• Thu, Jan 10 2013

Bullish: How to Have a Staidcation (for Staid People, Get It?)

staidcation

Jennifer Dziura writes career and life advice weekly on TheGloss. Here is an archive, and here is an archive of Bullish columns from our sister site TheGrindstone.

People who say they love travel mean some really different things.

I have been on some adventures! I have been to Argentina, Mexico, Sweden, Belgium, Scotland, and India alone, and I have toured the Middle East, entertaining the troops as a standup comedian.

Or maybe you do not think these are adventures, considering how much of these trips was spent finding the best cappuccino in town and shopping for blazers (see Bullish: How to Travel Like a Gentlewoman). Maybe it’s only an adventure if you hike through a swamp for six days to end up taking hallucinogenics with a remote society of indigenous people. Usually when I read about privileged people’s such “adventures,” I think, “Wow, I really hope those indigenous people fucked with you real good.” (We can’t count! Explain it to us again, hilarious white man!)

But an adventure is not a vacation. After an adventure, you sometimes need a vacation. Also, as an introvert, I want to spend at least five hours a day alone, every day (reading in a cafe counts). And I want to come back a better, healthier, smarter, more clear-headed person than I was when I left. I can’t do that if I’m constantly sightseeing, with friends, taking extreme sports lessons, being led up a mountain by a sherpa, or god forbid, on a guided tour.

I went to India and didn’t see the Taj Mahal. It’s full of tourists, it’s an hours-long train ride away from anything, and I don’t find it enjoyable to 1) be thought of as a tourist, and 2) constantly have to fend off the aggressive advances of vendors.

When you travel alone, look somewhat professional, and have a couple of books with you, people are much less likely to read you as a tourist. While a dirty-haired American couple with giant backpacks is immediately read in this way, local people in Belgium, India and elsewhere have asked if I’m “in town for work.” Sometimes they ask, “Teacher?” People always try to tell you it’s so dangerous to be a woman alone, and sometimes it is, but I think the backpacking couple blundering through town taking pictures is much more likely to be robbed than the itinerant teacher.

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  • Lastango

    Much of what you say here might be foreign or even repellant to an extrovert, but the introvert is always somewhat alone, and remote. They carry their own space with them, and are at home wherever they unpack it.

    (BTW, the links are not linking…)

  • jamiepeck

    I hate the idea of working on vacation. That said, I worked from Berlin this past summer because I wanted to experience what it was like to live somewhere else for a month, and it was pretty fun. I also write about pretty much every trip I take, so I guess that counts.