Posted by: marykfurness | November 9, 2011

You’re always learning–Day 8, 30 days of travel blogging

Bootsnall has posed an interesting question for day 8 of their “30 days of indie travel” blog challenge; “what have you learned from travel this year?”  As usual, I’m going to think outside that box, and write about what I’ve learned from travel in general.

I’ve been on the road, in one way or another, since I was about a year old.  My parents would take me–and later my brother, when he came along a couple of years later–on yearly road trips to the ocean from our home outside of Washington, DC, and we quickly learned that we couldn’t take everything with us on those trips!  Whether we were gone for a weekend, a week, or 3 weeks, there was only a finite amount of space in a four-door sedan with Mom, Dad, 2 kids and a dog, and my mother was a great believer in the “pack small” concept.

So, lesson #1–pack small.

When we began to take flying trips–I took my first one solo, at the age of 11, then the whole family went to Europe a few years later–my parents again were the travel teachers.  “Read about these places”, they said, and we did.  I can’t say I ever became an expert, but when I saw the Tower of London in England; Stephensdom in Vienna; Mozart’s Birthplace in Salzburg; and the Temple of Luxor in Egypt, all of those meant more to me for having read about them.

Lesson #2–know before you go!

And then there’s traveling with parents.  Especially when you are no longer under the age of 18.  Or under the age of 25.  Traveling with one’s parents–either singly or together–can put a strain on the relationship.  They’re used to being in charge; you’re used to being in charge.  I was 29 the last time I travelled with my dad–we had some issues, but for the sake of the trip and the relationship, I managed to put those behind me, as did he.  The last time I took any sort of trip with my mother, I was 42 and she had health issues; we managed, but it took patience.

The same goes for immediate family–spouse and/or children. Discuss where you want to go, what you want to do, and build in some down time.

Lesson #3–patience, grasshopper….oh, and flexibility.

I travelled with my son to Washington, DC this past spring for his spring break, and for the Cherry Blossom Festival; and I realized all 3 of these lessons anew.  We packed small (carry-on only); we read up on the festival on the Internet, and decided what we had time to do and what we didn’t; and I did my best to be patient and flexible with a not-quite-14-year-old.  And I made sure to leave him some down time with his cousins while I went out with some old friends one night. It made for a memorable and joyous–if whirlwind–trip, and one I hope to repeat someday.

In just under 7 weeks, I go to Costa Rica, on an “educational” tour with a local college.  I’m supposed to learn things on this trip–it’s all about conservation and biology, and we will spend time with very learned people.  But I also have a feeling I will learn other things–concepts and skills and things about myself I can’t even fathom yet. Is it possible to teach this slightly-gray-haired lady some new travel tricks?

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