Adventure vs. Comfort

Choosing Between Travel Personalities

by Lisa

As a child, I went to a ritzy private school on scholarship.  Many of the other kids would talk about going to their family’s vacation homes over the summer.  I asked my parents about that, and why we didn’t have a vacation home somewhere.  My dad answered, “why would you want to go to the same place on vacation every year?  Don’t you want to go to new places?  See new things?”  I was convinced — it seemed silly to me to keep returning to places I’d already been when there was so much more to see and do.

Now that I’m older and have been to more places, however, I realize that I have two travel personalities, and they are constantly at war with one another.  One of them, the adventurous one, is always seeking out new experiences, new places, new adventures.  She revels in the unknown, prefers to get lost and stumble into opportunities by accident, make new friends, and generally lives by the seat of her pants.  She’s a complete blast, but exhausting to be with.

The other personality, the nostalgic one, seeks what is comforting and familiar.  She is the one who gets homesick and misses her bed, her condo, her cat.  She likes to re-watch movies and television shows.  She has lots of old old friends.  Most of the time, she stays quiet while the adventurer takes off, popping up only on the way home.  She is the one, however, who yearns to return to places she has loved.  She is the one who insists on going to Disney World over and over again.  She is the one who can understand having a vacation home and returning, year after year, to the same place — not for adventure, but to rest, rejuvenate, recharge, to relax into pure enjoyment without the stress that comes from the adventure.

I try to let the adventurous one rule while planning vacations (“no, you cannot go back to Zion again, you must check out a new National Park…”), because I know that there is so much I want to do and see and I’ll never get to it all.  What’s more, the adventurous one pushes me to really get out there, challenge myself, and live without apology.  She’s inspiring.

Sometimes, however, I need to let the nostalgic, comfort-seeking one have her day in the sun.  This time, she wants to return to Paris.  I’ve been to Paris several times, and the adventure I get out of the visits has changed.  The adventure is now in trying out new restaurants and letting myself stroll into less familiar areas of the city to discover a shop I’ve never seen, rather than in diving into the complete unknown.   A couple of years ago, I ventured to Paris on my own for the first time, and the calm that settled over me while I sipped wine at a cafe in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one I haven’t felt since.  I seek that calm again, and so the nostalgic, comfort-seeking personality is getting her way this time around.  I owe it to her.  She doesn’t ask for much.

Once I’m recharged, once I’ve taken the time to take a trip during which I don’t have to exert the energy to be adventurous, where I can just relax and enjoy and be comforted by a place I love, then the adventurous one will reign again.  She’s already making plans.

Whether she’s watching the sunrise over the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, enjoying crepes on the Left Bank, or herding cattle on a ranch in Montana, Lisa’s travel philosophy is to embrace spontaneity, experience everything, and regret nothing. Known in her circle as the trip mom, she’s always the one prepared for any eventuality, opening the door to countless possibilities at every turn. After spending six weeks driving around the U.S. by herself, Lisa realized that solo travel — charting her own course and making her own adventures — is thrilling and fulfilling, and she now seeks out solo travel opportunities to new and exciting places as often as her day job will allow. Lisa writes about solo camping and hiking over at her own blog, Her Side of the Mountain,

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    1. I love this. 🙂

    2. I really enjoyed reading this post, especially since I was just talking about this with a friend yesterday about the dilemma of visiting new places or returning to places you’ve already been that you loved. I’m always torn between the desire to go somewhere new, and the desire to return to a place that already means a lot to me, and like you, I try to balance the two instincts. It’s worth it to return places, to build relationships with cities and countries (and National Parks, for sure!) that will last and grow throughout your whole life. I’ve sometimes found it more rewarding to be somewhere for the second or third time, when there’s a bit of history between me, and the place, when we’ve got a little bit of a shared life together. And I also know exactly how you feel about Paris…I’m living in Paris right now, but have to leave soon, and I’m going to have to fight myself a bit to make sure I don’t spend all my future vacations just coming back to la ville lumière. Great post!

    3. I love the way you put this! I feel the same way all the time, and it’s always a little difficult while you’re letting the two parts battle it out and when you’re feeling those awful feelings of homesickness. Great post!

    4. Love this post (and the comments afterward)!! I think it’s amazing how many of us Go Girls do feel tied to home. You’d think that we’re not nostalgic at all when we travel so much, but we really are!!

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