Peeking Further Inside: Travel Is Not Perfect

April 14, 2014

Peeking Further Inside: Travel Is Not Perfect - Sweet and Savoring

Hi everyone- we have guests in town this week, but I’m still determined to keep up with the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. My posts might be much shorter than usual: just a photo, maybe I’ll share some links & quotations, and hopefully there will be more substance other days. Thanks for bearing with me!

Today I’m re-posting something I wrote on my old travel blog, Lovesong of the Road, when I was in Italy three years ago. 


Peeking Further Inside [originally published 3/2/11)

What makes one travel experience more memorable than another? More pleasurable? Challenging? Just as three people who grow up together can have entirely unique memories surrounding their childhoods, the same can be said for solo travel- If I was experiencing this exact trip as the Christy of 2009 or 2005 or 1999, each one would be completely different. Weather, company, locations visited, emotional state, time of year, physical health, functionality of my camera and/or laptop all play a role in how my days go. I would like to say that I have achieved such a state of consciousness that  any external occurrences would have no effect on my mood, or how I view a particular place that I’ve stayed. Sure, any of us can say that we control our emotions, in theory. Yes, our highest intelligence tells us that we can turn a given situation around for the better, but in the moment, sometimes things are just generally crappy.

Peeking Further Inside: Travel Is Not Perfect - Sweet and Savoring

The point I’m getting at is I don’t want anyone thinking that I go away and don’t experience loneliness, or that each person I encounter is suddenly a lifelong friend, or that my depression goes away when I’m in another country. That simply isn’t true. I am here, living with another family and cleaning up their kitchen and eating meals with them and witnessing their arguments…and the last few days I have been depressed. I know, this is unorthodox– have you ever read a travelogue about a depressed person? Someone who feels a sense of isolation, inexplicable loneliness and blankness, and yet chooses to travel alone anyway? This is not a perpetual emotional state, of course, but the feelings are always there waiting in the wings, eager to creep up on me when I let my guard down, when I’m not keeping myself busy enough, when I don’t have enough contac t with certain loved ones, etc.

Peeking Further Inside: Travel Is Not Perfect - Sweet and Savoring

This trip seems to have been a particularly challenging and introspective one. It’s the first time in a long time that I am actually looking forward to returning to New York, not scrambling around trying to figure out how I can stay longer.

But it’s okay! Of course I love traveling, and I appreciate that I strive to plant myself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations. For every positive experience in Italy, it seems like there have been at least five negative/stressful ones. I look back on those situations and shake my head, swearing that next time I really will do it better. At least they make moments like arriving at a lovely new host’s home or enjoying a particularly satisfying homecooked meal that much brighter.


If travel is a process that helps you ‘find yourself’, it’s because it leaves you with nothing to hide behind- it yanks you out from the realm of rehearsed responses and dull comforts, and forces you into the present. Here, in the fleeting moment, you are left to improvise, to come to terms with your raw, true Self.       —Rolf Potts



I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for April. Today’s theme was L for loneliness.

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  • Catherine April 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I can relate to this so well – I didn’t start traveling till after college, and I had assumed all along that it was this transcendent experience. Some of it has been. Some of it has been amazing and enjoyable and I didn’t ever want to come back. Other times, not so much. There have been really challenging moments where I felt lonely and confused about who I was and why I was there. While I totally enjoy the first one more, the second one is probably good for me, too. It reminds me of all the good things in my life right here at home.

    • Christy April 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      I’m glad you could relate, Catherine. I wasn’t sure if it sounded too stream-of-consciousness or just…uninteresting? But of course other people who have traveled alone know what I’m talking about here…it can be rough, but I would never give it up. And you make an excellent point about appreciating the positives you have at home!

  • Peggy Gilbey McMackin April 14, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    The impressive part is that you made it! You managed the courage that not everyone will take on. Nice post and photos.

    • Christy April 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you, Peggy, you’re so right!

  • Charlotte April 15, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I can’t express to you how very much I love this.

    I agree entirely. So often on my travels I have felt pangs of sadness and longing… Especially in the times when I was alone and navigating uncharted territory. I think it’s only natural.

    What I find, too, is that when I’m back and have had time to reflect, sometimes I appreciate the moments I was on the open road in a way I just didn’t while I was there. And then I want to do it all over again 🙂 The beauty in traveling though is that you are perpetually out of your comfort zone… there is much learning and evolving for us in that time 🙂

    Great post and so very glad that I stopped in today. I bet your experience with your host family was amazing–and you can’t beat a good, Italian home cooked meal, huh?

    • Christy April 21, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      Oh thank you so much, Charlotte! Sadness and longing is my middle name…after ‘airplane’, ‘dessert’, and ‘leaving town’, of course. Ha.
      And absolutely to everything you said in the second paragraph! It’s outside of our comfort zones where the good stuff really happens 🙂

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