I was talking with a nervous client who was minded to cancel her trip. If you work in the travel business you’ll know that cancellations are not good. They equate to lost earnings, angry suppliers and the client’s exponentially growing disappointment as invariably they forfeit an unhealthy financial deposit. It’s a lose-lose situation.
I decided therefore to try a new approach and to find out if I could convince her to carry on with the trip. This was not to be a sales ‘pitch’, in fact I’ve not used any selling techniques in years because the last thing you want as a professional is to be accused of having persuaded somebody to do something or go someplace they don’t want. People turn on you and blame you and make you feel like a criminal.
I’d rather do no business at all than earn a commission and get yelled at for my troubles.
Anyhow, I digress. This was not a ‘cowboy client’ but a woman with regular pre-travel worries that stemmed from the fact she had arranged a holiday for her party rather than work out the purpose of the trip ( Yes, even a holiday needs a purpose).
What follows is a synthesis of my findings from listening to her. You’ll recognise some of your own angst in this list.
SLUMBER or STRETCH
The first thing when contemplating a journey is to decide if the trip is to provide rest and to recharge your batteries or whether it’s to explore and discover. I suppose it comes down to the age-old TOURIST Vs TRAVELLER debate. I confess that I have been known to rather snobbishly curse the tourists among us mainly because I see myself as a traveller but when I analysed my own travel patterns, I realised I was not as intrepid or as adventurous as I liked to believe. The reality of course is that most of us seek a combination of rest and stimulation. Except people that go on cruises, they just want to eat yet pretend to themselves the calories consumed are necessary to give them the energy to run round Civitavecchia or Oporto before they miss the boat. Literally.
Once the main reason is known, you can build a travel plan. Below, I include two approaches, but you’re welcome to mix/match, pick and choose. It’s not definitive.
THE SLUMBERER’S APPROACH.
Aim; to rest and relax.
1. Select a ‘solid’ base to vacation in. You’re not minded to travel outside the gardens / grounds / compound and will need to know that everything is on site. For example, if you want to lie by the pool you need to know about the availability and costs of sun loungers, towels, shade, bars, bar staff and so on. Basically, can you vegetate with ease?
2. Close off all temptations and external influences. Perhaps Sharm El Sheikh or Dubai will suffice because beyond ‘your’ resort is desert. Then more desert. Some sand. A camel train (although that could be quite interesting hmmm…) and more sand. I know that there are some great activities to be done in the wadis and on the dunes, but stick with it; I have a point to prove.
Fantastic photo from: http://looklex.com/libya/wadi_methkandoush.htm
3. Ensure a routine can be easily established. I know this is bit like being in a hospital, but if you can find a place where meal times are narrow and the distance from your room to the restaurant/bar is short, you’ll soon become a happy tanned zombie.
4. After 25 hours you’ll feel at home. You won’t be mentally or physically challenged and provided you can hide from other guests you’ll be well set-up to chill out. Even in the heat.
Classy Cruiser photo: http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=31028&start=200
Aim: the feed the mind, the soul and ailing body
1. Select a ‘loose’ base to vacation in. You’ll want to travel outside the immediate location and will need to know what can be reached on foot with ease. If you want to explore ancient archaeological sites you need to know opening times, transport options and the downside of getting it wrong. Could you end up stranded? If so, will this be an adventure or an obstacle? If it’s an obstacle – think again. Perhaps you need to be on a cruise ship after all.
2. If you location is ‘loose’, you’ll need to be solid and emotionally self-sufficient within yourself. We’re not talking Bear Grills here, but I once got lost in the amphitheatre of Pompeii in August. I was a tour guide having lost 52 passengers and had ripped a knee cartilage running around in 35 degrees. I cried. I am not Bear Grills and I now watch adventurous stuff on YouTube.
3. Enjoy the moment. I know very little about mindfulness and the awe of nature has only hit me once. It was in the American Rockies. Jet lagged, I fought off the fatigue by skiing. I went up the mountains at Copper Mountain, fumbled off the chair lift and was positively amazed at the panorama. But that was it, first and last time I could say ‘awesome’. In fact I didn’t say ‘awesome’ because in the 20th century nobody did.
Interested in more? See Walk and Talk below;
4. Hold the thought and use it more often. I have stayed in my travel comfort zone for many years. I know though that if you push and nudge just a little, the spirit of adventure can grab you and colour in the smallest of experiences. I know it, but I don’t do it, but I’m a writer and have licence to pretend on paper.
TALK & WALK a snippet borrowed from my own past:
AS you walk across the park take a moment and stop a while. Look at a nearby curled leaf, either on a plant or on the ground. This is a time to simply contemplate on that leaf and nothing else. My inclination is to look at the leaf and compare it to my own life,to think of its journey from uncurling damp green birth to powdery death via a series of dehydrations and crumblings.
The aim, and god knows I too find it hard, is to forget the metaphors and comparisons and to get into the moment for its own sake. By walking places you get the chance to touch it all.