This is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel project, a daily blogging challenge with a prompt for every day in November 2011. Check out the prompt at the bottom of this post to find out how you can participate!
The last two years have been pretty interesting for me when it comes to travel. We arrived back in our hometown of St. Louis a little over two years ago, in October 2009, after a year long RTW trip. That trip changed so much about us – our priorities, our view of the world and the people in it, how we live our daily lives, and how we travel. Only I didn’t realize how much the trip had changed my travel style until we left the country again this past September.
Since we returned from our epic journey with no jobs and little money, 2010 was very light when it came to travel. We simply didn’t have the time or money to devote to our one true love. We vowed to make changes in 2011, and nearly two years after returning from our RTW trip, we finally got out of the country again for a 16 day trip to Europe.
I have to admit that I was a bit worried about several different aspects of this trip. After traveling for a year, how could 16 days possibly be enough? After largely traveling in developing countries during our RTW, how would we adapt to Europe and the high prices that come along with it? Would this trip simply remind us of the best year of our lives and have us depressed upon returning home after only 2 weeks?
Looking back on it now, those questions seem kind of silly. Like anything in life, you simply have to adapt. After traveling for an entire year straight, my travel style had changed. My priorities for what I wanted out of a trip had changed. The thing is that I didn’t realize any of this until we got back out on the road again.
In all our previous trips, we focused on what it was we wanted to see or do most. Seeing famous sites like the Grand Canyon and Machu Picchu. Taking part in awesome hikes like in Utah and Patagonia. Eating amazing food in places like New Orleans and Southeast Asia.
But this time, it was different. Only I didn’t realize it was different until we were halfway through our trip. After all the traveling we had done, I had learned something about myself and how I like to travel that I was never able to put my finger on before, even after being on the road for a year straight.
While eating amazing food remained at the forefront of my priorities, it was the other things that had changed. After jetting around Barcelona the first few days we were there, seeing all the famous sites and being tourists, I was exhausted. It didn’t take long for me to get sick of sight-seeing – the ridiculous crowds, the entrance fees, the herding of people from one place to the next – I lost patience quickly.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s not what I really like about travel. Sure, some of the sites were great. The Sagrada Familia may be the most impressive man-made site I’ve ever visited. I was in awe, and it’s a place I’ll never forget. Going to Camp Nou and watching Barcelona play was incredible and is an experience this sport nut will always remember fondly.
While those highlights were great, it was the little things I remember most. Eating tapas, sipping wine, and meeting and chatting with other people – both travelers and locals alike. Spending time in London with friends we met on our RTW trip. Meeting their families. Having a traditional Sunday roast beef dinner with them and their parents. Going to southern France and staying with a family who lived there. Enjoying the company of great friends, both new and old, eating the local fare and buying croissants from a tiny bakery in the middle of a tiny town.
While most of our pictures will remind us of all the cool things we saw on this trip, the memories will be about the people. Memories of hitting the road once again with the person I love most in this world. Of seeing friends who live on the other side of the world, who we will probably only see every few years. Of meeting new friends and being welcomed into their home like we were their own family.
I may have learned more about myself, my travel style, and what I love most about travel in those two weeks than I did during my entire year of travel. I learned that it’s not about the sites, or even the city or country I’m visiting. I learned that what I love most about leaving home and hitting the road is simply being in a new and unique place, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones, and spending that time with the people I love.
I was worried about not wanting to come home. I was worried that I would be in a funk like I was for a few months after our RTW trip. But those feelings never surfaced. Instead they were replaced by a newfound clarity of what I really wanted and enjoyed most about travel. For me, it’s not about the sites. It’s about the people. And learning that one simple lesson will change how I travel forever.
30 Days of Indie Travel Project: How to Participate
We’re inviting bloggers from around the world (that means you, too!) to join us in a daily blogging effort designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.
We’ll share some of our favorites via Twitter and Facebook throughout November, as well as a round-up article at the end of the month, so if you’re playing along make sure to let us know – use the #indie30 hashtag on Twitter, and link to the 30 Days of Indie Travel page in your post so we’ll be able to find it.
Find out all of the 30 Days of Indie Travel blogging prompts so far – it’s never too late to join in the fun!
Prompt #8: LOVE LEARNING
Travel and learning go hand in hand. Travel teaches us not only about the world and the people in it, but also more about ourselves and our own ideas and values. What has travel taught you this year?
Tools and inspiration: Read about things you learn about yourself traveling solo