People are talking about their trips almost way after they had been to their destinations. Some social media verves may post photos before their arrival, and some would even claim ‘touchdown’ plus the place when they arrive. It becomes funny if their mode of transportation doesn’t involve something that flies and has the need to literally touch the ground down. Anyway, what I want to say is that every telltale of trips just includes technical details of them being there (often, just the need to brad and shove it on social media). But no one has ever thought of what they undergo before and during their trips.
Basically, there are seven stages of traveling. And each and every one of us travelers is always experiencing these things whether the place is a thousand miles away, or just a few kilometers away.
1. The Learning
Of course you won’t and can’t just be there in an instant. It would look as if you were in a coma and the moment you wake up you just be like “Where am I?” Well, I hope things are like that, though. You don’t have to worry about organizing the trip or your strategy of going there. But then, life is no fairy tale wherein you undergo a car accident and the nearest hospital is in Boracay, right? Excruciating planning is part of the deal and how do you deal with it? You first learn about the goddamn paradise.
Whether you heard it from your obnoxious bragging rich classmate, in frustrating TV features or you read about it — it is certain that you didn’t have innate knowledge about it. So you’ll have to learn it from something or someone. And there goes jealousy creeping through your veins and questions such as “why am I not there?” or “what does it feel like being there?” Even though you’re happy about your best friend being there, admit it fella, you’re more than desirous and willing to offer your entire clan just to experience what the place has to offer. I’ve felt that thousands of times — sometimes with my sister whose job requires her to be in different parts of the country.
2. Testing the waters through research
You’ve learned about the place, alright. You might have instantly said yes at random invitations from friends — but most times you’re just like “Wow, it sounds nice! But what’s in there? Let me google it first.” Some of us might even question the place but when no one’s around, you’ll google it like crazy. Pretentious bastard. But no one can blame me — I mean, them! — because of course you’ll have qualms about it at first. It’s frustrating to waste time on something you won’t appreciate in the long run. So you have to first research about the place. And then when it catches your interest, you’ll try to experience it with a few clicks through photos and travel blogs or articles — testing the waters. Did it make you more eager to test it physically? Onto the next stage!
3. Planning, planning, more planning
Whether it’s a complete organized itinerary, or just a let’s-do-this-right-now-but-a-few-things-first-oh-wait-I’ll-just-go-get-some-clothes kinds of moments — those are still plans. No matter how spur-of-the-moment you think your trips are, a little bit of planning still took part in making them possible.
In my case, I’m the over-acting exaggerated obsessive OCD (obsessive is another thing from OCD, and I’m both) travel planner and itinerary organizer. Every person who had been to trips with me can attest to that—I am the one who’s always organizing trips from the moment we hop on the transpo to accommodations, as well as expenses down to the last cent. I can’t resist this feeling of organizing. Even in things that don’t involve travels, like cleanliness of my room or budgeting, I’m always organized. Anyway, itinerary and budget organizing is very essential when traveling, especially if you’re a poor packer like me. You need to book affordable inns (hotels if you’re like god of money) or take note of restaurants and eateries you will be going to, as well as the amenity fees you need (boat hopping, diving, snorkeling, camping, entrance fees, etc). If you think you’re “impulsive” enough to not take note of all these — I’ll give you my contact number in advance and just dial it the moment you’re whining because you don’t know what to do next, or you’re lost, or you’re short of money. I’ll be on the other end tirelessly saying “I told you so” and then hang up.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not spontaneous either. I’ve been to a few trips wherein the first stages came upon me in just a matter of days or even hours. But even then, planning has always been present, even for only a matter of minutes. I’m all: “How do you go to that place?” Then, “how much is the transpo going there?” Then, “are there eateries there or we buy our food?” Then, “are there inns there and how much? Then, “how much are the amenity fees?” Then I go — Okay, withdraw certain amount, bring a few clothes. Let’s go.
Planning is inevitable, guys.
4. The journey
“You know how something’s gonna end but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride.” – Ted Mosby
My favorite part — the long hour bus rides, the scary boat rides, unsafe habal-habals, etc. All of them are like 45% maker of your ventures. Sometimes, you get to see much more places if you pay attention to the rides you’re having. There are places wherein the journey of getting there is more enjoyable than actually being there. So, appreciate the hassle travel period and it will surely be worth it.
5. The arrival
The moment you set your foot in the place — WOW. Every time I arrive at my destination, I don’t say “touch-down” on Facebook and Twitter. Instead, I’ll close my eyes for a couple of seconds, take a deep breath then shout “I’m in (place)!” The most stimulating feeling a traveler can experience is seeing the place for the first time (it can also apply if you’ve been to the place before) because it’s like being reborn and being adventurous at the same time. There’s a little sense of pride among all of us that gives us the feeling of “Wow, I managed to get here. To actually get here.” Especially if you’re traveling without your family or any elder supervision—backpackers would know this. This is also why I am fond of traveling alone or with my friends rather than with family, who usually pays for everything. The former gives you extra excitement and satisfaction. It’s sort of setting your flag of independence in that certain place.
6. Savoring the place
Ultimate beach bumming, mountain climbing, surfing, spelunking, trekking, sight-seeing, pasalubong buying, etc. Who would not enjoy them right? This is the core of your trip — why you went there in the first place. This is the most evident stage ever, and our Instagram accounts are the living testament of how much focused we are in this stage. So, need I say more?
7. The goodbye
This stage is unavoidable. Your last day — or last hours if it’s a day travel — is the saddest moment of your trip. You try to cling on to it as hard as you can to the extent that you go for side trips or buy more pasalubongs just to relish the place one last time. But when it’s time to go — you have no other choice but to compulsively bring your body out of there. Sometimes it’s too depressing — the feeling of going back to reality, which is full of crap most times. And sometimes there’s a feeling of relief — one that says, “I’m done here thank God I made it alive.” Or other times there’s the “I’ll definitely come back” feeling or the simply happy feeling — knowing that even for just a short time, you had experienced the place.
And okay, 7.5: the hangover stage — that can’t-get-over feeling that materializes in two ways: first, you write or post about it innocently and purely (applies to backpackers), and second, through constant statuses about how you miss the place, or #tbt photos with captions saying you’d definitely go back (applies to vacationers)—even if more often than not, you really wouldn’t.