The Basic Premise

 

-The basic premise of a Proper Jaunt is: you are gone less than a week. Sometimes it’s exactly seven days. Even for folks who don’t get too much time off, figuring in weekends and such makes it surprisingly possible.  This is also not about camping. This is about trips to cities, cities you don’t live in. 

-You can do an international trip for $1,000 or under. I’m not saying $1,000 isn’t a lot of money. But for most working people, it’s attainable. Most of us can have our jobs put a small amount of money into a savings account. If you have $20 a week put into a savings account that you don’t have access to, in a year you will have over $1,000. First off, $20? C’mon. That’s $4 every working day. You easily spend that on the snack machine or coffee. Even more important, a year is nothing. Think about where you were exactly a year ago. It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year, does it? Imagine thinking that and realizing you now had an extra thousand bucks to go on a trip.  Imagining a trip is way more fun than imagining what the next year of work will bring. And it’s imagining the trip that sustains you so well until the plane takes off.  

Who Gets to Go?

-Initially, I’ll be talking about taking trips alone. This seems to go against everything we think about our Normal Lives. Aren’t we supposed to travel as a family?? Aren’t couples supposed to travel together? 

Well, you can and mostly likely will still do all of those things. But think about it: most family vacations end up being a lot of work. Many couple have jobs and schedules that don’t always mesh for travel together.. Besides, travel alone makes you ache to travel with a loved one, which you usually make as your next trip. Like the song says, how can I miss you if you won’t go away? 

There will be much talk about the serious benefits to traveling alone. If you are someone who thinks you could never-in-a-million-years do it, then you REALLY have to travel alone. 

Also, if you travel alone, that means your partner gets to as well. 

Do One Thing, or Do Nothing

-Perhaps the most important component of The Proper Jaunt: Do One Thing, or Do Nothing.  What does that mean?

We, somehow in our cultural subconscious, feel there are things that we HAVE to see if we go certain places.  If you’re going to Paris, you HAVE to see the Eiffel Tower / Louvre etc. If you go to London you HAVE to see Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. And on and on for every place people want to go to. 

I have something to tell you that might rattle your world a bit. Make sure you’re sitting down:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS. 

You really don’t. Most of the stuff that you “have” to do in those cities are full of tourists who are there to by-God see the dang thing and cross it off some list (never liked the term ‘bucket list’ and I don’t use it).  

You really can go to Paris and not go to the Eiffel Tower. You’ll see it everywhere you go, but you don’t have to stand in line to go into it. 

Same thing with Big Ben in London. Or the London Eye. You can see it from everywhere. 

I want to go to see the Pyramids in Egypt. Everyone tells me it’s a touristy mess. But you can see the Pyramids from pretty much everywhere, once you are there. 

That’s the ‘Do Nothing’ part of my dictum. For me, without a doubt and in every single case, just being in a new place is a better experience than any attraction or landmark.

Doing Nothing means that, in a new city, you will have to get to where you are staying. You will have to figure out how to get coffee, how to find out the weather for the day; which things are open and which things are not. How to feed yourself. If you do not know this from your own personal experience, ask anyone who has traveled, even a little bit: being in a new city is the experience of travel. Having to pull your daily routine out of it’s rut and get what you need a whole new way is the point. It is also what is so fortifying and enriching about travel. 

‘Do One Thing’ actually goes quite well with ‘Do Nothing’. They are two tenets of the same philosophy. An example of just doing one thing on a Proper Jaunt to Paris, is to just go to The Louvre. Or The Musee´Dorsay. They are certainly big enough to spend most of your time in. On your way to these places, you will undoubtedly discover things you wish to eat, shops you wish to visit, side-streets you want to walk down. ‘Do One Thing’ does not mean you ONLY do one thing, and nothing else.  It just means you narrow down the one thing you want to do; you will  see plenty just doing that. You could go to Amsterdam just to visit the Rijksmuseum Van Gogh. There are museums on the same block you will probably find yourself at.  Same thing with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 

It’s not just museums. Do One Thing can also mean Pick An Event. The first time I went to Iceland, I went because I wanted to go to the Icelandic Beer Festival. I didn’t know much about it, but it sounded like a good reason to go to Iceland. 

I’ve gone to Scotland to see music (the Celtic Connections festival). 

The best example (to me) of Do One Thing is when my wife and I went to Paris for our 20th Wedding Anniversary. We had been to Paris no less than four times before, but it had been ten years since our last trip. Our ‘One Thing’ to do in Paris? Be in Paris, with each other. We literally had no other plans. We had a blast finding places to get coffee, to get food. One day we realized we needed a USB cable, and finding one led us on a wonderful adventure in a neighborhood we had never visited. She is a very good photographer, so she took a lot of pictures. I like writing instruments, so I enjoyed looking at and buying paper and pens. We went walking and ended up at Museums, at cafes. We found a local pub we ended up visiting every night. Mostly we just got out into the city, just to be there.  That kind of attitude influenced the whole trip. We missed a bus going back to Paris from Monet’s gardens and home at Giverny, so we were ‘stuck’ there for an extra two hours. Now, if we had some place we had to be that night because there were things we HAD TO DO, we would have been miserable. Can you imagine being miserable in Monet’s garden?? We couldn’t either. 

A concert. A museum. A garden. These are fantastic reasons to travel all by their lonesome. 

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