Conflicting Desires

Despite my excitement at my upcoming trip to the Caribbean, and my enthusiasm for planning for next year’s trip to Europe, I feel conflicted.

My husband works a lot, and he works hard. He has two jobs (one full time, one part time, both physically demanding), and the schedule he keeps is just crazy. His full time job requires overnight shifts (7pm to 7am). His part time job requires day shifts (7am to 11am). They overlap in a weird way, so that he doesn’t have a single day during the week where he isn’t working for at least part of that 24 hour period. His job does not really come with vacation time – he can’t even request days off until he works there for one year. However, it does fit his philosophy. He is very much focused on working as much as possible – I’ve never met anyone who works as hard and as often as he does.

My husband is also my best friend and favorite travel partner. We’ve moved across the country and back together. We’ve spent a week in Florida together. We’ve taken weekend trips around Arizona, California, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Ohio. We’ve visited family and friends in New Mexico and Texas and Tennessee. We’ve driven through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, etc. In short, we’ve travelled all over the country together. But due to my husband’s current lack of job flexibility, when I planned my trip to St. Kitts to visit my sorority sister, I knew I would be the only one of us who could take the time off from work.

I’m walking a fine line between bursting at the seams with excitement over my upcoming adventure, and trying to contain it so he doesn’t feel upset (or even jealous) that he doesn’t get to go with me. I would LOVE it if he could come with me. But he can’t get the time off from work, so I have to try to restrain my verbal musings so as not to sound obsessed with something he can’t participate in right now.

When he gets frustrated and overwhelmed at the way I tend to babble about things I want to see and do while travelling, he tries to bring me back down to earth by reminding me about responsibilities I signed up for here at home. We have student loans (a ton of them). We have a good amount of savings (but not even close to enough to be secure in retirement). We don’t own a house and I don’t own my car outright (I still have a couple thousand owed on my car). To be fair, I do keep my trips as inexpensive as I possibly can (my upcoming trip to the Caribbean will only cost around $300-400 out of pocket for 10 days), so it’s not like I’m putting us further in debt by travelling.

We also want to have kids some day, which means being prepared to send them to school, and to afford food and clothing and medical care. When I think about all of those things, it sort of deflates my bubble a little bit. I know I need to focus on getting rid of debt and preparing for the future.

But it is hard to do that year after year without taking time for a travel adventure. In fact, I think that is why I have such an urgent desire to travel now. I always said we would start trying to have kids when I turned 30. Well, I just turned 26, so that time is getting closer and closer. That means I only have 3 1/2 years to see as much of the world as possible before I have to start worrying about the welfare and development of our future children. Those 3 1/2 years will go by in a heartbeat.

I was hoping that by recording all of my planning here, I could get it all out and I wouldn’t have to talk about it in the rest of my life. But I find that the opposite is happening – the more I research places to visit, the more I am obsessed with seeing the world. My idea of “wander, one day” is becoming “wander, for many days”.

How do I fulfill my love of travel without being obsessed with it? I can’t seem to figure this one out.

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Categories: Daydreaming, Musings

Tags: , , ,

8 replies

  1. Microadventures! Small, local, inexpensive travel/adventures that do not require money, or much time. They have certainly helped me quench my thirst for larger expeditions that I cannot afford (both in terms of time and money). For some microadventure inspiration see my own page (http://jonmaiden.wordpress.com/microadventures) or the master of microadventure, Al Humphreys (http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/adventures/year-microadventure).

    But I don’t think you should feel guilty about your travel plans as long as you are genuinely being frugal. We only have one chance in this world and must make sure we make the most of the time we have. So you must fulfil your dreams if you possible can (even if it means camping rather than staying in hotels!).

    I have a great deal of sympathy for your husband – we live in a terrible society which too often requires people to work inhumane hours for too little recompense (under the guise of the myth that is ‘the America dream’). But that is another issue. Just a thought, but perhaps sit down together (or apart) and write your life lists and then see how you can each help achieve your life goals. In that way both parties know the other is helping them work towards their own dreams, whatever they may be.

