As you know, Jim and I recently came back from a trip to Georgia and Armenia. These two places are pretty much what I would call, “off the beaten track.” Both countries being part of the former Soviet Bloc, are still struggling a bit. Since we love to drive, we rented a car and drove and drove and drove. I don’t think we ever went faster than 100 kilometers an hour, and that was two short stints where we were on an autobahn or interstate-like highway with two lanes going each way and eventually will continue through the country. We loved seeing the signs that showed the kilometers to Istanbul and Baku, but like I said, it didn’t last.
Many, many people have asked me, “Why did you go there?” For me the answer is simple. I love going places that don’t have all the conveniences of home. Like the quote above, I feel more alive when I have to work at it a little. As much as I love traveling in western Europe, let’s face it, it’s super easy. I pretty much know what to expect; there are few surprises and even fewer times that I feel out of my comfort zone. It’s predictable, beautiful, and certainly a vacation, a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Who doesn’t love that? But, if I’m honest, it doesn’t feel “different” and different makes it feel like real, old fashioned, down and dirty, travel.
I’m no longer intimidated by customs officials, foreign languages and a lack of English, or having any idea where anything is. I have certainly learned patience from travel. So many times, I’ve been at a loss of what to do, and I just wait. Somehow it works out. For example, one time I was flying domestic in China. We were supposed to change planes in Shanghai, but our flight had arrived after the next flight had already taken off. I was stuck in this airport at midnight with my two teenage daughters. I just stood and waited. The airline employees finally told us they had a hotel for us and instructed us how to take the bus to get to it and back the next morning so we could continue. It worked out. It just took a little time, and I was definitely out of my comfort zone.
To me, that is what travel should feel like. I want it to always make me feel a little uncomfortable. I want to work at it a little. Even though I love living in Central Europe and going home to the States and traveling, it’s not the same. I almost never feel out of my comfort zone. I know what to expect and what is expected of me. It’s not hard. I think I need to create a new term. I need a term for that travel, that I crave, which gives me that “lost” feeling. Any ideas?
When do you feel like you are traveling?