Travel, My Favorite Balancing Act

I love to travel. I love to plan out all the logistical details; the departure and arrival times, the seasonally appropriate clothes. I love to have something to look forward to for weeks or months; I have a countdown app on my phone that is easily one of my most-used apps. I love the combination of exhaustion and exhilaration from waking up earlier than I ever would by choice; quietly arranging my things so that I don’t wake my roommates and am prepared to move easily from Lyft to train station or airport. I love the pure pleasure of knowing I am about to see people and places that I haven’t seen in awhile – or ever.

My freshman year of college, this excitement to move between physical places played easily into my homesickness, the urge I felt to flee what was new and find refuge in what was familiar as often as possible. It’s kind of a mundane trip from the city that my college is in to the city near my hometown, but I still build each of my weekends at home up in the same way that I would build up a trip more exciting. I check train schedules and arrange other transportation (shoutout to my family and boyfriend) and put together suitcases. The first year it was almost every other weekend. I realized then that I was planning my entire life around these weekends, adjusting my homework schedule, adding more pressure to myself, and not appreciating the days I felt “stuck” in my new, foreign place. The urge to leave outweighed all of that, but that urge has subsided as I’ve made a home here.

It occurred to me last week how much has changed in the past two years. Last Thursday, a week after my first trip home this semester, I woke up in my apartment, relieved I was simply headed to work and not trying to make it to the train station.  The following evening, Friday night, I sat on my couch, homework spread out and tv on, so content that I could relax and focus on what I needed to get done instead of being anxious about the homework that I was putting off on my trip.

To be clear, I still love travel – long weekends at home, visiting other states, soon other countries. I am still completely extra about planning around and planning the trip itself. But I see it in a more honest light now – what I mean is, sometimes, it is nice to stay.

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Of course, it is possible to travel and still be in one place long enough that your body adjusts and you feel like you’re stationary. You are able to live in the moment, to occupy the out-of-the-ordinary space, to be.

While I may be realizing the practicality of having a few less of my short, forty-eight hour blurs of trying to squeeze in time with my significant other and my family and catch up on sleep in my full-size bed, I am still happy to have them, and also happy to be planning extended trips. I am looking forward to starting the New Year in Germany and spending the following month in France (more to come on this!).

I am hoping to be, to stay, long enough to breathe in cultures and experiences that I have been admiring and learning about and longing for.

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Here’s to finding your own balance of traveling and staying just long enough.

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