By Natasha L. Foreman
Since I was a child I have enjoyed lugging a bag through the airport, or hopping into a car, and taking a road trip. It has always been a sense of adventure for me as I wondered what I would see and experience. I love snapping pictures and I’m a self-proclaimed “foodie”, so wherever I go I’m snapping pictures and stuffing my face—good thing I work out and stay active.
Travel is especially awesome when done with my family. My mom loves to travel, especially road trips. Give her a map and she will hop in a car, and be ready to go. She and I have had numerous road trips throughout the U.S. and I cherish the pictures and memories, even the ones from the most dreaded trips (like the one where I did 90 percent of the driving, yet we didn’t stay in one hotel or motel along the way).
My other favorite person to travel with is my man. He and I truly enjoy traveling together, and we do it frequently. He’s the only person that I could ever spend more than 4 weeks with in seclusion. Although we differ in how we plan our trips and how we approach leisure trips, we enjoy the time we spend together. What I mean by this is, I pack my bag(s) days earlier, check in with the airlines one day before, and like to get to the airport at least 1.5 hours before my flight. He has a habit of packing the day of, checking in within an hour of the flight, and that’s usually when en route to the airport with barely enough time to get on the plane.
I always poke fun at him and tell him that we can’t be like OJ Simpson running through the airport in those 1980s Hertz commercials. For some reason he keeps thinking that we are, and I have found myself running through airports in full stride and sweating profusely trying to get to our gate before they close the doors (which has happened at least three times in the past three years, and twice the doors were closed). Thank goodness I never wear high heels at airports!
We now have an agreement that for leisure trips I will pack his bag, and do my best to make sure he checks in early and that we leave for the airport with enough time to buy a magazine, and maybe hang out in one of the lounges. For business trips I just roll my eyes frequently and hope that this translates to, “move your butt buddy!”
Retreats not Vacations
When we take “retreats” (since work-aholics don’t “vacation”) I don’t desire a structured itinerary. I would rather allow the day to naturally unfold with the occasional planned activities. My beloved on the other hand will bug me incessantly with, “so what are we going to do tomorrow? What are our plans for today? If we don’t have a plan then we will just be vegging out in the hotel or on the beach” and every time I hear this, I look at him like he’s crazy and then I smile.
The man is on “retreat” to relax and not focus on making serious decisions, since all he does 7 days per week as the CEO of his company, is make decisions, yet on “retreat” he has a hard time relaxing and letting go the first few days of our trip. So it is then my duty to help him let go, disconnect, and stop trying to control every aspect of the trip. Once he does it’s an amazing sight to see, and we make the most of our time together. We turn into two little kids free of rules, curfews, and schedules. Each trip we take we do a better job of disconnecting from excessive phone calls, emails, social media, and the Apple products that seem to be attached to our hands at all times.
Business trips are structured, well-planned, and have formal, measurable objectives. But unless there’s some leisure time in that trip, the tension builds up in your body and before you know it you’re yearning for a beat-me-up-and-knock-me-out deep tissue massage. I don’t envy my man when he travels. He hops from plane to plane a few times per week, and when he calls me in between meetings I can hear his voice as the ripping and running begins to take its toll on him.
I remember to always reflect on this when I travel for business. I pack for the plane, hotel, and for my meetings. To me there are three phases and I need to have some level of comfort to make it through. I mentally prepare myself for the trip and for the wear and tear my body will endure. But I also force myself to take moments for me, moments to rest and recharge, and moments to check out my surroundings.
What’s the sense in traveling around the world and you don’t take 1-2 hours per day sightseeing, people-watching, supporting local small businesses, and/or trying local cuisine? What’s the sense in staying in a hotel with numerous amenities that you don’t use?
How do you know about the conditions of a town, city, state, or country, if you don’t walk or drive around meeting people and seeing how folks live?
There are a few things that I have learned that I want to share with others: Engage in dialogue with local residents. Learn something about the people who work at the hotel where you are staying. Where are they originally from? How long have they lived in the area? What are their hopes and dreams? Have they ever visited your home town? Do you have any shared interests?
I just returned from a trip to New Mexico, and while it was a business trip, I made the time to watch television for a few hours, take a nap, go horseback riding, and I even went to bed early one night so that I could get 8 hours of sleep. I made the time to get to know my driver and several hotel employees, and not just the people that I was there to meet for business purposes. I got to learn more about New Mexico, her residents, and the amazing culture there. I have traveled to and through this state maybe 10 times, but this trip opened my eyes to much more than I had ever experienced. I even made it to the airport with enough time to window shop, and eat an enchilada-style burrito that gave me food poisoning about 45 minutes after boarding the plane. Even with that painful experience, the trip overall was absolutely amazing.
Life is about relationships and being open to opportunities and experiences, so wherever I go I make it a point of meeting new people, seeing new things, and having new experiences. Whether its for business or pleasure, I’m packed and ready to roll—especially if I get the chance to travel with my man. So yes, I’m ready for my next trip. It’s fast approaching, and I look forward to the adventure.
Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Natasha L. Foreman.