At Home, Away

There’s something that happens on vacation… On the third day, it’s like a long weekend. No Monday blues. On the fourth day, it’s officially holiday, and you’ve broken the corporate mold. You’re in freefall, it can be unnerving to detach from the job you see as life support.

I have a theory about wilderness travel, and that is that it takes five days to acclimatize. It’s a shame if an outdoor expedition lasts only five days (or even seven), because that’s when it all “clicks.” There’s a distinct moment when you’ve completely adjusted to sleeping in a tent, waking at dawn, cooking on a portable stove. You wake with verve and anticipation rather than achiness or dread. You feel at home away.

I think my five-day theory holds true for almost any vacation. Adapting to an unfamiliar foreign country is a bigger stretch (which to me is what makes travel abroad more fulfilling than domestic travel), but it could also take five days to click into relaxed comfort in Florida.

Some people get all twitchy and crave the Internet. Some people feel the urge to call their parents or boast with a pic of the beach on Facebook.

If anything, I’m likely to show a close-up of a withered bicycle seat; a leathery local smoking a cigar; or an organized work party, or minga.

Withered bicycle seat. Havana, Cuba

Leathery local smoking a cigar while sidecar zips by. Havana, Cuba

A painter hanging outside the window of a casa particular. Havana, Cuba

How long does it take you to acclimatize to a new place? Is it a pleasure, or a pain in the ass? What was the most uncomfortable place you found yourself in, and how did you adapt?

About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
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5 Responses to At Home, Away

  1. becca says:

    That reminds me of my two months in Israel…the first two weeks were my initial adjustment period. I met a lot of people wary of me being an American, plus my stomach started doing weird things from the stress of the travel (having to hitchike in a strange land with a giant duffel bag that weighed as much as me) and everything being different. I will say, after my stay was over, I was stronger and healthier than I have ever been in my entire life.

    • You are still that strong and healthy person who returned from that trip. Travel leaves us better, stronger, more expanded than we were before, and there’s no erasing that. It’s nice to revive that after it’s been dormant a while, too.

  2. Yes, it takes me a few days to adjust. By the time I finished spending 3 weeks in Hawaii, it felt like that was my real life. So sad to leave. Toughest adjustment for me was going to Shanghai. After being in Hong Kong which was English-friendly, it was tough to be completely immersed in Chinese. Thank goodness a colleague was able to escort us!

    • Thank you for sharing. It goes to show that we integrate our experiences abroad and encounters with other cultures on a deep level. These are our most unforgettable moments, I think, *because* we went out of our comfort zones. Good for you! Keep the travel stories coming. I love them.

  3. Pingback: It’s Hard Not to Eat the Cake « Mommy Theorist

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