Monday, July 29, 2013

Side Benefits of Travel

[This photo kind of gives me a headache.]

In the past month I've taken three trips (two weekend road trips, one longer plane trip), and they've gotten me thinking again about the traveling process and why I do it. The primary reasons people travel are pretty obvious: vacation, to see people and places, to take care of some business, etc. But in the days leading up to my trips, I usually feel stressed and start wondering if it's worth it. I've had to remind myself of how the entire experience will benefit me both immediately and beyond the duration of the trip. In the end, most of the time I do feel it was totally worth the effort and expense. I thought I'd talk about a few of the less-addressed reasons traveling can be a positive experience, at least for me.

1. It's a great incentive to get things in order. I don't always succeed, but I prefer to leave my place somewhat tidy when I leave. No one wants to come home to the smell of garbage or dirty dishes that have been in the sink for three days. I can be kind of slacky about certain chores, but attaching a meaningful deadline and incentive kicks me into gear a little better.

2. Same for the car. Before road trips, I'm more likely to check on my tires, the oil level, and the general cleanliness of my car. It's too easy to put those things off when I'm only driving around town each day.

3. More audiobook time. I generally travel alone to get to my friends/family, so I have the freedom to choose what I listen to on the way. It's always nice to plow through a couple of audiobooks that are soon to be due back to the library. It's enjoyable multitasking, and it's nice to get lost in a book for longer than the 15 minutes it takes to get to work.

4. The world looks different from an airplane. I take plane trips about 2-4 times per year. They are generally more stressful to prepare for and manage than road trips, and sometimes I feel really cranky about having to deal with airports. But almost every time I get up in the plane, something happens to my outlook on various situations. I guess looking down at earth (I'm a window seat kind of girl) makes problems seem smaller and people nicer. I often do a lot of thinking about life and God, and I will get a little boost of hope or inspiration about my goals or different avenues I'd like to explore.

5. Sometimes leaving home is more important than the destination. We're all different, of course, but I have recently been learning how much better off I am when I get out of town on a regular basis. I don't always have a terrific time on trips, but one thing they give me is a chance to leave Salem (or wherever I'm living). Physically removing myself from reminders of life-as-usual is important for me, even if I end up having a draining or annoying time wherever I go (not typical, but it happens).

6. Traveling makes you better at traveling. If you've made the same trip several times, you've probably noticed how it has evolved and been refined to make it less of a hassle and more enjoyable for you/your family. I've driven up to the Seattle area several times, and even just in the past 2-3 times I have realized more of what works best for me. Certain luggage is more suitable. Filling up my gas tank at particular points makes the trip go more smoothly (even if it's a bit more expensive). Leaving at such-and-such time is best for traffic and my energy level. Having a special meal/treat on the way home makes the end of the trip less dreadful. Even little things like which shoes I wear and how I carry my bags in the airport (Purse first, backpack second!) can make getting around more or less annoying. And even though I do enjoy the occasional early-morning start to a trip, I have come to accept that I'm a lot happier and less stressed when I plan flights and drives at reasonable hours. Creating a good system makes each trip less and less daunting.

7. Coming home. There's not much to say about this--you all know how good it feels to be back in the comfort of your home, bed, town, car, bathroom, kitchen, etc. Sometimes one of the best parts about a trip is how it helps you appreciate normal life.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Where was the last place you traveled?


  1. Did you post this first thing in the morning? What a good girl!

    I agree with you on most of your positive comments about travel. I used to travel only with other people, (or person, usually Dad) but I have done some traveling on my own of late. I think it helps me feel a bit more independent. (Sometimes I get panicky, but on the whole it's good for me.) I do like to get away early, but sometimes, if it's too early, I get a "travel" headache resulting from lack of sleep. (I do need my sleep!!!)

    Since Christmas I've traveled with Dad to Concord, Mexico & Indian Valley (camping). By myself I've traveled to Salem, New Mexico & Concord. I think that's it!!

  2. Mom - No, I wrote it up last night and scheduled it to post at the beginning of the day. :) I sometimes do that and will probably do this week's posts that way.

    Yes, getting somewhere early is nice, but if it's at the risk of headaches, stress and crankiness, is it really worth it? For me I hate having to ask for airport rides at such early times and so it's a relief not to have to deal with that if possible.

    You've done a lot of traveling!

  3. About to work on my post today because I'm just not as organized as you. :-)

    To add on about travel -- and most of my travel advice has to do with traveling with kids -- making sure to not only travel with a good variety of snacks (salty, sweet, savory), but taking advantage of the gas stops to let kids pick out a treat in the mini-mart breaks up long road trips and keeps everyone a lot happier. We eat a lot more while we drive, it seems, but when we're on the road, none of the kids really want a big meal at mealtimes, so snacking it up all day long works best to keep them happy and for digestion (and more regular potty stops).

    I could probably do a whole post on roadtrips with kids, but for now, I'll just leave you with this one bit of advice on a comment. :) Enjoy.

  4. R - Oh I'm not organized, I'm just such a night person that it works better to wait and do my post later on without feeling rushed to meet the 7pm deadline (that's when the email notifications go out). But then if for some reason I couldn't get one done, I'd already have the day's done and could do the next day later on.

  5. I'm not a traveler as you know, but I do see the benefits of it. It's just such a hassle...

    Nothing to add to the list, I think you covered it nicely!

  6. This is a really smart and insightful list! I love all these points and agree. I so badly wish I could travel more, even to somewhere within a few hours difference. I love breaking up the monotony. I haven't been on a plane in 3 years! LAME.

    That first photo kinda gives me a headache too but I still think it's really great.



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