I live in a world where long term travel is common. I have more than a few friends who have spent months and years on the road. A gap year is a given. Journeying is normal. International experience is par for the course. I forget, sometimes, that in the grand scheme of things, this is not normal for most. What’s normal is a two week holiday, if they’re lucky, once a year. That two weeks is all they have, and choices must be made about where and how to spend it.
There was another life, once upon a time, in which we attended corporate dinners, had a house and cars, and the trappings of a normal life and a promising career thinly veiled our gypsy hearts. I sat across the table from him at a corporate dinner and held my tongue as long as I could. I sipped my wine, caught a sly look out of the corner of my eye from a friend who could hear my thoughts, and decided to enter the fray. He hadn’t had a vacation in years, he bragged; he worked full on, and he was proud of it. In my signature to-the-point style, I did my best to offend him. Who, in his right mind, would brag about that? Who would celebrate being chained to a desk? Who would count living one’s life for slavery instead of dreams a virtue instead of a vice? His blue eyes locked with my chocolate ones, and we moved the conversation to the bar. It was a long evening of deep conversation, in which I found an unexpected friend. By the end of the evening he’d made me a promise: Within one month he would take a two week vacation, hop on his motorcycle, and take a trip. I smiled and informed him that I’d require a photo emailed as proof. Six weeks later, I got it. In the photo, he was grinning.
If you get a two week vacation and that’s it, then it becomes even more imperative that you make the most of that time, to rejuvenate, to rest, to educate and inspire yourself, and to feed your soul.
I know a few lifestyle travelers who scoff at the two week holiday making crowd. When you learn to think in three month chunks about your adventures, it can feel like two weeks isn’t even worth the effort. I disagree. If two weeks is all you have, then it’s infinitely more worth the effort than at any other time. If you get a two week vacation and that’s it, then it becomes even more imperative that you make the most of that time, to rejuvenate, to rest, to educate and inspire yourself, and to feed your soul.
What can you do in two weeks?
- Fly to Cusco, immerse yourself in highland culture, hike to Machu Picchu and back, the hard way.
- Cycle the Rhine River Valley in Germany.
- Spend a week in Mexico City studying art and archaeology and then a week in Oaxaca tasting mezcal and mole.
- The major museums of Paris, and a lot of baguette and crepe tasting.
- A whirlwind tour of New Zealand and a week in Fiji, like our friends from Ohio did.
- Dubai, with a vengeance!
Just to name a few.
We met a couple cycling in Germany. They were from the Netherlands and were cycling to St. Petersburg, in Russia. They’d been at it for three years, in two week chunks. They’d take a train to where they left off and carry on as far as they could before taking the train home and back to work. They were building an epic adventure out of bite sized chunks.
I know a woman, in her mid-sixties, who spends more than half of her time in Cambodia working with a family run orphanage as the result of a two week trip she took whilst recovering from a life trauma.
For lots of people, long-term travel is something that grows slowly. The idea of big time journeying is a gentle unfolding that begins with a new backpack, a solid RTW ticket paid for up front, and hotels in safe districts booked weeks in advance. For some folks, getting out of their state for two weeks is seriously outside the box and a grand scale adventure. Taking that first two week trip after college, or making the most of that precious vacation time is the definition of their wildest dreams.
If more people would take that two weeks and do something that mattered, to them personally, or to an organization they believe in, or to folks they’ve never met but have read about on a blog they follow, the world would be a better place.
It is in the living out loud of those small bites of freedom that our dreams grow, we meet people who stretch our paradigms, and the door to the great big world swings wide open. We shouldn’t discourage or deride the two week travelers. In fact, they should be applauded and encouraged whole-heartedly. A month’s long, RTW journey isn’t the only way to travel in a way that is valuable to the soul. If more people would take that two weeks and do something that mattered, to them personally, or to an organization they believe in, or to folks they’ve never met but have read about on a blog they follow, the world would be a better place.
It is in those two week chunks that eyes are opened, compassion is developed, dreams are kindled, boxes are stretched, glass houses are shattered, and kids who’ve grown into adults with no sense of themselves in the bigger picture are brought to their knees at the abject joy and wonder of the world and the commonalities that run like threads between humanity on every corner of the planet.
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If you’re planning a big trip, these shorter trips can be part of your strategy.
We planned for a solid two years before we hit the road full time with our kids. We began on bicycles for a year, through Europe and down into North Africa. During that planning time we took our vacations on two wheels in order to train our bodies and our minds for the greater cause. We tested gear. We tested our planning. We tested our mettle. We tried out staying in hostels. We determined we needed proper touring bikes. We built our confidence in our ability to fly by the seat of our pants. We took loops through Maine, just one state away. Then we took off for Martha’s Vineyard, “unsupported.” Then the big enchilada: a 500 mile test trip through the maritime provinces of Canada. It took closer to three weeks. We learned a lot. You could do the same.
My friend has a big dream: a month’s walk along the Camino de Santiago, in France and Spain. She’s invited me to go with her next June. Unlike me, she has a “real life” and a “real job.” She’s using every spare moment of her time off to train for our adventure this coming June. She’s hiking, she’s traveling, she’s learning Spanish on her days off, she’s researching like crazy. She’s taking a few days here and there to camp, and to load her backpack and tramp between cities in Canada, on foot. Baby steps towards a bigger goal. You could do something similar.
Not only do they reenergize a person and give you the strength to carry on with the hard work of living and working, sometimes they are the catalyst to a whole new life.
Here’s the thing: Two week trips matter. They matter a lot. Not only do they reenergize a person and give you the strength to carry on with the hard work of living and working, sometimes they are the catalyst to a whole new life. If two weeks is all you’ve got, and a resort is the edge of your comfort zone, I say, “GO!” Do all you can do, and you’ll come back finding that you can actually do a little more. If you’re already traveling on a bigger scale, come out in support of the “little guy” and celebrate every attempt to live in the world, every heart that dares to brave the unknown, and every adventure in the making. Two weeks matters, and it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing.
Oh, and the man with the piercing blue eyes who sent me that picture of his motorcycle and his smile six years ago? He tagged me in a Facebook post this month. It seems he’s sold his house and his stuff, purchased a bus, and has taken his show on the road full time, touring the USA, working as he goes. Now that is an epic life change, and an escape worth bragging about over drinks.
To read more about taking a leap of faith to travel, check out the following articles and resources:
- Sign up for our free planning program – Plan Your Trip in 30 Days
- Give Memories, Not Things: Using Travel to Celebrate Milestones
- Why It’s Not Crazy for Working Professionals to Quit Their Jobs to Travel the World
- Should You Go on a RTW Trip?
- 11 Reasons to Stop Dreaming and Start Planning Your RTW Trip