As I sit here typing this post after 50 minutes of brainstorming and procrastination in a deceivingly modern cafe in Rishikesh, India, I’m reflecting on how my travels have changed over the past 5 years of travel blogging. This city is one of Hinduism’s holiest places and considered the apex of yoga worldwide. The Ganges River flows less than 2 kilometers behind me and I must neglect it for the day, as I take advantage of electricity and bandwidth to write a post overdue for last Friday.
Later on in the afternoon I’ll be rejoining Wandering Earl and the rest of his Welcome To India Tour, which I’ve been helping out on and enjoying myself. It’s my fourth time in India, second in Rishikesh, yet each travel experience remains unique. Aside from the colorful honks and lethargic cows, refreshingly reminiscent of my previous visits, this time I’ve come to see my reflection from fresh eyes.
Shaken, Not Stirred
I suppose the term ‘balance’ is a bit misleading, as I’ve combined working and traveling into one entity. Rather than the usual dichotomy of vacation and office, I’ve merged two of my healthier addictions so they’re essentially binary forms of the same drug. It is when I’m with other travelers – who are taking time away from a day job – that I begin to realize how my personal pattern of movement differs from theirs. My schedule has to include regular week and months-long stops to account for writing, editing photos, responding to 300+ emails daily, managing finances – in short, running a business whose manager is always on the run.
On my short list of things to plan around is Internet access, which I’m rarely without for more than 24 hours. Every hostel search, airport layover, and mountain trekking adventure has me looking for ways to get online in step one, two, or three, of the planning process. Elaborately preparing in advance if I need to be offline for more than a day or so. Typically my busiest days of the week are Sunday through Thursday (or Wednesday if I’m bizarrely efficient) giving me more digital flexibility on the other days of the week.
Every scene is a photo opportunity that may not come again, so I take as many as possible from angles wide and narrow – of those I take, only 10% will ever make it beyond my recycle bin. A snap or 15 of every dish that sits in front of me is standard before I eat, including a few notes in my iPhone for a restaurant review that will appear on this site eventually. (Though when I’m particularly hungry this happens.) Details fade fast in a memory that’s full of journeys and was never really much good to begin with. Moments that go undocumented can easily be lost to time so I have to take some extra time in each moment to leave a temporal trail for my practically useless hippocampus.
A Complicated Recipe
These gears turn inside of a delicate machine, whose impulsive conductor tweaks on the fly too often by cutting out luxuries he could once take for granted. In a crunch between my personal essentials – sleep, exercise, the occasional shower – messages to family and friends are usually the last to go out. The balance I need to strike isn’t just between work and travel but with life’s many facets as well – where the outcome of the equation has no definite answers.
If I’m going to decline an invitation for a night out in Sarajevo, extra cup of coffee in Quito, or spontaneous trip to Copenhagen, it’s because of a devoted discipline to my digital companion and ultimately all of you reading, who allow me to continue traveling indefinitely. It’s never been a lack of desire, which hasn’t faded at all over the years of this journey.