Ahhh summer—that magical time when anything is possible and no destination is too far. It’s a time when plans change suddenly, and personal routines wave “bye bye”. We hit the road and chart a course to Getmeouttahere, in Somewherelse County, USA, leaving behind—in a crooked rearview mirror—our favorite hometown we love to hate.
Of course, when we come back, as we always do, we haul our pictures and magnets and receipts and stories and we tell and show everyone because we’re travelers, dammit. It’s what we’re meant to do. Facebook and Instagram, for instance, were practically built for us.
Friends, coworkers, and cashiers ask us about the trip, and then it happens: our eyes glow red and we latch on to them like a stamp on a postcard: “It all started at 5:15am on Friday morning. The day lie still before us, though we knew the journey would be treacherous!”
So it was good?
But we don’t stop there. No, instead, impersonating Ted Mosby, we recite How I Met My Roadtrip and the words bleed like an artery.
Movers and Shakers
I find that when someone asks about our trip that they are usually just being polite. We need to set limits and remember them. (Limits, I know, not the traveler’s favorite subject). We must revisit the thin line between sharing and bragging and learn how to better walk it. Because, really, everyone hates a bragger. Even braggers hate other braggers.
I know some folks are genuinely interested. Their lives may not afford them many opportunities for vacations and getaways, and we brighten their days with tempestuous tales of the outside world. I call them “stayers.” But for wayfarers and road trippers like myself, those who have caught the Type 3 Wanderlust bug, we tend to assume that everyone is a stayer.
Here’s the thing: most people, even stayers, don’t want to be reminded about how much they don’t get to travel. It is sort of a slap in the face. And just like braggers, nobody loves getting slapped in the face. Unless, of course, you are a 50 Shades of Grey weirdo.
And then there are those people who think that traveling is stupid altogether. I call them “Beings.” They are happy just existing wherever they are. They would rather spend their day off at home, resting, then in some foreign land tirelessly moving. I sort of envy them.
My little traveling existential crisis recently started after I had met someone who rivals my own travel history. While it was fun to talk shop, her endless road trip rhetoric caused me to question how I communicate with others.
Trying to hold a conversation with this person, for instance, is nearly impossible because she is never fully present. She is always elsewhere, disconnected from everywhere. Any chance of stirring up distance and she will: “Oh, this reminds me of the time I went to France…” “Have you ever been to Spain…” “This one time I traveled to Kentucky… ”
Yes, okay, we get it. You travel a lot. Learn the room. I have found that constantly mentioning other places and other people disvalues the moment you are currently in. People walk away hurt. Sometimes, during her road rants, I find that I want to plug my ears and scream “STOP”; other times, I want to give her a hug just to let her know that stillness can be a good thing.
I’ve seen this look in others as I’ve shared my weekend getaways or unnecessarily launched into tales of the past. I just ignored or misinterpreted their responses, blinded by an exuberance I’m afraid will fade.
“Kevin, you have been blogging all summer about your Weekend (Ultimate) Warrior road trips, have you not?”
That’s a great question, me. Yes, in fact, I have one more post coming up. Travel blogs are a great tool for travelers because it allows us to purge, and those who are disinterested don’t have to read them. They can ignore it and move on, and we are all happy clams. But in one-on-one (real person) situations, people are harder to read. Everything is different: travelers must be cautious about their tongues, we must learn not to be presumptive, and we must learn to be truly present when we’re not on the road. I’m trying to get a little better at this.
There was a time when traveling was the ultimate selfie, and hitting the road was synonymous with soul seeking. Today, it is a differnet type of indulgence, an event defined by Facebook likes and bragging rights. But I believe traveling, exploring, and adventure remains best a personal experience.
If you are traveling purely to show off, then spend some time at home and find yourself.