I wish I didn't have to utter these words, but the summer is almost over. I feel like May was yesterday. It's unfortunate that I have to fall into the "time goes by so fast" cliche, but it's the absolute truth.
I've done a lot this summer and I wouldn't change a thing, but I'm disappointed that I didn't give myself more time to write. So to get back in the swing of things (yay!) and in honor of all the trips I've taken -- including the ones that are happening to people close to me, since my brother moved to college a few days ago -- I've been thinking about the simple pleasures of traveling and exploring new places. It can be so refreshing to disconnect from everything we know.
Of course, I can't deny that colorful rummy drinks, Go Pros, local food, time with family and friends, and fun touristy activities (hiking, boat excursions, camping, jet skiing, wine tours ... whatever suits your fancy) are great. But this summer I realized some of my favorite parts of traveling are the easiest to overlook:
1. The excitement and anticipation
Who doesn't love getting excited for a trip? Even when I was younger, I made countdowns and journals and everything -- weeks before I left for the trip. It didn't take me long to realize that the buildup always depressingly disappeared immediately when I got back. It was so easy and almost automatic to forget about the surge of anticipation I felt 2 weeks earlier.
When I travel now, I embrace the craziness and excitement leading up to a trip. Whether it's an easy excuse to buy a new bathing suit or go shopping for the snacks I want to take along, I've learned to love the feelings of purpose, of knowing something great is approaching. I used to wish it away if it meant the trip would happen sooner, but why not soak it in? It's one of the best parts, because it means the entire trip is still ahead of you.
2. The simple feeling of getting there
It happens to the best of us. Having mental breakdowns when we're figuring out the logistics of traveling or sprinting from one end of the airport to the other (and feeling like you lifted weights for days after, although maybe that's just me.)
Once the moment of stress has passed, or even better, if you can avoid it all together, getting there can be one of the simplest parts of the trip. It's one of my favorites. Why would I mind sitting in a car or a plane, only having to think about pressing the pedal (if I'm driving, of course), finding the perfect music to fit my mood, taking perfect naps to the rhythm of the car if I'm lucky enough to be the passenger (which almost always happens), sleepily reading a book cover to cover, and buying fruit snacks, iced coffee and other snacks? It's mindless and simple with nothing pressing to do until I land or park.
When we were taking my brother to college, there was a pile of bags and a huge carpet roll surrounding me in the car. I couldn't see a thing, believe me, but it wasn't about the view. I always feel calm knowing I'm on my way somewhere. I'm in transit, and for now, everything is easy.
Of course, when something unexpected happens -- like a hole melting into the side of his plastic totes because of the car's exhaust -- it makes a great story.
3. Washing my hair with new water
For some reason, no matter where I go, my hair loves new water. When it gets used to the same water every day, it stops trying to impress me. But when I travel or started using new water at college, my hair was smooth and perfect and EVERY DAY seemed like a good hair day (at first).
My hair's crazy, so this traveling perk probably only applies to me. On the other hand, who doesn't like to try out the hotel's shampoo if it smells good?
4. Meeting new people / people watching
Trips are obviously about spending time with the people you're with or visiting. But a lot of my best memories are with people I met and won't ever see again. When I was in the Caribbean this summer, we met a mom and daughter from Miami. We showed her the best place to jump off the rocks.
I'm also a chronic people watcher. I blame it on my creative writing instincts, since I'm always trying to figure out their story. When we were visiting Niagra Falls the other week, we had to wait 1 1/2 hours in line for customs. We witnessed multiple people getting turned down from entering Canada/ the U.S. and watched one guy get sent into questioning. A bride in her wedding dress weaseled her way to the front of the hour-long line -- if she wasn't actually getting married, she had a brilliant cover for butting in line. My point is, what better way to entertain yourself than by watching what's going on around you?
But if I had to pick, my highlight this summer was meeting the nicest bartender in St. Martin who could sing flawless reggae karaoke at the same time he was making flawless drinks. I talked to him about his voice and his passion for music, and before I knew it, he persuaded me to sing a reggae version of "Happy" with him. I admit, he did most of the singing but I worked the crowd and got a drunk French woman to dance. Best thing ever.
5. The feeling of laying down in my own bed
This has to be a no-brainer for almost everyone, but no matter where I go, my bed is probably the best part of being home. It definitely helps wash away some of the post-vacation depression, and on multiple occasions, I've actually layed in bed and thanked whoever invented them. I know there are people who don't get to enjoy the simple pleasure of a bed with sheets that are worn and soft from years of use, so I'm thankful that I have one.
Aren't these some of the best, most simple moments of traveling? Maybe they're obvious to you guys, but the truth is, reflecting on my trips brings me back. I'll add that to my list for next year.
My favorite things are the simple ones: day-long book binges, cozy candles, dog kisses, ink on your hands, tree stars (leaves for those of you who never watched The Land Before Time) sweater weather, new ideas, local craft beer, punctuation, and knotty saltwater hair. Desserts are my favorite meal. I'm a creative writer and editor, and I created this space to keep my writing reflexes sharp and to share my simple ramblings with you!