    Please ignore me if this sounds like nonsense!

    Jon

    • Thank you for your support – I know I shouldn’t feel guilty about my travel plans since I am being frugal, but I feel frustrated and slightly sad that my husband can’t come on these amazing adventures with me.

      We have done the ‘life list’ exercise, and mine always seems to have a lot more on it than his does. However, he does have some things on his list that I WILL help him acheive! He’s always wanted to go to Amsterdam, and also expressed interest in Italy and Jamaica. Since his job history tends to be patchy (he’ll hold a job for a year or two until he moves on to something better), I’m counting on those ‘gaps’ between jobs to help him travel. During his last ‘gap’, we went on a week long trip to Florida (with free flights!) to visit his grandparents and just relax at the resort. So I have that in mind for the next time he switches jobs. I’ve even got a stash of airline points/miles saved up for our flights in case he suddenly gets some time off.

      But unfortunately, the ‘microadventures’ we can do are VERY limited. Because he has two jobs, and they have awkward schedules, there isn’t a single day of the week where he doesn’t work. When he does manage to get time off for holidays or whatever, we spend that time visiting his family in Ohio since his grandma is ill.

      Either way, I appreciate the support and the sentiment! I agree that we must make the most of the time we have – hence the quote at the top of my page! I will definitely regret NOT seeing the world, whereas a little frustration right now will be forgotten in the thrill of adventure.

      • Remember that life lists are far more than a list of activities or travel destinations. I’m sure there are many goals that can be achieved in the confines of your home.

        Regarding limited scope for micro adventures. Nonsense! There’s always plenty of scope for microadventure! Seriously though, go sleep on a hill, go wild swimming, go walk for 15km from your front door on a random compass bearing, go explore a cave, go create your own triathlon, go find the source of a river, go float down a river on a lilo, go… explore, dream, discover! There’s always time…

        Good luck… and have fun, whatever you both end up doing…

        Jon

        • True. Some of the other things that are on our life lists are definitely shared and non-travel related. For example, pay off student loans, have kids, etc. We do a lot of microadventures (per your definition) on Sunday/Monday/Tuesday evenings, since my husband doesn’t have to work those nights.

          We live near a river with a walking path, so we like to walk along the trail at sunset. There’s also a segment of the Appalachian Trail nearby – I’ve been wanting to visit that for months but haven’t actually done it yet. We’ll have to bundle up since it’s getting cold here, but it’ll probably be beautiful to see now with all the leaves changing colors – or even more so in the winter if it snows and the trees are covered in snow icicles! I love the peaceful stillness of the outdoors in the wintertime.

  2. My husband and I have the same problem, he can’t take time off from his demanding job, and I would love to start traveling more. I have come to the realization that things happen for a reason, and maybe it’s just not the right time for us to travel. I believe that sometimes the more effort you put into things, the harder it becomes. Just take a breath and keep your plans in mind but don’t let them become the most important thing to you. Make it the journey, not the destination. Iff and when the timing is right, he will get the time and it will work out.

    • You’re right – ‘forcing’ travel just makes it less enjoyable, not more. For now I’ll just focus on my upcoming solo trips (St. Kitts/Puerto Rico, and soon Nashville, Tennessee – more on that later today!), and planning the trip with my mom for next year. In the meantime, I’ll keep things flexible in case my husband can get time off of work.

      But it is frustrating that he doesn’t even get to request vacation until he’s been there for a full year, at which point he can only take time off if he can find someone to cover for him (which is nearly impossible with the 7pm to 7am Saturday night shift). I’m glad to know I’m not the only one dealing with this frustration though!

      • Frustration- my husband is there over 20 years, because of his management position, he is told when he can and can’t take time off. They “allow” him to take a few (3) days in a row, can’t imagine what would happen if he took a week. When our businesses grow enough to support us, we’ll determine when we will vacation! Hang in there, good things will come.

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