My Travel Evolution
Nothing stays the same. I truly believe that as travelers we evolve. No, maybe not every traveler (I have no doubt that there are those in their 50s and 60s still doing the hardcore party scene just like they did in their 20s), but for most of us we change, just as our looks, mindsets, and paths in life change.
The traveler I was at 20 is not the same traveler I am at 31. As a college student studying abroad, I was most interested in cramming in as much touring as possible. When I visited Paris for my second time, I wasn’t even there a full 48 hours but did and saw so much it makes me wonder how it was even humanly possible. (And this included a horrible, nearly 1 hour wait time to purchase tickets for the Musee du Louvre-how I wish I had known to purchase tickets in advance.) In my home base of Seville, Spain I sorely regret never returning to the Alcazar to “while away the hours” in its beautiful gardens. But at 20, I was more concerned with being active, always on the go, never missing out on anything. But by being as active as I was, in a sense I did. I missed out on those quiet yet memorable moments, the ones that stay with you when you remember their simple and timeless beauty.
On my first trip back to Europe post-college, I visited Ireland. At the time, I was a (relatively) poor graduate student, so the trip was very much on a budget, not the easiest thing when the Euro exchange rate in 2009 was quite strong against the dollar. I saw some wonderful sights but stayed at a mediocre hotel not near to the city center (because it was cheap) and only had a few meals of note.
It wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that my travel evolution included food. When I think back on all the crappy meals I had in some fantastic destinations like a pretty terrible pre-fix lunch on Ile de la Cite in Paris; Chinese food in Kilkenny, Ireland; a Johnny Rockets meal in Cancun, (for this last one I truly hold my head in shame since it also made me sick), I’m saddened in a non-critical kind of way. But I suppose it’s somewhat par for the course since how many 19 and 20 year olds are foodies, interested in doing research in advance on what restaurants to try.
Since then, when it comes to planning a trip, whether it’s domestic or international, my research always includes a food aspect-restaurants to eat at, gourmand stores to shop at, and markets to check out. I could never imagine returning to a time where eating on a trip simply involved picking some place at random.
I’ve also evolved to be the type of traveler whose adherence to strict budgets is not the requisite norm. No, I probably won’t ever want to spend the money to fly first class on a trip to Asia or Europe. However, I don’t spend the minimum amount needed on accommodations. I don’t eat at restaurants where I know my entrée is going to be under $10. Since I work full-time and only travel part-time, enjoying myself when I travel and not having to worry about sticking to my daily budget is what I feel I’m deserving of.
One traveler’s evolution is entirely unique to that one person. I went from being the type of traveler more concerned with the “bragging rights of travel” (i.e. been there, saw that) and not being overly conscious on where I ate or stayed, to one who savors the moments more, who deems a visit to a food hall just as important as a visit to a world-renowned museum, and even someone who has grown to love domestic travel and finds it just as thrilling. I know there are others who may have experienced the opposite. Perhaps they went from being travelers who extravagantly jaunted about the world to ones today who enjoy a barebones, minimalist traveling approach. It’s all about what makes you solely happy since that’s what travel should always do.
As I get older, I have no doubt that I’ll continue to evolve as a traveler but for now, I’m quite happy where I have evolved to.
How have you evolved as a traveler?