To vacation is to physically vacate one location for another. Why do we take on the expense and risk to travel away from our home, our nest? I suppose for the same reasons that some may hike up a mountain; to see a view of life other than the one we are already living. It can be a dangerous thing, seeing the world from a new perspective for we may begin to question all of our reasons for living as we already do.
Traveling I have found for me opens not just outward vistas but inward ones as well. Some of the greatest traveling experiences I have experienced have been the ones that included the least amount of luggage. Baggage can tie us in the past and not the present or anchor us in such a way that we may be unable to see a different future.
To travel is to quit one location for another and what we bring with us says a lot about where we are going. Many years ago for our first trip to Italy my partner and I left our home, our familiar continent and flew across the Atlantic Ocean. We flew over the Italian Alps to land in a place with different languages and customs with a backpack only slightly larger than what students carry to school for a single day. Imagine living for a fortnight with only as much luggage as what a student carries to school for a single day. How to do it? If it isn’t essential leave it.
I did not learn frugal economy overnight but with years of experience. My first move to the Sunshine State of Florida was with my family and in one vehicle. We each were allowed a single piece of luggage; a small piece of luggage. We were not on vacation but my brothers and I were beginning the autumn semester of school in Cocoa Beach. Thankfully we could attend school in shorts and t-shirts which compress easily into small luggage.
My next move to Florida was by plane with my partner and our toddler-age daughter and that was accomplished with less luggage than what some people take on a golf vacation. We were actually moving away from familiar Huntingdon County Pennsylvania to tropical Orlando Florida to set up a household. As with all my summer vacations leaving Virginia for Pennsylvania I had understood what it was to miss a forgotten item, like an orthodontia retainer, but that is a different story.
We are at times defined by the things we carry with us; our digital baggage may divide us more than actually connect us to those around us. Our clothing lets others know who we are by the iconography on our t-shirts and our baseball caps. For women shoes and handbags say a lot about us; where we shop and what we are willing to buy to declare our favorite brands. We define ourselves by another’s label. After our first trip overseas I became aware how much our clothing declares our nationality for better or worse so that others have a perception of us before we even speak to them. That is an entirely different type of baggage but baggage all the same.
Sometimes we say that a vacation is to get away, but I think a vacation can be an adventure to engage in a different culture or environment, to see the world differently and ourselves as well. Be aware that in our new role as a traveler we might grow in such a way we no longer fit into our old life. Like our favorite summer clothing we outgrew over winter we may have to re-envision ourselves. An average caterpillar lives on just one host plant, but once mature Painted Lady butterflies migrate thousands of miles over many environments to fulfill their journey. Are we to be caterpillars nourished on a single plant or are we to be travelers engaged in a more satisfying life?
Parts VIII of The Guild Cygnet considers the dangers of leaving their prison for the unknown. She recognizes there is more than one kind of courage; the ability to endure their confinement and the audacity to escape from it.
Image created on Strathmore Mixed Media Toned Blue paper with Caran D’Ache Pablo Pencils and Caran D’Ache Supercolor Soft Aquarelle Pencils.