Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Voluntary vs. Obligatory Travel

When we speak of travel, we often refer to what I'd like to call voluntary travel. This is the type of romanticized travel that we see on TV and in movies. People going someplace exotic and new in order to relax and de-stress from everyday life. Voluntary travel doesn't always go exactly as planned, but it doesn't have to; that's the beauty of it. If we go with the flow on this type of trip, we can still have a good time, and we may discover something unexpected and quite pleasant.

On the other end of the travel spectrum you have obligatory travel where you have some sort of obligation to fulfill. For me, this tends to be a business trip where I have several objectives that I have to accomplish. There are schedules to stick to (hopefully) and expectations to meet. All of this can be very stressful.

Obligatory travel is not necessarily confined to business travel, it can be for a familial obligation such as attending a wedding or a funeral. The main thing about obligatory travel is that it is based around some central event that you have to attend and your time is not completely your own. Often, the events that are the center of obligatory travel are inflexible so you have to plan accordingly and be at their disposal.

Over the past 5 years, I've become fairly competent in the area of obligatory travel, but I fear that my skills in voluntary travel are starting to become dull. The last time I engaged in this type of travel was about a year and a half ago on my honeymoon. In the time since that trip, I've been on roughly 16 obligatory trips. With that kind of ratio, it's no wonder I am a little stressed about an upcoming voluntary trip to the Boston area this month.

Do I still remember how to relax in an unfamiliar environment? I hope so. Will the complete lack of a schedule cause me to revert to a state where I lock myself in my hotel room and read? I hope not. Will I obsess with research about the area, making myself an unreasonable schedule so that I can't possibly enjoy the trip? I really hope not.

Only time will tell with respect to these questions, but I hope that I'll able to adjust to the world of voluntary travel without too much difficulty.

Have you been stuck in the world of obligatory travel? Do you find the shift from obligatory to voluntary travel as difficult as I do? Do you have any tips for me in my struggle? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

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