Everyone writes about the things they take on the road. We all do it—bloggers, magazine editors, celebrity chefs. Why? People like the information; I like the information too. You see, travelers are an interesting species. Some religiously check luggage, others don’t even carry a bag. Whatever their style, though, everybody has a reason for traveling the way they do. I guess I find it fascinating, and judging from the popularity of our posts about packing, others do too.
But what about the stuff we leave behind? Everyone’s got something or someone they leave behind when the road calls, don’t they? Even if it is just a pet rock named Stoney. Travelers don’t talk as much about those things, but I think they’re just as important, and the information gleaned as important as traditional packing lists. So, we came up with the five things we often have to leave behind when we travel—be it for a weeklong Caribbean cruise or an extended trip through Europe—and how, if possible, we deal with those things from the road.
After our first trip to Amsterdam in 2011, Beth came up with our travel motto: Expect nothing. Enjoy everything. Expectations are a funny thing, especially when working in tandem with your mind and all the “travel porn”—ahem, I mean, beautiful photos of a destination—that it takes in on a daily basis. Expectations can be downright dangerous, tricking you into believing that the Emerald City is actually green or that OZ is really run by a wizard. Get my drift? Anyways, so when we finally got to Amsterdam, we were so hyped from everything we had heard and seen that we created a romanticized version of Amsterdam that no city could contend with. (On a side note, we revisited Amsterdam last summer for the Pitch Festival, and finally got it.) On the other hand, we had no expectations about Paris—I think because we knew there was no way it could live up to hype given it—and we fell in love with the city, extending our stay nearly a week. Having expectations could make your trip a disappointment, so remember, when it comes to travel: Expect nothing. Enjoy everything.
Without a doubt, the hardest thing we have to leave behind is our 10-pound hound Chachy. I know everyone says it about their own pets, but he really is the cutest little mutt. We do our best to bring him with us whenever we can, but it’s often not possible, at least not yet. Luckily, we can leave him with Beth’s sister, Bridgette, who he adores. It’s still hard though. He knows our routine, and he can tell when there is change, like Beth starts trying on clothes or suitcases start coming out. His mood changes and he gets really hurt; he’ll often steal a pair of Beth’s yoga pants to sit with and then just stare at us with his sad brown eyes. As I said though, we’re fortunate that we have family around to leave him with. Growing up, we used to leave our dogs at kennels, and while it always worked out well, I couldn’t imagine leaving him there; he’s just too sensitive. For some dogs, it’s a playground. But for him, it would be like prison, and he’s just not hard enough for the pen, even if it is more pet country club than kennel. If we didn’t have family nearby, then we’d likely look into a pet sitter. The good news is that more and more hotels are welcoming pets to stay with them. Actually, we wrote a story earlier this year about the Best Pet Friendly Hotels in the United States, and I’ve heard that pet travel is always gaining momentum in Europe too. Who knows, maybe next year is the year Chachy goes international.
Not every trip we take is outside the United States, but, at least for me anyways, when I think of travel, foreign locales always come to mind. I love discovering new countries and reconnecting with old favorites, like Italy and Mexico. To me, it’s fascinating to see how other people live and interact with one another on a daily basis. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little smile on my face every time we return home. Travel has given me the opportunity to experience the world in ways I couldn’t have imagined growing up. And from my explorations a ripple effect has occurred, helping me see my own country in a new light.
Beth and I are both close with our families, so whenever we’re out longer than, say, a week, we really start to miss them. The cool thing about traveling these days is that you are never far from the ones you love. When we were in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, for example, we were able to stay in touch with our families, because cruise ships these days are being outfitted with stronger performing WiFi capabilities. On our Carnival cruise, it switched automatically between shore-based antennas and satellite data to provide a faster, more reliable WiFi experience. Once online, Facebook, Google Hangouts, Apple FaceTime, all make it easy to stay connected with your family while on the road. But our favorite is still Skype, mainly because all of our parents are on it, including my 82-year-old grandfather, which makes it easy to connect with everyone via video chat. Plus, it also gives us the ability to make calls to landlines back home, which comes in handy to tell my grandfather to logon to his computer. One of my favorite voice chats ever had happened in Florence, Italy. We had a MiFi with unlimited data, so we connected with Beth’s parents on Skype via our smartphone and gave them a tour around the city.
They loved it!
Bonus tip: If you subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, then you get 60 minutes of free Skype calls a month.
I don’t have a lot of stuff, but I have enough. So much so, when I think about it all, it dilutes into melodic hum on repeat: Sweaters, Beer mugs, Wii U, Sewing Machines…Sweaters, Beer…you get the point, right? Traveling is a great way to help put things in perspective when it comes to stuff. If everything I need I can fit into a carry-on bag, and I’m still happy, then I really don’t need all these things at home. Pairing down your life is liberating. We did it when we were preparing for our first big trip five years ago, and we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping our wants at bay. But there is nothing like being out on the road to help you realize that stuff is just that, stuff to occupy your mind in this silly world of ours.
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.