Recently, my wife and I experienced a short three-day road trip to a nearby hill station.
It is criminal to call something a road trip when the cumulative time spent on the road was a little under ten hours. But, if I am travelling for ten hours in a ten-year-old Santro that has no more than ten comfort features, then IT IS a road trip
Interestingly, for the three-day trip, we packed a suitcase full of clothes, two office bags for our laptops and other electronic accessories, a large bag filled with snacks for the ‘long’ road, and a secondary snack-bag filled with makeshift cheese and chutney sandwiches for the ‘onward’ journey. Some people, and I am not saying ‘who’, could say that even a family of four could carry lesser crap than that. To them, I humbly say, ‘my car, my crap’!
Well, technically the car is in my Dad’s name, but I am allowed to take some creative freedom for the sake of literary greatness such as ‘my car, my crap’. I did not think this through.
Anyway, my motivation behind sharing this short story was purely topical. A topic that has been long debated among travel enthusiasts and surprisingly, home dwellers alike! What is the right amount of preparation that you need while travelling to a new destination? In short, would you take your house along with you, given an option?
If you asked me, I’d say yes. People don’t know this about me, but I am a person who hates being caught in an unprepared position. So, every time I travel, I carry far more clothes than I end up using. I literally pack every electronic device that I own, provided I can have my way.
It’s good to have a wife who can stop you from carrying your laptop, your kindle, your iPad, your Bluetooth speakers, your wired headphones, your wireless headphones, AND your phone on a three-day trip that is supposed to be a relaxing experience.
But not all people are… what’s the word… ah, yes… cuckoo. Some people can be moderate with their travel planning and still get along perfectly fine. But who wants to talk about those perfect characters? The real entertainment is found only at the extremities of human behaviour!
Let’s talk about the lean travellers, a.k.a backpackers, a.k.a. people who look poor, but are just lazy. That’s not true actually. I have a couple of close friends who travel light, and when I say LIGHT, I look like the Queen of England compared to them while travelling. Two black t-shirts, one multipurpose hopper, one splash-proof speaker, one hoodie, one Macbook, one toothbrush, and one pair of Woodlands are all that they need.
That sort of travel is my worst nightmare! What if I feel like reading a book in bed? What if I feel like playing some Call of Duty on my iPad? What if one of my black t-shirts fades to turn grey! Okay, the last one is an exaggeration, but I have thought about carrying at least one extra colour for a morning beach look!
Obviously, there is no right or wrong way to do these things. Airlines do dictate a natural cap on carrying unnecessary luggage, but that’s about it. Post that, we are what we make of our travel anxiety or lack thereof. But what does this say about the people themselves? Does a simple thing like travel planning showcase the innermost characteristics of our personalities?
I’ve noticed that in day-to-day life as well, the light travellers are more adaptable. They either do not foresee risk or are super comfortable dealing with it on the fly. The over-planners, on the other hand, are meticulous planners. They see a risk in everything and plan for fifty scenarios even before the first step is in motion.
It’s only when you put these traits in the context of business or work, that some of the cuckoo behaviour begins to add value. Project managers and program managers need to be extremely cuckoo in a way to make sure they’ve covered every avenue for risk. On the other hand, companies also need the industrious sort, who rely on the presence of mind and wit to make most of a viral situation.
Every pun was intended in that last sentence. If anything, 2020 has taught the world the importance of adaptability and resilience. Yet, I continue to travel heavy.
And the reason why I, or anyone like me, won’t change is that we like the stability that our home lends us. We enjoy defining our life as a progression across different stages rather than seeing it as a flowing river in a continuous state of flux. Is that bad? Maybe.
While milestones and stages are easy to define and work towards in life, a little familiarity with flux is essential to accept change and thrive with it. On the contrary, the light travellers need to learn the importance of having a status quo as well as an end state in mind. Otherwise, what are they living for?
In the weirdest physics reference to date, we need to think of travel, and life by extension, through the lens of wave-particle duality. Geek-time: If we are travelling from A to B, it is equally prudent for us to consider the destination as a discrete goal in time while treating the travel itself as a passing wave to be experienced at the moment.
And with that artistic analogy, let me bring the original topic to a close by saying this –
While travelling, the desire to carry our homes with us, to cling on to every last bit of familiarity, is natural. But how can we fully adopt the destination, if we don’t leave some part of ourselves back where it belongs?
So to cut the long story short, split the difference between both approaches, and pack one black t-shirt and another that’s white. Because in a situation where neither extremities are wrong, grey is always right!