As I wrote about before, part of my personal routine during the six days we were in Nassau for Sara and Ben’s wedding was sitting over coffee through at least three rounds of breakfast eaters, many of whom were their flyer group friends. In addition to finding these people extremely interesting, I was trying to pick up a few tips. Travel gets harder as you get older, and I’m trying to figure out why so I can mitigate some of the impediments.
This article from the NY Times, about their travel writer who gets sent to 52 different places in a year, caught my eye for the same reason.
First up: use of the word “routine”. When you retire, you pretty much lose a big chunk of external structure — the need to respond to deliverables, to meet clients or teach classes, the need to present or analyze or persuade. In response, I created my own structure for the day: writing, exercise, seeing family and friends, planning to participate in Seattle art and cultural opportunities. The structure isn’t rigid. I have to account for the unexpected, like a leak in the sink which required me to be home to greet the plumber. But a structure, a routine, it is.
Travel is all about what is not routine: finding the unexpected, responding eagerly to vagaries in weather or available transportation or lodging, picking up on spontaneous paths that open up and are interesting.
I need to be more flexible about moving between my constructed days and those I designate as travel days and make more open-ended. Usually it takes me a few days to feel comfortable on the road as I let go of my accustomed routine. I could shorten that, I think, and get a faster start on seeking out new experiences.
Next up: disruption as an opportunity. When I have a travel itinerary, I expect it to unfold according to plan. I don’t like delays, canceled flights, airport overnights that I didn’t choose. I don’t sleep well. I’m chomping at the bit to get home — even though I have no need to get back to work, or resume caring for family members. I never schedule appointments on my first day back from a trip, and most of my appointments can be rescheduled anyway without much penalty. But disruption of the anticipated plan, for me, is just that: disruption.
For Sara and Ben and the flyer group, disruption is an opportunity to enrich their experience. If they are bumped from a flight, how much compensation can they get from the airline? What amount offered justifies volunteering to be bumped? What can they do during the extra time in place that will make the change more fun than annoying? This is a sea shift in attitude for me, but an important one if I want to be a more savvy traveler.
These are two examples, and I’ll be developing more. The article below prompts more thinking. Oddly enough, the bit of advice offered by the Times travel writer that I like best is “Don’t pack anything you’ll only use twice.” I think that’s a life lesson too.
Glad to hear your thoughts on being a more savvy traveler, older or not. 🙂