Do "boring" things when you travel.

August 9th, 2012, 7am

On my trips, whether it was Budapest, Chianti, or Khajuraho, I would look for the hideaways. The idea is to do whatever I normally do at home — scenic walks, picnic with some portable speakers, people watch at a cafe, even grocery shop. Before I learned to do this, traveling and the activities therein were enjoyable but inevitably contained by feelings of obligation. I (and I think many others, still) was concerned with making itineraries, crossing things off a list, going to the attractions, following what trendy things others have done and shown off on Facebook. Some time between backpacking Paris and Rome, I felt unhappy. It felt terrible to be in a bad mood in Europe, and it’s even worse to try to explain that to anyone without sounding like a spoiled, unaware member of the first world.

But when you’re far from home for so long, you see that you can’t possibly satisfy those obligations every day. I, for example, started to want elements of my normal life. It’s unrealistic to be out each day of the week, because real life isn’t like that. Real life has balance, like mixing in work days, nights out, and personal business in the afternoons. Yet, when we travel, we’re conditioned to believe time is short and thus we must treat everyday like a Saturday in college. I realized even if there are that many tourist attractions, bars, and restaurants, I would burn out. So, I started to do the “boring” stuff that I would while home. Since then, I’ve had fewer photos of landmark places while traveling, but more memories of the peaceful experience of traveling. By just sitting at the park with no expectations, or cooking a meal with things I bought at the market, I had a little feeling of what it would be like to live abroad. Achieving the sense of belonging even though you’re in foreign lands, isn’t that the best thing about traveling?

Jeffrey, Pamela, Christine, Shu and 20 others said thanks.

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Donovan Bui

Casual musings on travel and living. See my photos at

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