You Might be a Traveler When…

Kurpark, Bad Aussee, Austria
Kurpark, Bad Aussee, Austria

While planning my upcoming trip to Montréal (leaving tomorrow!) some thoughts occurred to me.  One being: “Why am I not going somewhere warm?!”  But, I haven’t really planned anything (except how to get there and where I’m staying), and most of my friends at work think I’m crazy “brave” for going somewhere alone, for a week.  Through these conversations, and in my own experiences, I’ve noted some characteristics of the traveler

You might be a traveler when… Your bag is a backpack, and you carry it on your back.

Rolling suitcases are for business people in airports.  Travelers ensure all of their belongings transport quickly, easily, and efficiently on their person. And they have the sore shoulders to prove it.

You might be a traveler when… You only bring one pair of shoes.

The ones on your feet!  Even if they are snow boots.  Hey, there is no room for extra shoes in that backpack.

You might be a traveler when… You sleep in a bunk bed, in a room with 4+ strangers.

Minimum.  Whenever I mention that I stay in hostels, I typically get two questions: “Have you seen the movie Hostel?” and “Where do you change clothes?”  There is no privacy, hardly any quiet, and not boring.  But also – it’s cheap.  That’s a win!

You might be a traveler when… You book your transportation to your destination, and your accommodation there, and just kinda go.

Traveling tends to be more about the journey than what you do once you get there.  Yes, I want to see and do all the things but I don’t know what those things are yet.

You might be a traveler when… You take trips and not vacations.

Traveling is kinda hard work; I hesitate to consider it “relaxing.”  Staying at home in my bed would be easier.  To a traveler, traveling is a mandatory, often times intense, experience. It’s about exploration and discovery of a new place (and yourself).  Poolside piña coladas are typically not included.

You might be a traveler when… People ask you about your upcoming trip, and you’re not sure how to respond.

“Are you excited?!” my mother and a couple friends might ask pre-trip.  I don’t know – am I?  Sure, a traveler looks forward to the next trip, but excited?  I don’t know.  A traveler needs to go, there is a deep-seated desire to explore the world around her.  Whether that elicits excitement, or is a feeling that you care to explain to any person who asks, is up to the individual traveler.

There are many ways to experience a place.  But, in my mind, “travel” does not always come with a daiquiri on the beach (but, that wouldn’t be too bad eh?).  Travel should push you, pull you, mold you.  Travel is good for the soul.  Exploration is essential.  However you do it, just go.

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” -Anatole France

Food for thought.

Exploringly yours,

Alaina

Lessons from Missing a Place

Grazer Hauptplatz
Grazer Hauptplatz, Graz, Austria

I’ve been back from Austria for nearly three and a half years now.  I spent two school years teaching English there, exploring, meeting some of the best people I know, and generally being up to no good.  I met people from all over the United States, Great Britain, and Europe.  We were paid way too much money to do not that much work, and in our free time we had fun.  We all ended up there because we had studied German in college, and, I, for one, was not ready to figure out “the rest of my life” quite yet.  It is crazy to think how long ago it was now.

I think of that time, that place, and those people at least once a day.  When I am daydreaming at work, when I am walking to the bus, when I hear a song, or when a random German word pops into my head.  The two apartments I inhabited there, my friends that went through those years with me, the routes I walked, the public transport I used, the birthdays celebrated, the food, the beer, the cigarettes – all the memories are there and tinged with nostalgia.

My personal philosophy is that it is never healthy to live in the past, but this is a bit different than that.  These are memories so strong and vivid that they just seem to come to mind automatically.  And I think that the newness and foreignness of that time had intensified everything; I mean, I can barely remember what I did a month ago, but I feel that I remember all of those two years.

So, as more time falls between myself and Austria, I try to reflect on what I learned there, and how I can apply those lessons to my current life.  Lessons like: always have a sense of adventure, and spontaneity; your bed may be comfortable, but you must earn that rest after a night of fun; there is always some new place to explore, despite the seeming mundaneness of it.

But, since then, I have accomplished so much.  I went back to school, and I am now a registered nurse with a 40 hour per week job that I love.  The hard part is, after experiencing such freedom and newness, to now stay in one place, and do the same job each day.  Part of what I am also trying to teach myself is that exploration does not have to be on a grand scheme, in a foreign locale.  Exploration of yourself, and your mind, can be just as new and exciting as exploring a far off city.

And those are some lessons I’ve learned from missing a place.

Exploringly yours,

Alaina