Living an expat life almost always guarantees one thing…you’re going to travel a lot! Even if it’s back “home” to visit family and friends, you’re miles away from wherever your life started. If you’re lucky, you’ll visit places you’ve never been or even ever thought you’d go.
And perhaps nothing in the world prepares you for life’s unexpected twists and turns like traveling. Shy and timid? Try visiting a country with a foreign language. Impatient and ill-tempered? Try working through the anguish of airports and airplanes for 24 hours. Apprehensive and feeling unadventurous? Try a road trip in an unknown place with nothing but a road map.
All the little experiences gained along the way make world travelers pretty adaptable, courageous, and fascinating people.
However, with all that being said and behind the gorgeous pictures and exotic skylines there probably lies a traveler who underneath it all has a few confessions that he/she could share. Well, we most certainly do!
1. I over plan. There is barely a moment in any trip that hasn’t been thought through or scheduled ahead of time. This isn’t necessarily true when I visit New York or DC, but that’s home so having the down time with family and friends is all I’m mostly interested in. When traveling to new places though I research, I consult concierges, I scour the Internet, and I read reviews upon reviews to plan the absolute best use of our time. I like to know when we visit someplace we did the things that make that place remarkable. Must-see landmarks, to-die-for local restaurants…you name it, I’ve got it covered. I’m actually becoming quite good at it, so much so that I’ve sent out my itineraries to more people than I can count;)
So why the confession? Two reasons. First, my over planning can be quite overwhelming at times during the trip – just ask my husband about our holiday Disney trip. Although incredibly well-planned (tooting my own horn and passing along that itinerary to another person this afternoon), there were times when
he we wanted to collapse. Luckily my four year old keeps things from getting too crazy, because there’s usually an afternoon nap allotted in the schedule. And while I always try to put in one day or at least a few hours for free time, whether exploring new areas or returning to favorite places, it’s usually not until the end of the trip.
2. The second reason actually leads right into my next traveling confession, which is that I’m a nervous traveler. Making plans helps relieve any anxiety about traveling I have to an unknown place, especially to a place where I don’t know the language. One of my fears (and I’ve seen this committed by various nationalities, even though Americans tend to be a bit more famous for this faux pas) is doing something foolish or worse disrespecting the culture with which I’m visiting. So I plan. Remember Miranda in Sex and the City 2 when she studied a travel book on Abu Dhabi culture and taught the other girls about the traditions and lifestyles? Well, that’s me. Now, I’m not likely to stroll down a marketplace half naked like Samantha, but that’s my fear. That I’ll do something ridiculous and disrespectful, end up in an area I have no business being, or wind up in trouble or in danger. On the surface I may seem calm, relaxed, and give the impression I know what I’m doing, but deep down, without my itinerary in hand, I’m quite the nervous traveler.
1. I feel a little ridiculous typing this, but my first confession is that I don’t fly coach. I know how horribly snobby that sounds, but it’s the truth, and isn’t that what confessions are all about? I love to travel, but for me, the worst part of traveling is the journey. It’s not a fear of flying, or enclosed spaces. I’m just a girl that likes her space. I get easily overwhelmed by sounds and smells, and a flying tin can packed full of people is a huge anxiety trigger for me. Besides, eating real food with real cutlery and unlimited wine is just so darn nice! I’m lucky that my husband understands, and shares, my desire to sit at the front of the plane. Years ago, we agreed that any flight over six hours in length warranted the extra expense. Today, it’s almost any flight. We’re incredibly fortunate that my husband has enough air miles logged to usually get an upgrade, and his company pays for three business class flights back “home” to Canada each year, so we manage to minimize our costs. But there have been times where I’ve paid full price for a business class ticket and didn’t even feel bad. I have never regretted spending that money, especially on those flights when I’ve flown eight hours to England, followed by another thirteen to Hong Kong! Talk about money well spent! Besides, I need the luggage allowance afforded to business class passengers, which leads me to my second confession.
2. I am not a light packer. The beauty of business class is that baggage allowances are usually up to three bags with a weight limit of 75 lbs each. Good thing, since my bag usually weighs about 60 lbs just leaving home! Add in all of the purchases I make, because shopping does not exist on our little island, and I’m always coming back home with at least two bags sporting the bright orange “heavy” tag. I have no idea why my luggage is so heavy. I use super light luggage, and I rarely overpack. I only bring enough shoes for the few outfits that I mix and match. The only hair appliance I bring is my straightener, and I have a shower bag, and a make up bag. Admittedly, the items in my shower bag account for any possible emergency, but you never know what could happen! The one time I removed an item was the exact time I needed it. I went to Holland with my brother in 2012, and I decided not to bring along an eye wash that I always carry with me, for fear of my brother teasing me of my overpacking. Didn’t he end up getting something in his eye, and I had to go to the store and buy eye wash. Seriously? I used to envy people that could go away for a week and just take a carry-on bag. I don’t know how they do it! I’ve stopped trying and have embraced my heavy packing ways. I don’t pack light and I’m proud of it!
So now you know our dirty little secrets about how we travel.
What are your travel confessions?
Do you plan your trips or are you spontaneous?
Are you a light packer or do you always bring along too much?