25 June 2011

The Vacation Mindset

I recently realized that in order to have a superb vacation, one must have the mindset that is ready for it. I actually realized it yesterday, in the middle of a vacation.

So right now, I am in Roxas City, Capiz. I am flying back to Manila tomorrow, after a week on the road. I originally planned for a two-week trip, a backpacking trip in the Visayas for two weeks, or until I feel sick of it. I guess feeling sick of it turned up first, and so I am heading back home.

So, given that I usually am excited traveling and being on the road, what actually comprised to arrive at this decision?

Well, there are several negative factors, really. First, there's the early rainy season. Even when I was in Iloilo and Guimaras, I was traveling with an umbrella. I'd be racing against the rain clouds, going out of my accommodations before the dark rain clouds start. I crossed the Iloilo Strait into Guimaras and the sun was shining, except that there were rain clouds on the horizon. When I got into Guimaras, the rains fell and I got drenched, relatively. It did make for some dramatic shots of time-ravaged ruins, however.

Second, there's the nagging feeling at the back of my head that I have work to do. I know that once I get back to Manila, I can turn on my computer and work on several things. There's the talk I am giving in August, and I have to make a slide show presentation for that. There's also a paper I am writing with my adviser (this paper also serves as one chapter for my dissertation), and my adviser already sent me his comments after seeing the first draft. There's also an IRB protocol I should be revising, as this will allow me and a new collaborator to start recruiting participants for a new experiment we will be running in the Fall. There's also the fact that I should renew my ethics training, as it will expire this month. There's also my dissertation, as even if I am not in Buffalo, I can go ahead and write the first few chapters of it.

So I am here, at an Internet cafe, writing this, killing time before I fly back to Manila tomorrow morning. I am thinking of the week I spent in Mexico City, when on the flight back, I wondered what it would be like not to return, what it would be like to be on a bus to Guatemala, instead of a plane to Buffalo. That was one awesome vacation and I really needed it, as it gave me a well-needed brain break.

On the other hand, here I am, planning a two-week trip, and yet I am longing to go back.

I guess there's just too many things going on in my head, too many things that aren't that easy to dismiss. So instead of enjoying the trip, I am actually hating it.

Don't get me wrong, I like traveling. I have enjoyed myself so far. I liked the fact that I increased my province count, I have eaten some quite awesome seafood, I have seen time-ravaged churches that even UNESCO has deemed to be worth a title of World Heritage Site, my camera has seen them and I loved capturing them. And yet at the same time, I think that every day I spend here, I am actually procrastinating and delaying my graduation, one day at a time.

Perhaps it is the set-up. When I did Mexico last January, I was so busy before I left, that being on the road actually was a relief. Here on the other hand, this is more of a vacation within a vacation: it's a trip within a trip. I have been in the Philippines since a couple of weeks ago, and will be there for another two weeks, until I fly back to Buffalo and resume normalcy. Thus, there's no burn-out potential when it comes to the normal routine. Instead, there's the burn-out potential on the road, and that is exactly what is happening.

So, I am flying back to Manila tomorrow. And this will make me feel less guilty. As much as I have enjoyed myself while on the road on my own, I have work to do. It sucks, but at the same time, I don't think I can stand being on the road and not enjoying it. I am picking the lesser evil.

And yes, I know this is so vain a post, with me ranting about being bored while traveling, when I myself have seen people who are less fortunate than me, with no luxury to travel at all, with no time to worry about superficial things like this one. Which is why I'd go home and put my time to better use, something that will propel me towards a lifestyle upgrade.

This brings to mind this perennial issue with my head, that I seem to dig deadlines and academic pressure. I remember being bored whenever it was a school vacation, and I am stuck at home with nothing to do. Perhaps I just dig the external pressure. But that's for another post. In the meantime, I have a backpack to pack.

(Rock-Shaped Corridors, from my Ollantaytambo Series)


  1. It really takes a special person to travel the way you do. I admire your adventurous spirit and your open-mindedness which I wish I have. Just enjoy the moment. I'm sure you can take care of the deadlines - you always have, haven't you? :)

  2. It's totally the mindset, I perfectly understand. Disconnecting from the real life takes time. There is no way I can ever take a one-week holiday and feel relaxed, it takes me more time to ease into a traveling mindset.

  3. Toe,

    I've always taken care of deadlines, and yet sometimes I feel guilty when I am indulging and traveling and yet there's something I need to do.

  4. Zhu,

    Oh it does. One has to be in the mood to disconnect from real life. I am sure you know more about this than me, as you take longer vacations than I do.