This Travel Writing Thing is Kinda Tiring (And I Still Totally Love It)
I returned late the other night from a road trip into Northern British Columbia that I took with my mother. I’m still tired, playing catch-up with emails and work, thoroughly enjoying sleeping in my own bed… And yet I’m not really bothering to unpack much because I’m about to head off on a trip back to Italy in the not-too-distant future. In some ways, I think the many trips I’ve been on in the last few months is probably more akin what I always thought being a travel writer would be like – and of course it’s also way more exhausting than I’d anticipated.
You may remember that I spent a month in Italy earlier this year – introducing myself to (and falling in love with) Naples, learning to like Rome a little more, and spending seven hours in my beloved Venice. The only thing I’d change about that trip in retrospect is that I’d stay longer. Y’know, like, forever. But as tiring as it was, I loved every second of it. (Even when the Neapolitan taxi driver was getting a bit too chummy.)
Although writing about Italy when I’m not there isn’t difficult (especially when I gather so much information every time I visit), it shouldn’t be surprising that writing about Italy when I’m in Italy is easier. I’m inspired by everything, and constantly want to snap photographs or sit down to scribble something on an notepad. I feel like I’m attempting to absorb the country through my pores. It’s been awhile, however, since I thought of traveling to Italy as anything like a vacation. Writing the BootsnAll Italy travel guide has been a dream come true, and I wouldn’t trade my job for the world. I just want a wee bit more sleep. That’s all.
Way back when I started working at BootsnAll and mentioned my desire to move to Italy, company co-founder Sean Keener‘s reaction was incredibly positive. Since then, when I’ve traveled to Italy for work, I’ve zipped here and there through the country doing research for the website as I’m simultaneously making connections for my future life there. My Italian adventures always make my trips fly by, no matter how long it seems like they are at the outset. It’s funny to me now, but before I went to Italy last year Sean and I actually discussed the possibility of me spending some time in France during that trip as well, to do research for BootsnAll’s France travel guide. It made sense, in a way – it’s right there, why not? – but looking back now, I remember how tired I was running all over Italy and how little time I had in the apartment I’d rented in Milan. I’ve learned quite a bit in the last year about how time-consuming this kind of travel can be, and how much it can wear me out.
I’ve made no secret of my general disdain for Vegas, but as I’ve mentioned I’ll be in Sin City in the fall for a conference. And while I know that conference travel is typically anything but relaxing, I also know that Vegas is a city that’s practically designed to pamper. So yes, I’ll be busy conference-ing for at least some of the time I’m there, but I’m also hoping I’ll have time to kick back a bit. Maybe I’ll stay in one of the posh hotel suites I keep reading about on our Las Vegas blog instead of choosing one of the more sensible off-strip hotels. Maybe I’ll splurge on a massage. Maybe I’ll indulge in one of those apartment-building-sized cocktails.
Who am I kidding? If this conference is like the others I’ve attended recently, I’ll be lucky to get ten minutes to myself.
The closest thing I’ve done to a cruise is a 16-hour boat ride through part of the Inside Passage, which I just did on my recent road trip. It was beautiful, and yet I was reminded of why the idea of a cruise has never really appealed to me. After awhile, I thought, “Okay, now what?” Still, I’m beginning to understand the draw of a cruise. When I travel, whether it’s to Italy or Vegas or anywhere else, I feel almost obligated to do and see things. I feel guilty if I don’t squeeze every last drop out of a day, or if I miss something someone told me was a “must-see.” Even though I always say I’ll go back, I know the reality is that I might not – or at least not for a long time.
On the other hand, if I forced myself to book a cruise to Mexico, I’d pretty much have to relax at some point, right? Sure, I’d hit the ground running at every port of call, probably bypassing the beaches of Cancun for some nearby ruin, and soaking up the colors and chaos of every market I could find. But back on the boat, I think I’d be content to skip the climbing wall and karaoke bar and just lie on a lounge chair with a book. In fact, in my more desperately tired moments I’ve even thought I could understand why someone would book one of those so-called “cruises to nowhere,” which involve all of the sailing and none of the ports of call. (These moments were fleeting, but they were there.)
In my heart of hearts, however, I know that relaxing isn’t my top priority when I travel. Sleep is good, and I prefer to be getting my full eight hours a night, but I’m just not very good at lying around and doing nothing when I’m away from home. Perhaps my next “vacation” should be one where I tell everyone I’m going somewhere (somewhere without internet access, of course) – then stay home, turn off my phone and computer and just sleep until I’m no longer sleepy.
And since I’m pretty sure that’s not gonna happen, I think I’m going to reconsider that massage in Vegas this fall…