Well folks, I was away on a much needed vacation to Sweden. And at one point during the vacation I thought…I should blog about all this! But didn’t. So you are getting my post-vacation thoughts instead.
First, when you feel like you are starting to feel “blah” about everything, take a vacation. When human interactions feel like a burden, take a vacation. When you realize you mostly notice the negativity amongst humanity, take a vacation.
Now I’ve talked about taking breaks whatever way you can, staycations, weekend getaways etc. But today I want to be that reminder for you, that vacations abroad can be life-changing. If money feels like a barrier to you, but you’ve been able to take a cruise, I assure you that my trips have rarely costed as much as an all-inclusive cruise does. So before you write me off, I totally understand the money concern. However with Airbnb now in most countries around the globe, affordable places have opened up to us in ways they weren’t previously. Now instead of staying in a hotel or hostels, we have the Airbnb option. This allows you to live like a local. Trying locals cafe’s, restaurants and grocery stories, that aren’t in the tourist areas. You are forced to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and be vulnerable as you attempt to navigate another language and culture. (With that being said, I fully acknowledge that times can be tough financially and personally, so if this post feels like salt on a wound, no need to continue reading, I get it. xoxo) Also I am not getting paid by Airbnb, but honestly…I should be!
For me, this push, this chance to observe another way of living, is life giving. I love that reminder that how I do things, how New Yorkers do things, is just one way of doing it. It’s not the right way or the only way, it’s ONE way. This reminder is crucial for me, because I can start to believe that stress and anxiety is the only way to go if I want to survive. And many many other countries would say that actually stress and anxiety are the problem.
One of the things I took away from this trip was very few people took coffee “to go.” Coffee is meant to be enjoyed and savored. Not thrown down your gullet like a shot. Can you imagine this? Do you already do this? Good! Because what’s the hurry? Yes, we need to get to work on time. Yes, we have “things to do.” But we always will. Might as well, stop and smell the coffee in the meantime.
Nature is appreciated, valued and incorporated into every day life. Even though we were staying in the gorgeous city of Gothenburg, we still managed to get a ton of nature time. Our first day there we hiked in a nearby forest, (a 5-minute walk from our Airbnb I might add!) we spent time by the water and we explored a botanical garden. Now you’d expect this of us tourists because you do that kind of thing when you’re a tourist, right? But these areas were full of locals. Locals enjoying the outdoors around them, incorporating nature into their daily lives. Taking a lunch by the gardens, finishing their day by hopping a tram or taking their bikes and heading to the islands. I took one photo of an older woman sitting on a bench in the gardens, her head back with a slight smile, eyes closed as she took in the sun. She epitomized being present and grateful.
And lastly, I encourage foreign travel for the people you will meet along the way. My boyfriend and I were in Sweden to celebrate the wedding of one of my most favorite people on this planet. I met her 17 years ago in Ireland, when we both worked as volunteers at a homeless shelter. The experience was intense but vital, and our friendship born from that time in Ireland has been a gift to me every since. If you’ve ever felt like a weirdo or misfit based on where you’re from, go travel. You may discover your people are not necessarily where you grew up, or where your passport states you are “from.” Instead your people may be but tucked away in various places all around the globe waiting for you to find them.
Take care of you.