By Emily Landsiedel
Travel is a beautiful, inspiring, depressing, and exhausting thing. It takes you to the extremes of your emotions on a daily basis. I knew that there would be ups and downs to travel, but I don’t think I realized I would be experiencing this yo-yo effect several times within each day.
Over the last few days, I have been overwhelmed by the natural beauty of my country. I have had the privilege to experience Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. Just this morning, I woke up literally 30 yards from the edge of the Grand Canyon and drank my coffee looking out over this vast, awe-inspiring landscape. It’s during these moments that I am incredibly fulfilled and satisfied with my choice to travel.
Address Your Basic Needs
Yet on those same days I have felt stressed, exhausted, or down at some point. Although we all think we are mature adults, our bodies are akin to babies. When we get cranky, it is usually for the same reasons:
- We are hungry
- We are thirsty
- We are tired
- We have to go to the bathroom
- We are too hot/cold
I can look at each of these causes and think of a time in the last week where Peter or I experienced a low with travel as a result of them. Although they are not fully unavoidable, we have learned that planning is key to reducing them. For hunger, we make sure to always have snacks on us and start making food as soon as we see the first signs of “hanger” (when you get angry as a result of being hungry). For thirst, we have started using hydration packets a few times a day to avoid dehydration. The sleep thing we are still figuring out, but we are making an effort to get to bed earlier. For the bathroom, we are stopping at nearly every rest stop or going any time we stop for gas. We can’t do a lot about the temperature except maybe take a drive in the air conditioned car somewhere or find shade.
(Peter making us our usual lunch on the road)
Although the five reasons above cause most of the minor dips in the enjoyment of travel each day, the major lows typically occur as a result of lack of planning. I know I’m a planner, but I have learned you pay a price when you show up unprepared. As Peter explained in “Day 1! Salt Lake City and Type II Fun” we did not have a campsite reserved in Salt Lake City or check the time campsites closed, so we showed up 15 minutes too late to get a camp spot and had to get a sleazy hotel instead. On the way to Vegas, Peter and I did not communicate our expectations for the city and staying within our budget, which led to a lot of undue stress. If we had booked a hotel in Vegas a few days early, we could have gotten a very nice place for the price we paid the day of. (I broke down and got the hotel. Camping in 104 degree weather seemed doable until I actually felt the heat!)
Another aspect that amplifies the lows of travel is rushing. When I mentioned we saw Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon, I neglected to mention that was all done in the span of three days. That’s a lot to get done in such a short period of time. Peter and I have not given each of these astounding places the time they deserve in our rush to see family and friends and get to the international part of our journey. Stress has manifested as a result. Moving onto a new place is exhilarating, but when done too quickly, it can be exhausting. Peter and I have been switching locations so fast, it almost seems like we haven’t gotten a moment to breath. We definitely haven’t gotten enough sleep. The upside is that each day truly is a new adventure. The downside is that we don’t get to relax and really get to know a place. Although we don’t intend to travel so rapidly once we leave the U.S. (thank goodness!) we still will be spending only one to two weeks in each place so we have to be prepared for the highs and lows that come with a rapid pace.
(We have already spent over 27 hours in the car and we only just got to California!)
Support One Another
One effective thing Peter and I are doing to try to fight the travel blues is staying as positive as possible and avoiding sarcasm with one another. We give each other space when one of us is feeling cranky and make sure to take care of the five most common causes for irritability that I mentioned above. Peter’s late grandfather Danny once told him, “Everyone believes marriage is both people giving 100% all the time. But that’s not it. On your worst days, one person has to be willing to give 200% because their partner may not be able to give any.” Peter and I try to keep this in mind when the other is having a rough hour or day. We give the most support we can. If we are feeling down ourselves, we work hard to bounce back from the lull. The teamwork makes a big difference.
When you travel, experiencing lows are just part of the package, but when you plan ahead, stay in tune with your needs, and work as a team, you can move quickly back to the amazing highs that come with this magnificent experience.