As soon as I realized I’d have 24 hours to myself in an unfamiliar town, I didn’t think much of it. “I’ll just hang out for a bit, walk around and shoot.”
So far, it’s 6:30pm here and all I’ve done since 7:30 am since I’ve arrived at my hostel is order an over-priced cup of coffee and nap. My entire being feels uneasy, just sitting to do work and not being able to walk around. I keep looking out of the window from the hostel lobby and can see buildings from the airport mixed in with the bleak landscape that usually surrounds such places. Due to the overnight flights and time changes, my travel companion and I got our dates mixed up. So here I am for 24 hours, alone.
But I think the strangest thing is knowing I’m sitting here, emailing and sending out images as I would in any café in New York.
I feel guilty.
I’m getting the things I need to do done, but I’m not out exploring!
Hopping on the bus to the city and seeing everything!
Trying to make conversation with other travelers to explore with or share stories!
Even simply wandering around until I find a grocery store for dinner essentials, why am I not up doing that!
I’m currently fighting the urge to get up because aside from the Irish bus drivers behind me enjoying one last beer before they head back home, I’m the only person in this lobby and I can’t shake the feeling of it somehow feeling wrong.
People are out exploring, not wasting a moment of the fresh air in Iceland. It feels as if everyone in this hostel is in favor of six-hour tours and seeking out everything this beautiful country has to offer as soon as the wheels of their planes touched the pavement. I have an entire accidental extra day in a place, yet I’ve spent it most of it by napping and being in front of the computer.
As I find myself getting more and more down on myself, I realize how unproductive and unkind those thoughts really are.
I’m beating myself up over taking some time to adjust. I took a much-needed nap, but it was an extremely restless one all because I was afraid of somehow missing out on something. Despite feeling as if I’m not using my travel days in Iceland in the “right” way, I realized today was about finding balance.
What is right for one traveler is so very wrong to another.
Some can put everything aside and hit the ground running. Most people here seem to rise up early in the morning and stay out until dark, the way my parents did growing up. Maybe those people get their emailing done on the fly. Or decided to put in time late in the evening to take those calls. Maybe these travelers can run off of 3-4 hours a sleep each night and don’t need naps or time to “recharge.” Especially in a place like Iceland where the martian landscape and thrill of adventure can do that for them.
But this, I learned, is not me.
I’ve realized that travel, especially solo travel (albeit I’ll technically only be a solo traveler for 24 hours) is all about learning how you operate, finding balance between life at home and life right in front of you. Sleeping for a few hours was essential to my survival; I know I’ll need to be on that 6:40 am bus tomorrow morning to the airport to pick up the rental car and travel partner. I wouldn’t have been happy if I just threw all of my stuff into my dorm and wandered around Iceland in the rain.
Miserable and wet.
I knew I had clients waiting on a response, yet all I wanted to do was sleep.
But by just sitting here, I’ve been able to fill my ears with the many accents of the world as rain-drenched travelers check in for the day.
Drinking my over-priced coffee, I’ve been able to send out more emails in an hour than I probably would have done sporadically the entire trip because I have yet to master that on-the-fly workspace mentality. I needed that time to start to adjust my body, physically and mentally, to my new surroundings. And for the first time since I moved to Brooklyn in June, I am finally finding balance in my life to write about something I love wholeheartedly.
Have you ever struggled with finding balance between life at home and life in the present while traveling? Do you set aside specific times to work, or just do it on the fly? How very real is FOMO (fear of missing out) when you try to catch up on sleep?
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