Listening to: Otto Knows vs. Coldplay vs. One Republic – Million Voices (Thomas Gold mashup)
I think one of the greatest differences between my mom and myself is that we have completely different approaches to vacationing. She loves, or maybe doesn’t love but can’t help, to spend hours and hours trying to research and will book everything months in advance. For international trips, she’ll bring down the suitcase about a week early and start filling it, constantly rechecking things she already knows she has packed. She’ll spend the hour before leaving panicking about whether she did this or that, and then she’ll continue to panic all the way up to the airport.
Maybe I started out like that back in the day. But somewhere along the way, I think I either went on too many vacations or had too many near misses that didn’t end in catastrophe, to the point that now I barely prepare anything and I’m constantly finding myself, five hours before a flight, trying to yelp places and draw little maps on scraps of paper, doing my laundry as my duffel bag sits empty with a stack of barely enough clothes folded off to the side.
So far, I feel like my vacations have worked out.
This seems to be the typical vacationing pattern I have fallen into:
Months in advance: Have destination in mind. I’ll think to myself, “THIS TIME. This time I am going to plan far in advance and not have to worry about anything last minute! This time I won’t stress about not planning for months on end. This time I will be better.”
Preceding months: Every morning I will think to myself “OK TODAY IS THE DAY. I am going to go to a cafe and RESEARCH. I am going to make a list of all the places I want to visit and see and experience!” Then I will go about my day and find better, more important things to do. Such as, reading the entire series of Animorphs. Eating dinner with friends. Going to the gym. Wasting time on the internet. I’ll go to the library and check out guidebooks on the destination, which are left untouched on the floor of my room for weeks. I occasionally stuff it in my backpack in the morning, with the intent of going through it after work. After a few days I’ll dump it out of my backpack, as it’s starting to weigh me down unnecessarily. Two weeks later, I’ll renew the unread book. Another two weeks later, I’ll renew it again.
One month in advance: Every morning, my initial thought will transition into “OMFG Today HAS to be the day. I CANNOT continue to let this vacation go unplanned. I NEED TO BUY MY TICKETS. And book my hotel / reserve airbnb / send requests out to CS hosts! I don’t even care what I do today, I am NOT going to bed until I PLAN SOMETHING.” And then. I will stay awake super late into the night, but more because I’m delaying planning until I just can’t take it anymore and fall asleep.
Three weeks in advance: I’ll buy the plane ticket. By this time I have long ago returned the guidebook I had borrowed from the library. Now I have to reborrow the book.
Or I’ll cancel my vacation plans, if the prices have significantly risen and I am too cheap to buy the ticket because I can remember how cheap they were months ago. In these cases I’ll think to myself, NEVER AGAIN.
Two weeks in advance: I’ll start waking up every morning with a panic attack. Sometimes I feel like I never truly fall asleep because I spend the whole night half awake thinking about the things I haven’t done yet. Somehow, this constant sense of urgency does not actually inspire me to do anything about my stress problems.
One week in advance: I’ll half heartedly start to yelp things for ten minutes before I decide the world is too overwhelmingly large to narrow down. I’ll send out CS requests or look into other housing situations. At least I’ll do that much
Three days in advance: I’ll actually start researching. I think to myself, this wasn’t so bad. I should have probably done this a while ago, so I could have gotten a better night’s sleep for the past two weeks
One day in advance: I’ll REALLY start to research.
Twelve hours in advance: Instead of packing or getting the final touches to vacationing ready, I decide it’s suddenly very imperative that I clean my room top to bottom, so that when I return it will be to a nice, clean room
Eight hours in advance: I decide to go to the kitchen and clear out all the food that has been going bad in the fridge. I think to myself, I need to stop buying so many groceries that I never eat. Either that, or stop eating out so I will actually eat the groceries I buy.
Seven hours in advance: Since most of my vacations involve me, walking alone somewhere or taking some form of transportation in solitude, I decide more important than packing, or researching, or finalizing any plans, is to ensure that my ipod has the best music possible. This entails a two hour search for new music, downloading of all the songs I have been listening to, and clearing out and reorganizing my itunes. All the while, despite a muffled nagging voice that says you REALLY need to do some more productive things, my mind will respond “this is crucial to my vacation happiness. Music is the most important thing!!! If I end up walking around aimlessly in a city, lost, at least I’ll have my precious music!”
Five hours in advance: I’ll realize that I don’t have enough clothes to pack. I decide to do laundry. Perfect. Now I have more reason to stay up and continue my research into the wee hours of the morning.
Four hours, fifty minutes in advance: Screw research. I’ve decided to blog
Four hours in advance: I manage to stay awake long enough to put my clothes into the dryer. Rather than research, I decide this is the perfect time to take a nap
Three hours in advance: Frantic packing.
Two hours in advance: I decide that I have quite a bit of time before I have to get to the airport and everything is going to work out just fine
Ninety minutes in advance: I am on my way to the airport and I keep thinking every red light will be the reason I miss my flight. WHY did I wait so long to get to the airport?!?! NEVER AGAIN!!!
One hour in advance: Depending on the airport, at LAX I am only more convinced that I am going to miss my flight. At SJC I rush into the airport and then realize … oh … there’s like five people in the security line. I amble about. Sit in the boarding area. Decide that next time, I am going to have to leave for the airport even later.
As you can guess, I am at the blogging stage of this cycle. Which means my unplanned nap should be coming up soon. Clothes are in the dryer, check.