Return to Home Page

September 3, 2013

How was your trip?

Where to?

If you’ve been traveling for any length of time then you’ve been asked the same questions a million times:

The questions get tiresome sometimes, but I understand why people ask. To be honest, I ask them, of other travelers, myself more often than I should. People are interested. They’re curious. The life of a traveler is one that seems shrouded in mystery and romance, when really it’s more likely to be dust and exhaustion on any given day. And so we answer: enthusiastically on the days when we feel like world conquers and the last of the free people. Patiently on the days when it feels tiresome. Philosophically on the days when we’ve had too much wine or the news from someplace we love brings sad tidings and we remember a place that no longer exists.

There is one question that I truly cannot bear. Every time it is asked, I’m at a loss. I have no idea how to answer. It stumps me without fail.

How was your trip?

My internal monologue runs something akin to this:

Memories run like old movie tape through my head in a flickering parade of colour, sound and smells: things there really are no words for. I remember a hundred people and a thousand conversations and those handful of life changing moments, none of whom or which can be done justice in a trite answer. How do I sum up the awe of sunrise over Angkor Wat, with the ghosts of hundreds of years of history watching with me? Or the deep meaning of one sentence gifted by an ancient Vietnamese man who took an afternoon to teach our children brush drawing: Life is short, but art is long. How can I sum up the depth of my aversion to Jakarta? Or the absolute relief of sinking into the cool waters of Chieow Laan Lake? Or the physical joy of finding salad in Bali? It’s impossible to communicate the internal lessons absorbed by climbing a 75 meter high tree with no safety gear in Australia, or found on the bamboo floor of a meditation room in Ubud, or standing beneath the killing tree in Cambodia, or lighting incense sticks at the feet of a giant golden Buddha on a sweltering afternoon.

How was your trip?

Great question. Terrible question.

How was your entire year while I was gone? Quick, sum it up for me in three snappy sentences. Can’t do it? Indeed.

And so, I do my best. I can recite the stats and the stories. I can play back the highlights reel; but that’s not really answering the question. I can’t tell you how my trip was, because it has nothing to do with the quantifiable externals, and it has everything to do with all of the things I learned, the ways I changed, and what the world taught me that I hadn’t seen yet. If you have a day, and you really want to know, a traveler can begin to scratch the surface in answer to that question.

More to the point: my journey isn’t over, and neither is my “trip.” Perhaps it never will be, which makes the question a hard one to answer.

There is one voyage, the first, the last, the only one.

— Thomas Wolfe

Posted by | Comments (2) 
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind


2 Responses to “How was your trip?”

  1. Bobby Says:

    Jennifer,

    Loved this post. We (me, wife, and 2 & 4 year old kids) are 8 months in to our “trip” and only have 4 months left until we return to the States for my daughter to start school. How we talk about this with friends and family when we return, I have no idea. More importantly, how will they understand our “trip” isn’t over? We’ve so shaped our lives to be vagabonders for a long time, and are constantly dreaming about the next locale. I think I am going to try your question, “Sum up your year in three snappy sentences…” Brilliant!

    Bobby

  2. Jennifer Miller Says:

    Glad it resonated with you Bobby! Enjoy the time you’ve got left on this journey… surely just the beginning!

Leave a Reply

Main

Bio

Books

Stories

Essays

Video

Interviews

Events

Writers

Marco

Paris

Vagabonding.net

Contact


Vagabonding Audio Book at Audible.com

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!


Vagabonding
   Vagabonding

RECENT COMMENTS

Best cheap protein powder: If you desire to increase your know-how just keep visiting...

jcp thousand oaks hair salon: At Supercuts, our designers are a few of the finest been...

Selma: Good information. Lucky me I ran across your blog by accident (stumbleupon)....

Gerald: If such is your thought, then the latest news of the US ending the 50 year...

Andrea Kirkby: Agreed that the fogginess can make winter Europe tricky to visit. I find...

Roger: I spent six winters in London in the 1980s and early 90s, and I know what you...

Roger: The more we want the world to be accessible by commercial airplanes, global...

Jess Canadian: Great interview, Raymond! You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing...

Penny: Hey fools and Ralph, Ron Wood & M. Jagger, Bono & Ron Wood – AKA...

Andrea Kirkby: Great article! Two other suggestions for making sense of big museums. 1....

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

Vagabonding Case Study: Kristin Addis
Korea’s no-man’s land
Pros and Cons of Off-Peak Europe Travel
Vagabonding Case Study: Jennifer Doré Dallas
“Authenticity” is often a pointless fetish for travelers
Traditional Christmas in Europe
Being vegetarian on the road
Teen travel- more than being “thankful for what you have”
Vagabonding Field Report: Sharing a Simple Meal with a Humble Family
Travel is ruining my kids


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts