It is More About the Journey – The New Normal

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We had a really wonderful two weeks at home visiting our family and friends. It was a whirlwind of travel throughout Alberta, and as always, we are very grateful for the support of all who showed up in full force to visit us if only for a few short hours.

Our family and friends were as excited for our upcoming journey as they usually are, and this time, perhaps even moreso then our previous departures to Latin America. I guess I can understand it in a way – when we made the decision to travel South America, it was met with worry and fear for our safety, and probably just general concern on whether or not we had completely lost our marbles for making such a drastic life change. We’re a couple of years in now, have proven that our marbles are (mostly) intact, and we’re soon to be traveling to a more modern part of the world with perceived higher safety for tourists (and help would just be a free call away).

Understandably, they expected excitement to ooze from us too. Never before had we heard so many variations of: “Omigod, you are going to Ireland! Are you excited or what?”

After considerable thought, and with full honesty, I had to answer: “No.”

 

I wasn’t excited. And I couldn’t even say why.

 

I wanted so badly to be. I wanted to have sleepless nights in eager anticipation, I wanted to be giddy with the fact that in just a few days, I would be roaming the enigmatic Emerald Isle.

Something must obviously be wrong with me, I thought. Or, was Ireland maybe the wrong choice for our next adventure, if I couldn’t get excited about it?

An astute friend finally pointed out something so obvious, it hadn’t occurred to me:

 

“This is your new normal. Jetting off to new places is just what-you-do.”<

 

My new normal. Compared to my “old” normal, of being a corporate nine-to-fiver and suburbanite, I’ll take it. But then will I get to a point where I will tire of this normal too? And then what? What can possibly beat this?

This thought plagued me through the last few days leading up to our departure. I was still sleeping well at night, I wasn’t panicking with wonder at what-I’d-forget-this-time. I woke up the morning of our flight with no butterflies in my stomach, with no tears in my eyes at leaving my family and friends for gawd-knows-how-long.

It felt like just another day. And it pained me.

 

Over Greenland

The plane took off, and still nothing. As we were flying over Greenland, the low sunlight bewitchingly lit the sky with pink and purple hues even though it was the middle of the night. I admired it, but it didn’t provide any sort of symbolic “aha” moment that I was waiting for.

We landed, yawning. Without sleep on the 9 hour plane ride, we grabbed our carry-on and stumbled off the plane. The brisk, fresh morning air squeaked through open doors and gave us the jolt that we needed.

We fell into our airport routine. I can’t explain why we behave this way, but Pete and I instinctively careen through airports as if someone is following us…as if we are contestants on the Amazing Race and have to Get! There! First! We squeezed past slow walkers and raced through our check stop at the departure monitors, quickly getting the details of our next flight. We edged our way to the front of the baggage carousel, eagerly grabbed our heavy packs and bee-lined to the customs counter before racing off to the next airport terminal.

 

And after we successfully navigated through the maze that is Gatwick airport and Came! In! First! in line at the Aer Lingus counter, it hit me. Finally, the rush of excitement that I had been waiting for. Despite being dog tired from a long, sleepless flight, we were here, and we were energized. We had successfully found our way around a new place and were already learning new things – if I want coffee with milk, I ask for it “white”!

 

So. This is what it’s all about.

 

It is nothing against you, Ireland, I am sure you are lovely and I’m happy to be here. Β I’m ready to explore your dramatic cliffs and endless green fields, but I’m truthfully more excited about learning to drive on theΒ wrong other side of the road, and anxious for the thrill of sharing a stout with a local in an off-beat pub. Β I’m realizing that it’s more about the journey and adventure then it is about the actual destination.

In this new normal, it’s all about everything in between.

 

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44 Comments

  1. Whatever you do, don’t comment on the accent. They will quickly remind you that we are the ones who bastardized the English language. πŸ™‚

    I’m glad you are getting your mojo back. It really is a wonderful area of the world, and the one thing we were suprised about was how easy everything was. No language barrier, not really any cultural barriers, and everything works all the time. It is a far cry from South America, and that is both good and bad. Sometimes you need the challenge to appreciate that where you are is different from where you came from. When things are too easy we don’t always appreciate them like we should.

    Good luck on the next leg of your adventure. We are enjoying the UK a lot and hope you get a chance to come here, especially Scotland.

    1. Thanks Besty! It was a little concerning to be getting on a plane and not really caring about where I was going, but now that I’m here and getting in my groove, I’m much more excited about it all. Especially when the home owner (we just arrived at our house sitting place), drew a map of the small towns around us, and of course included where all the pubs are! So many similarities, yes, but also some big differences. As you know we love to dig into the local way of things, and are happiest when we start doing that! πŸ™‚

  2. I appreciate the honesty that comes with this post. Too often now I am reading stories of other backpacker/traveler types, and all of them seem to have an attitude, a sense of being jaded.

    “I am constantly surrounded by beautiful mountains, they don’t surprise me anymore” – “meh, its just another ancient ruin” – Yet, these bloggers continue to have tons of readers.

    Thank you for your honesty and upbeat view on everything you do.

    1. Thanks J! We definitely have had those moments too, where everything begins to look like everything else and is WAY less appealing…and I’m sure we’ll have those moments again. But for now I feel like I’ve gone through another little evolution, where I am beginning to appreciate the other things about travel more. It only took me two years to realize it. πŸ™‚

  3. πŸ™ Put some pep in your step sunshine! You’re in the land of shamrocks and guiness (and potatoes and pretty girls with red hair…oh sorry! We enjoy different things for different reasons)…you have a mansion to look after, car to drive, money to spend…and a life to live! As I drove down 52nd this am I thought…oh fuck me…I cannot wait for everything that comes after this shite! πŸ˜‰

    Look forward to some excellent experiences over there!! Smile…everyone loves you both!

    1. Hey…don’t take this as we’re feeling down at all! There is pep in our step, no worries! It’s just another new way of looking at things, a little “evolution” if you will.

      We still, could never be happier…trust me. πŸ™‚

  4. This great and so true. We travel a lot and I used to be on the edge of my seat for days before we left. Now I don’t get excited until we arrive and I think about all I will learn and do and see. I like the local flare as well. All that aside I think you will love Ireland and the people. It is an amazing country and is very beautiful. I look forward to seeing your take on it. All the best.

    1. Glad to hear I’m not alone Amy, thanks for your comment! I am beginning to really love it here, I’m glad we have a full two months. The countryside is so beautiful, and I’m now starting to get excited about all the places to see…we may run out of time!

  5. Hey Peter and Dalene,

    I found a great seat sale to Frankfurt, so I’m on my way to Europe Sunday night for a few weeks! E-mail me your coordinates and I’ll try to connect if I can get to Ireland. My travel plans are still up in the air, but I hope to spend a bit of time in Ireland before heading to France to see a day or two of the Tour de France.

  6. I think once we begin traveling we know the airplane ride isn’t the exciting part (or at least we hope it isn’t!). We know it’s the destination, the people, the missteps, the realization that they do things differently in other places, the humbling experiences. That is what gets us excited and until we land in that place we haven’t arrived yet.

    Sounds like you found your mojo and that is all that is important. Have a great trip and I can’t wait to here all about your European adventure.

    1. Thanks Debbie! And I’m looking forward to the “itinerary” that you are going to craft for us for the rest of Europe – right??? πŸ™‚

  7. It’s an interesting transition from “OMG I can’t believe we’re doing this!!1!!” to “Cool, this is our life now.”

    Which is a good thing – you can’t have adrenaline pumping 24/7, as that’ll kill your central nervous system! πŸ˜›

    It’s all about adaptation….

    1. I love the fact that I can still be surprised by this switch to our “new life”. It is about adaptation, and this is one weird thing that I never imagined adapting to – the fact that I don’t get excited right from the start! But, it is coming to me now, and it’s pretty awesome….

  8. Congrats on your new adventure and I’m glad that the excitement has returned. Sometimes the excitement doesn’t catch you are right in the middle of the experience and you can look up and finally proclaim “this is f’ing awesome!”

    1. Thanks Kim! I am finding now that we are a few days into our new adventure, that it is really coming to me gradually. Like, last night there was a perfect rainbow over an open field where sheep were grazing? How Ireland is that?? It was so beautiful, and gave me another excited “jolt”…

  9. Love the new normal. People are amazed at me when i say you could give me a plane ticket for departure tomorrow leaving for Siberia and I would not be fazed one little bit. Once you do it for several years you realize how easy it is.
    Send me back to the old normal though and I wake up in sweats and spend every day anxious and afraid.
    Can’t wait to get back to the new normal. Actually, this time we’ll have a newborn which is slightly nerve wracking and will take me to a new new normal. I don’t worry about moving to a new country with her, all that concerns me is making sure the finances come flowing in.

    1. I’m glad you say you “love” it. It was concerning at first (as you can tell!), because I really thought I was losing my draw for travel, and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting excited. But, now I realize it is all just a little evolution in who I am, and that’s okay. Besides, I should be happy that it doesn’t stop me from sleeping!!

      The “new new” normal – haha! Oh, you guys will make it happen, there is no doubt in that!

  10. Solid post!

    You can never force those pre-trip senses of excitement. I think they come when you least expect it. In line at the airport. Going through customs. And even ordering coffee by its colour (which sounds totally rad, by the way).

    Here here to the travels in between.

  11. I think all travellers go through this eventually. Even I’ve been a little unexcited about certain trips, and I haven’t travelled a whole lot. Maybe travel is your normal now, but I’m sure you’ll find new things to get you excited again.

    1. I’m glad to hear from others that do feel the same way, I was beginning to think it was a signal to me that I should stop traveling. But, now that I am here and realizing how amazing this part of the world is, I’m getting excited again!

  12. Congrats on your new adventure! I love how you call it ‘the new normal,’ but normal can still get exciting every now and then πŸ™‚

    I am the same way in airports… I feel and act as though someone is chasing me I rush around like getting to the security line first is the most important thing that could ever happen. I don’t know why πŸ™‚

    1. This normal is still exciting, I’m just finding that it’s a bit more gradual. And that’s okay! πŸ™‚

      That is so weird about us and airports! We’re those annoying people that race past everyone else. And I don’t know why, most of the time our bags are the last to come out and we are no further ahead! πŸ™‚

  13. I think the more you travel, unfortunately, the more desensitised you’ll become to elements that previously would have had you bouncing up and down (remember your first plane ride?)

    Your normal becomes everyone else’s idea of excitement, but their normal also becomes yours. Ordinary things from home now become novel, to be daydreamed about.

    I hope you have an amazing time in Ireland and can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

    1. Yeah, I guess I daydream about some things about home, but it’s much less of a fantasy fulfilling thing then travel used to be (or still is, except that the excitement seems to build up more gradually, and is more obvious when I’m actually in it).

  14. I see what you mean by the new “normal”, but I do think the ultimate thrills you’re describing are tied to the destination. The things you described are Ireland – left side of the road, stout in pub. It’s those quirky, cultural moments that probably wouldn’t happen anywhere else, but Ireland.

    Maybe what isn’t so large for you these days is the concept of the destination. The idea of a place is less important to you than finding out the small elements that add to the culture as a whole?

    Food for thought, and certainly doesn’t mean I’m right by any stretch. πŸ™‚

    What resonates with me from this post is how exact and routine getting to a place is for sure. The way you describe the airport scene, I completely relate! The act of getting there itself doesn’t thrill me as much anymore, but once I get there? So different.

    Enjoy Ireland, for all it has to offer! Still jealous. πŸ˜€

    And been reading your posts even though I haven’t been commenting as much as I want.

    1. You totally are right, and maybe I missed being clear about one part (although, maybe it is just becoming more clear to me now that I am here!) And that is that the excitement is building, more gradually then it ever has. LIke, when the home owner drew us a map of the small towns in the area, and included the location of all the pubs, I LOVED that. How Irish is that? That got me excited to be here. Or catching a full rainbow the other night over a rolling green field filled with sheep. Super Irish, and it made me so glad to be here. I guess maybe the destination needs to show me these things, I no longer just get excited for excited’s sake. πŸ™‚

      Thanks Jeannie! πŸ™‚

      1. And one more thing (just because you got me really thinking about this…) the reason I mentioned getting a pint or driving is that those aren’t exactly, totally, Irish things. They are, but they aren’t. We can have a pint with a local just about anywhere, or pick up new driving techniques just about anywhere (regardless of what side of the road). As opposed to seeing the Giants Causeway, or visiting the Guinness brewery, which are, specifically Irish. If that makes sense…?

  15. It’s a thrilling feeling when you realize that THIS is your new normal isn’t it? Towards the end of our RTW I felt rather jaded at going to new places, but sure enough the last few minutes before our bus would arrive, we’d land or we’d check into a new hostel I was back on the ‘this is so cool’ wagon. While I missed the stability of having a home (we weren’t housesitting like you guys and moved constantly!) now that I’m home I miss the excitement of being on the move.

    Enjoy Ireland and keep the positive attitude!

    1. Thanks Jillian! At first I thought there really was something wrong with me, or my situation. But now having been here a week, the excitement has built up again, and you’re right – it is THRILLING feeling! I’m excited to be here, and I’m excited by everything around me. I will never once take for granted that I’m fortunate to be able to live this way… it’s just an evolution of emotion over time. πŸ™‚

  16. Well this is a good kind of normal if I do say so myself. And maybe you can pull out some Newfie-isms to help you fit it. πŸ™‚

      1. There are some big similarities to Newfieland around here. We went out to a small fishing village called Howth that reminded us so much of the maritimes!

    1. Funny how that happens, hey? And I guess we should be happy about it – I read somewhere once that for most vacationers, the lead-up to the vacation is often the high point as opposed to the vacation itself. So, we’ve solved that problem!

  17. Great read!

    Everything becomes a routine after a while, but the experiences are what remain new and fresh. But even that gets stale if you seek the same kind of expats wherever you go.

    I think a combination of traveling to a place that you’re really excited about, as opposed to an “assignment”, and having a plan to step out of your comfort zone when you get there will keep things fresh.

    Picking up a completely new hobby or activity in a new place will help achieve that as well.

    Came via Nomadtopia.com πŸ˜‰

    1. Hey Rich – thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll stick around! πŸ™‚

      The few days leading up to Ireland did really concern me, I NEVER thought that this lifestyle would be come routine. A new country every few months! How can that be routine?

      But now that we’ve been here over a week, I think it was just the concept of the destination that was not exciting me. Now that I’m here, and Ireland is pulling out all the stops to impress me (she really is!), I’m so happy and excited to be here. I guess I just no longer get excited for excited’s sake!

  18. I think transitioning from one Anglo culture to another is always less exciting than going elsewhere. You know: Australia, Ireland, Canada, US, UK. They have a whole bunch of similarities, and the culture shock one travels for is (largely) absent. Hope it grows on you, though.

    1. I think you’re absolutely right. There is less of a “challenge” to being here, and that challenge is often a big part of the fun. But, it is definitely growing on me. Dangerously so. 2 months is going to go by too fast…

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