I love traveling, the thrill of seeing new and unfamiliar places and people is really unbeatable. The downside is that I’ve spent a lot of time cultivating an environment in which I thrive as an engineer (for more info on “the cave” and related issues see: http://randsinrepose.com/archives/2007/11/11/the_nerd_handbook.html) and I can’t bring that environment with me when globe-trotting. I’ll often find myself hating being away from the things I find familiar, annoyed because I can’t control all the variables. When I’m home I’m constantly checking my email, writing code and basically living life through a keyboard and internet connection. When traveling, I often find myself introverting and getting snippy because I’m basically going through withdrawal from my daily routines. Time changes, different cuisine, tea instead of coffee, coffee that’s too weak, coffee that’s too strong, temperature too hot, too cold, etc. I’m definitely getting better, but I’m come up with a few methods that seem to have helped on recent trips.
* Bring technology of some sort with you that serves a useful purpose – On our recent trip to Iceland, I brought my new Nook Color. I loaded it with an offline maps program and a pretty good travel book I bought through Amazon Kindle. It was very useful to have interactive maps we could use in conjunction with our print and digital guidebooks. It also helped my inner nerd feeling in touch with a familiar piece of technology, and in turn, a little more in control of the world around me.
* Recognize your frustration and squash it – I get snippy when I get hungry. My partner knows this, she reminds me to eat a snack and I get more annoyed because someone is telling me what to do. I’ve learned to just let it go, eat a Cliff Bar and enjoy the scenery. It’s not easy, and I don’t profess to have stopped entirely, or to expect that I won’t ever get annoyed, but at least I’m making progress and able to get out of my own head long enough to stop acting like a jerk.
* Slow down and relax (at least for a little while) – My partner and I do whirlwind tours when we travel. This usually means short stays in a ton of different places on a 10 day vacation. When we went to Costa Rica last year, we never stayed in any place more than 2 nights and we were there for 11 days. But even at that pace, we managed to take naps, enjoy the rain forest, the cloud forests, black sand beaches, and quiet nights in a little beach town. The only time I ever felt we were rushing was when we were trying to get to something we were required to schedule. Taking time to walk around, enjoy a city or town in the evening or early morning really takes the anxiety out of being away from my normal environment.
I really enjoy traveling, especially with my girlfriend and can’t wait for our next trip. Hopefully I’ll keep myself from succumbing to low blood sugar and enjoy the good decompression time that comes with being away from work and the internet in general.