My travels have taken me to some really interesting places, and I have gotten to have some crazy experiences during that time. I feel grateful that I have been able to live this life, and I look forward to more of these experiences as I move on. I think back at the old town celebration that I wander in on in Lucern, or watching the Spain World Cup Game with a bunch of locals in Salamanca. I treasure the moments of standing in the rain with my friends in Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan, or being the only couple in the ryokan in Magome. I will never forget wandering the Hobbiton movie set outside of Mata Mata, New Zealand, or enjoying a drink on the docks just outside of Dubrovnik before it became the biggest destination site when visiting Europe. The memories keep coming too. I have enjoyed a steak dinner in the hills outside of Hua Hin, and stumbled on a jazz music festival. The will be filed away with the other memories that I have collected, but there has been a change in the way I have travelled lately, and I am starting to recognize that change.
I used to look at the big huge fancy hotels and resorts from a distance. Most of the places I used to stay in were hostels. They were the only places I could afford. Sometimes, I could pull an extra couple of dollars together for a private room, but most of the time I was sharing a room with up to fifty other people, and would not spend a lot of time there. It was just a place to put my stuff, and lay my head down at when I had worn myself out by running around checking out the sites. It was part of the adventure and there were many moments from these places that hold a special place in my memory, but a few years back, we decided that we had outgrown the hostel experience and we only find hotels or Air B+Bs from here on out.
The places were still not the height of luxury. The bigger concern when picking the place had to do with location. It was important that we were close to the city center so we could easily wander around and see what we traveled so far to see. Sometimes that meant finding a place right on the beach so when I walked out my door, I could watch the waves crash on the sand.
But which spot we stayed at, it started to get fancier and fancier. Where we would run to a grocery store to find something to cook or find a local hot spot for dinner, we now found places with fancy restaurants attached to the grounds. Breakfast would be a quick affair with a bowl of cereal made with milk that we had placed in our tiny fridges, but now we make sure to find a place where it is included in the price of the stay.
Sometimes we would find a park to share some cheese and crackers that we bought off a local street vendor. Now the park is part of the hotel experience, and if we want some snacks we can order room service and have it brought to us. In other words, the last few times I have gone out for a quick trip, things have changed significantly. Part of this might be because, we have found ourselves in Thailand during a worldwide pandemic and the is country that is so dependent on tourism has so incredible deals going on right now. But if I am being honest, it is also about the change in lifestyle. As I have grown older and moved my way up in the world of academia, I have been able to afford places like this more often. I also find that I enjoy this moment of relaxation during my busy schedule, so I buy into it even more.
But the bigger question, the thing that has been bugging me about this, pops up. Is something lost because of this change? Am I getting the most out of my traveling experience because of the change to booking resorts? I have wandered away from the hotel a couple of times while I have been here this weekend, but most of the time was spent lounging around the pool and soaking in the moment. Granted, this was a quick weekend that I was taking before a longer break comes up, and I will definitely spend more time experiencing things during the three week break, but I find myself spending more time relaxing on vacation instead of trying to take as much of it in as I can. I do come back refreshed and ready to take on the next challenge, but the little stories aren’t as plentiful when I live a pampered lifestyle.
Some call it the creep. It is that moment in your life where you make enough money to enjoy the easy life a little more often, but at the expense of finding those same experiences for a little less. At the same time, the better pay comes with more responsibility, and I do need that time to relax or my life will be one big bundle of stress. I guess like many other things in life, it comes down to finding that balance between the two. I need to fight against the creep from time to time. I need to find those more humble experiences where I take in what life brings to me. This does not mean that I will go back to staying at hostels, but I do not need to find the biggest resort where I do not need to do much of anything. I need to find that place that gives me enough relaxation so I feel ready to go out and take in the place in the world where I have found myself. It is the whole reason I travel. I need to get back to experiencing the world. I have enjoyed this quick respite, but I am ready to take on the world again.
And as thing start to open up again and the vaccines get delivered to places around the world, I find that this year of trying to make the most out of the situation I found myself in will soon be behind me. I look forward to the new opportunities out there, and I can’t wait to see where my next adventure will take me.
Until next time, stay safe, and find the most out the time given to you.