One month already! It goes by so quickly. Our plans were originally to bounce around between at least 2 countries. It IS a month after all. But after a week or two, we decided to stay in Portugal because we really felt at home here and knew that there was so much to experience.
Now that we’ve hit the first travel benchmark (I’ve never traveled for this long before), it makes you think and reflect. Looking back we take a mental inventory in our mind. How many churches did we see? Hmm, 2. How many museums have we visited? …None. Beaches? – it IS Portugal after all! Err…2.
This is not looking good. We ask the question: What did we do in a whole MONTH of travel then? Wait, wait, we DID see many UNESCO heritage sites! *Whew* and we walked around, A LOT.
The real question is: Why do we feel as if we have to justify our travels? And why is it tied to a sense of accomplishment?
The funny thing is we skipped half the main attractions in most of the places we were in (How could we NOT go on a wine tour in Porto?! Or ride the boats in the canals of Aveiro?) It is often hard to let go. Sometimes I ask Mike, “Well, should we do this attraction?” Mike will ask me why. And the answer is usually, “Just to say we did.” He will give me a look and then we move on, as I glance back every few moments fighting that bit of anxiety of needing to do and see everything there is to do in a place, just because. Since we are travelling for a year, we have to spend and use our money and time wisely. That means if we do an attraction or an event, it has to be something that we really are doing for ourselves, because we enjoy it. Not because it is something to do. So, did we really miss out in Porto? Well, we don’t like Port wine anyway. How about the boats in Aveiro? Meh, we walked up and down the entire route of the canal and took pictures OF the cool boats, so we’re good.
We kind of went the other extreme and left it very open, which made for a lot of days where we did nothing at all or were left scrambling for things to do and eat. However, our openness allowed for some really cool things to happen: Getting to know people at a hostel because we weren’t always in a rush out the door, staying in places long enough for the locals to have conversations with us, going to a seafood festival with our Airbnb host, being backstage at two separate concerts because people we met knew the performers. Many of these aren’t things you check off a list. We may have missed a museum or two and skipped a tour of a castle, but we made memories that are truly meaningful to us.
What we are beginning to learn is to let go. Because when you do, you just never know what might happen. This year, we are in it for the long haul.
Vicki + Mike