Jean Croker Petke

An alternate universe

An alternate universe

I am traveling this summer. Some say I travel all the time — and sometimes it’s almost true. May was Hawaii, June is Topsail Beach, North Carolina, and July is Portland, Oregon by way of Lexington, Kentucky.

Traveling for me is like living in an alternate universe. When I’m in a different place, my usual stuff is put on hold and nearly forgotten. I don’t spent daily hours practicing piano, I’m often out of communication with friends, I’m living in another time zone, the weather is different, my daily habits don’t exist, I try new foods, and I sleep on a random schedule.

Travel means I am living outside my comfort zone — that place where things are familiar and somewhat predictable, that place where habits and customs exist without my consciousness.

We have a myriad of reasons for travels:

  • I just need to get away
  • time to get outta Dodge
  • I need warm or cool weather, depending on your local season
  • I’ve never been to . . .
  • the annual visit to the relatives
  • the annual trip to the beach or mountains or lake
  • workshops, camps, or conferences
  • a friend doesn’t want to travel alone, so you’ve been asked to go along

Here a few tips and suggestions from my own travel. Perhaps they will be of benefit to you:

Vacation mode: As you leave town, by any kind of transportation, enter vacation mode. Allow your normal life to fade. Focus your thoughts on destination and arrival and unknowns and surprises. Flip your internal switch from Regular to Vacation.

Eat local: Depending on the level of planning, you may prefer to know where you’re going to lay your head each night, but keep meals open. Look around at meal time to see what’s available and what looks interesting. Local is generally a wise choice.

Expect the unexpected: Again, depending on the level of planning, you may pre-plan or pre-select some experiences or sightseeing. Make sure to keep much of your schedule open. Often, the unplanned things turn out to be the best. You have to leave room for the unexpected.

No extra baggage: Clear your mind of the usual home and family stuff. Refuse to allow anxieties and worries and concerns to hang a cloud over your time away. The only baggage you need to carry contains the necessities for this vacation

Claim the good: Every night ponder the day just experienced, making sure to gather the good and special and unexpected moments, and dismissing the things that could have gone better. No reason to let the not-so-good be the day’s remembrance.

Savor: Savor the experience — whatever it is. No reason to fret when things aren’t exactly to your liking or expectation. If you want everything to be like home, then stay home.


Re-entry: Only when you begin the return trip do you allow yourself to begin the re-entry process, to begin to think of the rest of your life. The time between vacation and home is there for your soul to gradually shift gears.

Enjoy your travels — whether it’s a staycation in your city, a destination a few miles down the road, or an excursion to another part of the globe.

Until next Tuesday . . .



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