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

search engine marketing salary india: This is my first time go to see at here and i am...

Roger: I love your attitude, Paul & Karen.

Stephen: A compelling argument for the importance of remembering to live in the moment...

katie houston: why don’t they sell their souls to God and get a bigger and better...

katie houston: why don’t they just sell their souls to God who has more money...

Anna Hall: Hi, I have recently found my mum’s journals from a couple of trips she...

HHC: Why should Canadians allow our flag to be used; considering that action is known...

Adam: Hey Hardcore, I like your style; I’m a fellow vagabond and dirtbag: if...

Chris Plough: Damien – thanks man! Where did you backpack through?

Margie: I couldn’t agree more. Ours is not really a happy society when work comes...

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

Why change is a beautiful thing and why you should travel right now
Vagabonding Case Study: Paul Farrugia & Karen Sargent
Considering a. career break? The time is now: Meet. Plan. Go.
Mike Spencer Bown on the dark side of travel and technology
A week in Nepal
The Worst Tourists in the World
Vagabonding Case Study: Johnny Isaak
7 paradises for 7 loves
Vagabonding Field Report: Organic Chocolate Farm in Costa Rica
A budget guide to roadtripping Australia


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts