I’m finally back from my trip and mostly over the jet lag. It had been awhile since I’d last traveled abroad, so this trip was much anticipated. My wife and I traveled for two weeks, and somehow I didn’t do any work. An impressive feat for me.
Our travels through Europe took us through 5 major cities: Frankfurt, Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast (includes Sorrento, Positano, Capri, and Amalfi), and Copenhagen (pictured above).The experiences were great, but so were the lessons learned along the way. These are the 10 things I discovered on my latest travels.
1. There Are Two Types Of Travel
I’m fortunate to have traveled a fair amount, but this trip put one thing into perspective: there are two types of travel, adventure and recovery. I probably came to this realization because I’m getting older, but this trip was a lot more about adventure than it was rest.
We always hear about needing a vacation from your vacation – that is what adventure travel is all about. Hitting multiple cities in a short amount of time is taxing. If you’re looking to truly relax, stay in one or two places and truly immerse yourself in the culture. If you want to explore, then make sure you have a few days once you get home to recover (I had Labor Day to ease back into things).
2. The Best Part Of Travel Is The Unknown
My favorite part of travel is the unknown. Getting lost in the streets. Missing buses and not knowing where you are. Discovering hidden gems and finding yourself in situations you never thought you’d be in.
The unknown isn’t something we desire, but leaving your comfort zone is a great way to learn more about yourself and grow. We had some of our best times when we were wandering about cities, off the beaten path.
3. Don’t Over Plan
I don’t like making plans. Outside of knowing how I’m getting somewhere and having a place to stay, my planning often ends. I’ve found that going with the flow and seeing what the day brings you is far more enjoyable then trying to see every attraction a city has to offer.
I think you can get numb to seeing the things you’re supposed to see. After awhile, the churches start to run together. Instead, just enjoy what comes.
4. Balance Rest And Activity
After you get over the jet lag, it’s important to continue to pace yourself. Having days packed with activities and things to do is great, but always follow it up with days of rest and relaxation.
Keeping things in balance this way, ensures you stay fresh and ready for the long haul. There were days that we were walking and exploring non-stop, but there were also days that I slept in, had a nice breakfast, and enjoyed some leisure. You need both.
5. Length Makes A Difference
If I had a choice, I’d spend more time in every place, even if it meant seeing fewer cities. When you’re in a place for just a few days it’s a whirlwind. You don’t get to really experience the culture, explore the streets, or do what the locals do.
My favorite trips have been those where I’m in a place for weeks or months, not just a few days. Of course that isn’t always possible. When it’s not, I try to at least do a few things that aren’t considered touristy, so I can get a sense of what that place is really all about.
6. You Don’t Need That Much Stuff
It always surprises me how easy it is to live out of a backpack for a few weeks. If you pack smartly, you don’t really miss all that stuff that seems so important to life when you’re at home.
It certainly puts things in perspective in terms of what we really need. Hopefully I can keep that minimalist mindset now that I’m home. Keep it simple.
7. Friends Are Everywhere
From locals to fellow travelers, you’re never alone when you travel. It’s always fun to meet new people and enjoy their company, for the short time you have.
It’s easier to connect with others than you think. Especially if you learn a few words of the local language. People are generally good and happy to help, despite how divided we may seem.
8. Try New Things
This is the whole point of travel. It may not always turn out like you hope, but trying new things is central to travel in every way. Take outdoor excursions, try new foods, and learn more about yourself along the way.
We went on a boat tour of the coast, explored wineries in Tuscany, got lost on the steps of Positano, and tried every local food we could (though we did get tired of pasta and pizza after awhile). Explore the new.
9. The World is Truly Getting Smaller
It probably has a lot to do with where we were (Europe), but I didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I have on past trips. Things were just easier. Most people could speak some English, I could find an AirBnB in every city, taxis or local transport was always available, and if nothing else, I had my smartphone available to save the day.
While all of this makes travel easier, it takes away some of the wonder and excitement that used to come with traveling abroad. The world is getting smaller, which seems to mean its becoming more of the same.
10. Find Time To Think
I think it’s important during any travel to have some me time and just sit and think. Reflect on the year, think about what’s happened and what’s to come. It’s not often you can get away from the noise of everyday life, so take advantage of it.
I found plenty of moments to reflect on where I am in life, which only got me excited to get back to work when I returned.
The world is a book, and those that do not travel read only a page.Saint Augustine
Travel is something every person should do. The more often, the better. It’s the ultimate way to re-energize, to find inspiration, to experience the new, and to challenge yourself.
As frustrating and tiring it may be, it is equally fun and full of wonder. I know I’ll do it again soon.