As we travel through North America, a question we get frequently is “why the hell would you want to visit there?”, often followed up by some statement about it being boring or weird or small. And increasingly, this is a question that makes me feel uncomfortable, and begs a bit of examination. Today, I wanted to unpack some of the assumptions I hear when I’m asked this question:
“We are on Permanent Vacation“
To me, vacation is about going to desirable destinations. But for us, this isn’t vacation. This is simply how we live. We work 40 hours a week, we grocery shop, we cook at home, we spend frequent evenings relaxing at home and watching Netflix. I still set alarms in the morning for when I need to go to work. I’ve simply traded a one year lease for month-to-month housing.
Now, admittedly, I get more “vacation” time, or weekend trips/exploration, than most people do- it is sort of a big part of why I chose to do this. But there is still a distinction between “vacation” and my every day in my head. Hell, even with our fun weekends, I still need and am fueled by proper vacations (cruises, taking PTO days, trips to visit people or having people come visit me). Honestly, we’ve found that when we try to make every single moment feel important, we start to feel burned out and disengaged. So we make space for down days and simplicity- even mundane. Just like we did when we had a permanent address.
“Known/ Popular Travel Destinations are Better“
““You Know Exactly What You are Traveling to See”
The implication here is that there are places that are more worthy of attention, time, and travel over other destinations. Frankly, I hate that attitude. I desperately want to remain open to the idea that even the smaller, less cosmopolitan, less traveled places have something there that could be beautiful, fun, and fascinating to explore. There is a fair amount of disdain in this attitude towards small towns and small communities as “less than”. This makes me sad, because the world is filled with small communities and they are no less worthy of time and attention.
We don’t seek only a highlight reel of the world; we want to try to see as much of it as we can. So far, this openness has served us well, giving us many moments of unexpected pleasure and delight. I have petted many adorable chonky dogs, done a cartoonish sudden car-pullover to stare at breathtaking fields of rapeseed flowers that were the most neon shade of yellow I’ve ever seen, had kickass beer in countless breweries, had thoughtful conversations with people I might not have otherwise met, Googled political and environmental issues that would not have otherwise come across my plate and learned so much. Not everything has to be huge and neon and busy to be a worthwhile stop. This is the privilege we are afforded because we travel so slowly, and aren’t on vacation all the time.
“You Don’t Take Down Time”
This ties a little into the whole “permanent vacation” assumption that people tend to make about us. But it is an erroneous one. We very purposefully take a fair amount of relaxed time, and sometimes this means entire stops that are pretty calm. We take these stops to refresh a budget or save up for a bigger stop (like Saint John, NB before heading to Brooklyn), and we also take these stops when we’ve been running hard and hitting a lot of big/busy cities and need to have more dedicated low-key time. We still find things to do, don’t get me wrong! Having more relaxed time gives us more energy and helps keep us sane.
Hopefully, this helps gives you some perspective and a peek behind our curtain, and why we choose to go where we do! And maybe, it helps inspire you to travel a little of the beaten path and go somewhere new.