Travelers fall into two different categories:
My Dad is a planner. Family vacations were undertaken with the same level of care as the Allied Invasion, although it’s an unfair comparison as General Patton had far more support staff. My Dad was stuck with my mom and me.
During family vacations we woke with the sun, there was a lot to see. If my mom or I complained my dad would ask with disbelief, “if you wanted to lay about in bed all day doing nothing why did we bother to go on vacation?” We would sprint from sight to sight and requests for breaks to eat, drink, or go the bathroom were seen as signs of weakness and failure to be a team player. There were whole worlds to be explored and we had only 14 days, thirteen nights.
In University I signed up for a semester in England. My Dad was in a lather. Months and months of travel, so much time to fill, so much to see. He made lists, maps, checklists, packing suggestions. He purchased enough film to outfit a squadron of photo journalists so that no moment of my trip would go unrecorded. I pointed out that my research indicated that England also sold film. My Dad sighed with the patience of one used to working with the very simple. He pointed out that of course film was available there, but everyone knew it was more expensive, probably inferior foreign film too.
My father pointed out that the seasoned traveler never left home without key items, photocopies of your key travel documents, sufficient film, and a ham. My Dad was convinced that ham was also an expensive commodity in England and that taking my own lunch meat, a travel ham, could be a lifesaver on the trip. I pictured myself carting it around in a bowling bag and breaking it out on a train to Paris, sharing the wonders of a good honey baked ham with my fellow backpackers.
I shared this ham logic with my friends and at my going away party they solemnly presented me with can of processed ham meat. I took the ham with me everywhere in case of a lunch meat emergency. When the semester ended I set it free at the airport, it didn’t seem right to eat it after all we had been through together. I doubted the ham could settle in for a solitary life in a kitchen cupboard after its adventures.
Now that I am grown and capable of organizing my own travel, I rarely plan. It drives my Dad to distraction. How can I fly off with no hotel reservations, no listing of restaurants, without any clear idea of where I am going and what I will see when I get there? What if I miss something? What if I haven’t packed for the right weather? For him the adventure is in the planning, for me it is the telling of the story when it’s over. When I’m home we’ll share a ham sandwich and I’ll show him the pictures.