So I owe you an apology. I haven’t been around much of late. For the vast majority of you this won’t have been a problem. You’re quite happy not to have had to listen to all my travel trials and tribulations and put up with me wailing and gnashing my teeth. But for a few of you who appreciate this thing what I write, you may have been wondering what’s being going on.
The answer is – not a lot!
But fear not, travel friends, this is all about to change.
You see, my world is very much all or nothing, black or white. I don’t do half-measures, grey areas, sitting on the fence. Put simply, these days, I’m either Home or Away.
To be fair, during the past year or so I’ve been Away slightly less and Home slightly more than I’d like to be in an ideal world. However, I’ve been making the best of my annual leave allowance and disposable income that I possibly can, juggling my finances and utilising weekends and bank holidays to maximise my time Away.
I’ve spent the winter months of this year being Home. I have rarely left the house except to go to work or run errands, pulling the curtains on early and making a concerted effort to catch up on lost sleep. Since my last trip in December I have been working lots of extra hours to fund my forthcoming trips, then going to bed early to wake and do it all again. I haven’t even had the time or inclination for any mini-adventures.
But now that Spring is, hopefully, on its way, I am about to begin a period of Away – with trips to Bucharest, Liverpool, Korea and Chester on the horizon.
There will be a lull over the Summer months and then once Autumn appears, move travel.
You can see how it goes. Peaks and troughs. A time to surf and a time to wax my board.
I’m the butt of many jokes from my friends and colleagues. “Crikey, get you, you have more holidays than Judith Chalmers,” they tease.
I accept that they have a point but, I’m in a fairly unique position in that I have no parents, partner or children, meaning that my decisions in life are mine and mine alone. I can live how I wish and do what I want. Other single people might enjoy the gym or an expensive shoe collection. I have chosen to travel.
I have occasional forays into trying to ‘settle’, indeed I’m in the middle of one of these right now, having taken on a permanent job 18 months ago and committing significant time and money to doing up my teeny tiny dolls’ house.
It’s fair to say that I have grown accustomed to the peaks and troughs of my life. The crazy few weeks of Away, overloading my schedule and my senses, interspersed with a quieter period at Home to reflect on my adventures and to plan new ones.
The fact is if you’re traveller then you’re a traveller, regardless of wherever you are.
Being Away is awesome but even when I’m Home, in my mind I’m travelling; there is planning and research to be done, experiences to write about. New ideas for where to go next, what I’d like to see, itineraries to draw up. The world is a big old place and learning about it can be as fulfilling as actually seeing it. And as much as I have to see, I still have a lot to learn.
I don’t have a ‘bucket list’. I live the part of my life that necessitates practicality by lists. I can’t think of anything worse than conspiring my one true passion in life to a mere series of chores to be ticked off. Do other travellers really do this? Am I missing the point?
I also particularly don’t like the way that it seems that travel is a competition. “I’ve been to 80 countries”, people brag. So what! But I did a count just now, out of curiosity. I’ve been to 34 and plan to add another six or seven to the list this year. Hardly extensive. But does this make me less of a traveller than someone who has visited three times as many places? Does it make my experiences, my emotions any less valid, just because my ‘list of conquests’ is shorter?
I’m a 40-summat woman who seems to have less stamina than she used to and has become accustomed to a certain level of comfort. As such I don’t want to spend every night for four months in grotty dorms the length and breadth of Thailand. If I did, then I’d sell my house and go. As it happens I quite like to come home to my little cat and potter around my garden and sleep in my perfect princess bed, taking time to reflect before planning my next adventure.
In short, I love to be Away. But I love to be Home too. And I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to spend my life this way. It might not be forever. But right now this lifestyle suits me very well and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So my board is now well and truly waxed and ready to hit the surf.
In two weeks’ time I’ll be in Bucharest. Bring it on!