PHASE 2: Making the Trip. This phase can be broken down into "traveling to the destination" and "being at the destination." Traveling to the destination can be torturous. Waiting for delayed flights, sitting in tiny coach seats, having a seatmate's elbow take up the entire armrest, fighting boredom for hours on end--none of these things are enjoyable. Most traveler's endure them. My advice is to take a deep breath and "go with the flow." Travelers must keep their expectations low for this part of the trip so that when and if things go wrong, or if they're uncomfortable, they won't be greatly jarred. In other words, expect a degree of misery and don't let it bother you. A shrug of the shoulders, a smile on the face, and a philosophical "Ahhhh, it 's all part of traveling!" will take you far.
The "being at the destination" part of the trip may be fun, exciting, scary, problematic--or all of the above. A transit strike, running low on money, losing one's passport...why, any number of things can go wrong that render our trip something other than how we imagined it. But I think all of that uncertainty only enhances the excitement! When we travel, we're more alert and our senses are piqued, which makes us feel exceptionally alive. And endorphins may flood our bodies, making us happy. Traveling tests our adaptability and survival skills, which exhilarates us. Still, as we're actually experiencing the reality of the trip, we may feel many positive and negative emotions. And rest assured, a trip is rarely "perfect."
PHASE 3: Recuperating from the trip. Ahhhh, the trip is over and we're recuperating. Jet lag is undoubtedly involved, and the first day or so, we may exist in a transitional reality. In this transitional reality, our bodies are home but our minds are not. If we've traveled to the UK, we may go into a local, hometown shop and ask a clerk how many pounds an item costs. Or, if we're the parrot type, who unconsciously picks up the accent and cadence of speech found at our destination, then we may continue to pepper our speech with foreign idioms at home. But after the likes of "jolly good" or "whilst" tumble out of our mouths and locals respond with perplexed, amused expressions, the reality of being home begins to sink in. It takes time, however.
These three phases of a trip are fairly universal, but one part of the travel experience, I've found to be highly individualized: How we remember a trip. As the days, weeks, months, and years pass, details of the trip will undoubtedly fade for all. Still, years later, some people remember a great many specifics about their trip, while others remember few details and retain only an impression of the travel experience. They remember the emotions involved more than the actions.
HOW TO REMEMBER A TRIP
We travelers have two primary tools to aid our memories about our travels: travel journals and photography. Both have pros and cons.
- Travel Journals. Personally, I love keeping a journal when I travel, and I encourage anyone who enjoys writing to do likewise. But keeping a journal takes discipline--more discipline than travelers out to have fun may wish to exercise! I never buy fancy-schmancy travel journals found at places like Barnes & Nobles and travel shops; their beauty makes me feel like I should write only profound entries--and I'm rarely capable of that! Instead, I buy small, inexpensive steno pads, which are less intimidating and frees the mind. Then, each night of the trip, before bed, I spend a half hour writing, recapping the day, not just recording where I went, what I did, and what I ate, but how I felt--and my analyses and interpretations of events. Sometimes I use this information at a later date in my professional writing and sometimes I don't. Either way, when I come across an old travel journal years later, reading it always fills me with great pleasure. I suggest you give it a try too. When you run across an old journal, details that had faded from your mind return in 3-D clarity!
- Photography. Despite the fact that I studied photography in college, I'm not always keen on taking photos when I travel. In fact, there are two schools of thought on this issue. Some people believe that capturing all the details of their trip with a camera will help them remember and enjoy the trip forever. Others believe that the very act of placing a camera before their eyes jerks them away from fully living and experiencing the moment. They lament that photographers return home with only photos rather than true memories, for they disengaged themselves from events while taking photos of them. I generally fall into this camp, yet I love the challenge of capturing a meaningful photo--a picture that says a thousand words about my experience My remedy for these conflicting ideas is to take a limited number of photographs--and to buy plenty of postcards.
Enjoy your UK trips, dear Anglophiles!
(By the way....I ran across a blog for amateur photographers called PosterJack. Here is an excellent article they wrote giving simple advice for taking memorable travel photos: Travel Photography Tips)