My first true vacation was a trip to Paris from New York. I remember obsessing over every little detail. The result was an itinerary replete with names of restaurants where I would eat, a timetable of “things to do” (surely, a perfect combination of mostly tourist traps and small bits of the “loved by locals”, or so I thought) and the amounts I would spend by day. I took pride in this efficiently planned itinerary but more so in how I followed the plan to a T! Unfortunately, years later things haven’t changed much. The degree of micromanaging my trip may have reduced, but I still tend to manage it.
I could call myself a dilettante, I think that would be true for many of us. We aspire to “travel” but almost always don’t let our instincts guide and let us soak in what comes out of spontaneity.
Discovering new places, new ways of living and culture is one thing, but the self-discovery that probably comes with unconstrained journeys is something to write home about.
Travel rescues me from the quotidian life governed by a strict pattern, or at least that is what I expect from it. If that is so, it is only natural that travel be free from a routine. I’ve also heard that the real discovery consists not in seeing new places but in seeing with new eyes. The trouble with knowing everything about your trip before hand is just that. Where does the need to know everything about our trips stem from? I think it is our complacencies with a certain lifestyle, our rigidity in our beliefs, and our inability lack of willingness to face the unknown. If the idea that vacations are an escape from our humdrum daily affairs is true, it also calls for leaving behind certainties, our views and everything we take for granted. It is only in the new, unchartered experiences that we discover what is beyond our so called second nature.
So I want to suspend my plans, drop the checklists the next time I travel. And I wonder, how do I start to do that? An extreme challenge would be to just show up at the airport, pick a destination, buy the tickets and fly away. This is one of those hopelessly romanticized things that many of us say we want to do, and probably never do.
As I think a little more about it I realize I may do just fine. The thought of having to discover a new place without my blinkers on gives me goose bumps, and in an exciting way. Maybe this time I’ll speak with the locals to find out their hangouts (and what to skip), and walk around all day to discover the sights and smells and more. I honestly don’t know how, I, as a person would handle this, and would love to find out. It is probably a part of me I don’t know.
I am packing my bags and going to the airport. Anyone here to help me out?
– Priyanka Prakash