Ever dream of taking a year off and traveling the world? Christi Garb did, and she and her husband actually bought a boat and did it. Her adventures chronicled in Unexpected Circumnavigation, a book I received as part of the From Left to Write Book Club.
I’ve travelled quite a bit, courtesy of my mom. Mostly she wanted company on her adventures everywhere from Cuba to India to the Galapagos to Nepal and more. Her boyfriend stopped joining her on vacations several years into their relationship when he did not fear her leaving him for being an armchair traveller.
My mom also encouraged me to take trips myself. Whether it was spending two semesters of my junior year abroad, when my dad tried to persuade me one was enough, or backpacking through Southeast Asia, my mom, a seasoned traveller, vicariously visited places through me.
Many of these trips were solo missions, with occasional rendezvouses with friends. I spent so much time alone and was jealous of friends and couples traipsing through countries. Decisions of where and when and what to eat, hostels and museums to visit were joint decisions and one could delight in the beauty or frustration of traveling with a partner. I did not have that.
As I read Garb’s account of her days at sea, I was not jealous. The voyage sounds miserable, even if she did have her loyal husband by her side. And the places she visited sound fascinating but I believe having someone to share the experience with, not just a group of readers made it all the more delightful.
Traveling with my mom was a different breed. We were together, always. Sometimes to the point it was stifling, like the time she took my brother and sister and their partners to India with me. The couples would pair off, decide what to buy for their apartments, laugh at inside jokes while I went to bed every night with my mother. Our trips included lots of laughs and adventures, and were certainly more comfortable than when I picked up the tab, but I was very much on my mom’s schedule (and nickel). A fair compromise for an all expense paid annual vacation.
I had read an article in the New York Times entitled Eating Your Cultural Vegetables recently about a critic who felt obliged to watch movies and television programs that were not necessarily good, but for bragging rights. That is how I feel about much of my solo travel.
Sure I learned a great deal about myself, including how to be alone, met amazing people, and had experiences that I wish I could relive now that I am a married mom of two toddlers. Now that these experiences feel so far in the past, am I selectively replacing memories to recollect a more desirable vacation than I had?