Every time I’ve traveled internationally, I’ve had to deal with layovers. Obviously, I’m usually not too keen on them. They take time away from my eventual destination or at the very least, they interrupt any chance at sleep I might have.
This trip is a bit different; layovers have become part of the point. As I mentioned before, the type of tickets we booked allow for any six destinations and up to 24 hours for any layover. We took advantage of this in Seoul and Kathmandu, and we just got finished with a short one in Paris.1
The very nature of this trip is geared towards short times in many places, but the layovers in Seoul, Kathmandu, and Paris are on an entirely different level. The gut reaction is to move as fast as you can, to see as much as you can, and sleep when on the flights. But after my experience, I don’t think that’s quite the way to do it.
One of the things I struggle with is resisting the commoditization of travel or the want to go to places just to say you’ve been there. With my goal to visit and see as much as I can, it’s tough to fight the urge of checking off a place on my list after only seeing what I can in a day. I feel like I’ve “been” to Kathmandu, Seoul, and Paris, but what does that really mean? Is my goal just to go to these places or is my goal to get a good sense of what these cities have to offer?
The fact that I run into this during my normal traveling, means I need to be especially weary of it on a trip like this. After three weeks on the road– hopping from hotel to hotel and flight to flight– it can get easy to go through the motions. I’ve had to set specific rules for myself not to do that.
The main thing I’ve been doing is resting when I’ve been tired or haven’t felt like doing something. That may seem a bit counter intuitive; it means I see even less of a city than I normally would. But, it also means that I’m enjoying what I do see and mentally telling myself that I’ll need to come back to a place in order to see everything.
It’s important to know yourself as a traveler and know your limitations. As I mentioned before, Mike is someone with limitless energy when he’s in a new city. That is assuredly not me. The easy answer would be for me to suck it up and get out there, but it’s not the right answer for me. That’s one of things that we really want to emphasize with this trip and our writing on this site: don’t follow the crowd, blaze your own travel path. Do it enough and you know what type of traveler you are. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push yourself, but it does mean that you need to stay true to how you like to do things.
Everyone is different. It’s more important for me to do a city semi-well, than look at everything, but see nothing. That doesn’t make my viewpoint on things right for you, it just makes it right for me. Get out there and see what you can, but be mindful of who you are and what interests you while traveling.
- But since we’re going back for more time after Madagascar, it doesn’t really count as seeing somewhere different for free ↩