Learning Series part 2 – Slow Down…
With so many places to visit, so many things to see and do, and a serious ‘Fear of Missing Out’ on some amazing places, we are constantly driven to keep moving, to keep travelling on to the next place, and the next. Mostly, we only stay one night at a stop, arriving in the morning and leaving a mere 24 hours later. In that time, we try to see as much as possible in an area; we explore natural parks, town centres, seafronts, historic landmarks, tourist attractions, whatever there is to see. And there is A LOT to see! We walk, we cycle, maybe we catch a bus or a train, but we cover miles and miles.
That’s quite a pace to maintain, especially when on a longer tour like we are now. Or maybe you’ve tried to travel around France in 2 or 3 weeks. It’s a fast pace! It starts to feel a little bit like when you’ve been on holiday. Just as you get home you feel really tired and when you get back to work you joke that ‘you came back for a rest’. Except we weren’t getting rest because we just keep on travelling…
Recently, we started to feel the impact this travel pace is having on us. We’re feeling tired, we both caught bugs, needed a lot of sleep. We’d go to bed around 10pm and wouldn’t wake up until well after 8, often nearer 9 o’clock in the morning. We were putting it down to it being dark late in Spain, but that excuse isn’t working so well now the days have started to get longer. It’s time to face up to the fact that perhaps we’re trying to do too much.
Not for the first time, we come to realise that even if we want to ‘do it all’, we have to accept that we can’t ‘do it all’ as the world is a very big place, and countries like France and Spain are very big and it would take a lot of time to experience all of it.
That’s right, we’ve learned this lesson before, in a slightly different guise. In France we drove too much, covering large distances every day, driving many hours to try to cover a lot of ground in a short time. Places where people go on holiday for a week or more, we would try to see in a few short hours. On this tour, we’ve said we would try to drive no more than an hour at a time and we’ve been pretty good, often travelling less than an hour. But we haven’t been much better about the time we take to discover places, still often only spending mere hours in one place. So more slowing down is necessary.
Staying in a place for a couple of days just gives more time to explore the area. Maybe every so often even stay longer. We’ve recently spent a few weeks on the Costa del Sol, catching up with family. Having some time in one place, and even in one area, driving only a few kilometres, was a good way for us to rest and get healthy again. Taking a bit more time means we can explore places together, as well as have time to do something on our own if we feel like it.
Staying in a place too long can become a problem as well, as I found when we were in Benidorm for 11 days. Restlessness kicks in and a strong urge to get moving again was starting to affect me.
Finding a balance is key. There are no set rules. Maybe there is a lot to see in a place, so you stay longer. Maybe there is a lot to see but you’re not that interested, so you leave sooner. Maybe you need a quiet day, regardless of where you are, so you have a ‘stay at home day’ in the van. Whatever and wherever, we’ve learnt that we have to tune in to how we feel and resist the urge to move too fast.
As I write this, we’re parked up by a beach, planning to do nothing at all today, apart from writing this blog, updating the travel map, reading a book, maybe some crochet. It’s a beautiful day, the beach is looking great, but even Luna can’t quite summon the energy to go for a run-around in the sand.
However, I’m entirely convinced that this isn’t the last time we will learn that we have to slow down. It will come to us again in some form or other, but for now we’re trying to adjust, and doing just fine.