Vacations are meant to be relaxing, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come with take-aways and life lessons. Sometimes (who are we kidding, often), downtime is when you have your best realizations about yourself, your life, and the world. Other times, vacations simply teach you how to travel. Here are 17 things traveling has taught me over the last year:
- Don’t arrive in a location before booking accommodations. Not because it means you won’t have a place to stay (well, not necessarily), but because it’s stressful. In particular, don’t do this when said
location is in the middle of nowhere. Like, Tofino.
- When you are going to pack something ‘just in case’, you probably shouldn’t pack it. I mean, did I really need to bring that skirt that I rarely wear at home either?
- I have zero upper arm strength, and am probably the weakest person you know. I was fairly aware of this before vacation, but attempting to learn to surf made it readily, readily apparent. Alberta update: Those quad muscles that help when climbing a mountain don’t exist much either.
- Check the weather. Definitely do this before you leave, as it should inform your packing. I basically bought a whole fall wardrobe (including hat, mitts, sweater, and leggings) while I was in B.C, because my suitcase was full of windbreakers and t-shirts, and I was cold.
- In late October, basically everything in Whistler shuts down. Apparently, everyone goes to Banff instead (at least according to the lack of AirBnB options…).
- The hardest things are sometimes the most worthwhile.
Yes, there are some serious life lessons thrown in here. But the feeling that you get when you arrive at the top of a mountain after an hour (or more) of “I can’t do this. I’m going to die. Why did I do this?” is one of the best feelings in the world.
- Mountains have snow and ice at the top, and snow and ice can be slippery. They invented hiking boots for a reason.
- I am deathly afraid of sliding off the side of a mountain. This is no joke. I wish I had been wearing a heart rate monitor so I could prove it to you, and I’m not sure I have any adrenaline left in my body.
- Getting lost is sometimes the best thing you could do.
The best part of hiking is the exploring and adventuring, and not knowing what you’re going to find. I don’t recommend getting lost to the extent that you can’t be found again, but wandering through the woods without knowing what you’re going to find (and then finding waterfalls and amazing mountain views) is a great and rewarding way of letting go.
- Strangers are friendly. When I went to Boston for the World Figure Skating Championships, I met all kinds of people who were my seatmates, including a Chinese student studying at MIT who took up figure skating upon arriving in Canada, and a Russian-Canadian family who were very enthusiastic about Evgenia Medvedeva. In B.C., I made friends with the strangers at the top of a lookout, and in Alberta I made a new Australian friend. People are fascinating, and often happy to chat, especially if they are travelling alone!
- Every town in the world should have harbour ferries and taxis. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to travel via the cutest mode of transportation ever?
- Rain won’t kill you, and doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay inside. My two hands aren’t enough to count the times I went running, hiking, biking, walking, or just outside in the rain while I was in B.C. Along those lines, the cold won’t kill you either (as long as you dress in layers!).
- Fill about half your suitcase when you’re leaving, so that you can fill the other half with all of the things you bought while you were away.
- Always have an abundance of change. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many chocolate bars and bags of chips I bought just so that I could end up with bus fare. On that note, if anyone wants a Vancouver bus ticket, I’ve got you covered.
- I love mountains. Mountain air
and the mountain cold are also highly rated. Every west coast vacation reminds me of this love. Why don’t I live here yet?
- The University of Victoria has the best university bookstore. Not only is it beautiful and stocked with merchandise someone might actually want to wear, but it basically has a mini-Chapters inside. Assessing university bookstores has now become an area of interest for me. Mount Royal University did not measure up.
- Having to go out every day actually feels pretty good. If I’ve spent money to be in a different place, I’m not going to spend my day in my hotel/AirBnb. Vacation forces you to make some sort of plan every day, and go on some sort of adventure, even if it’s a short one. It’s kind of a great way to live.
Featured image by Nicole Crozier