Rest and relaxation.
Such vacation goals sound so compelling yet they can be infuriatingly elusive.
Why? Because no matter where you go, there you are.
Let me restate that: there you are. You. With all your stuff. Not just what you pack in your bags but what goes with you everywhere you go because it is part of you: Worries. Attitudes. Preconceptions. Habits.
And it’s not just you.
I tell myself that being aware of what makes for meaningful travel enables me to travel better. And it does. Except for those times when I forget and get in the way of myself.
Let me give you an example.
Earlier this year when my family traveled to Peru, we had basically two half days and one full day in the ancient Incan capital of Cusco. We arrived in the late afternoon, wandered around the main square and had a wonderful dinner that evening. We came back to our hotel and I decided to wait until the next morning to plot out our itinerary for the next day. After all, our intent here was just to relax and take in whatever came our way.
Morning arrived, however, and that intent didn’t last long. After reviewing the numerous options available to us in Cusco, I quickly found myself becoming reacquainted with a familiar but unwelcome old traveling companion: tourist panic.
Tourist panic is that sense that:
- You have a limited time in a place that costs a ton to get to and that you likely will never see again.
- There are more sights that you want to see than will fit in that limited time.
- You might miss out on something that you will regret for the rest of your life, as in forever and ever.
Or at least until the next day when the panic retreats and you’re on to something new.
But on this morning, with the whole day of possibilities ahead of me, I conveniently ignored that voice of logic telling me to chill. All notions of rest and relaxation got swept away along with our breakfast dishes.
Thus, heeding this unwarranted inner compulsion, I urged the family to hurry up. Then off we rushed to take in all that awaited us in Cusco, or at least all we could cram into this one day.
And guess what? Somewhere around 3:00 p.m. we ran out of things to do.
We’d seen all the must-sees on our list and everything else seemed either redundant or required more money, energy or time than we were willing to expend at this point in the day. Thus, all my stress to see everything did nothing but stress out my family and leave me wondering why I behaved in such a manner.
I hate this. I hate how I act when I feel this way. My family hates how I act when I feel this way. So why do I do this?
That’s a rhetorical question. I’m not really asking for input on my emotional life, though I’m sure some of you would love to weigh in on this one: Is it sin, over-control, issues from my past, an unmet need for closure, or altitude-induced sleeplessness? Yes. I’m sure all of those could apply.
But I believe it is something more.
Something that relates at some point to all of us.
Something, unfortunately, that you’re going to have to wait till next time to find out…