It's 3 am and I'm researching. I'm on my side, the Iphone light dimmed, trying to not wake up my husband. I'm flipping through various Airbnb's and hotels- each one representing a place we could go. A future experience. I'm researching trains & more trains and buses connected to those trains, and just buses on their own sometimes. I'm searching in the cities I want to visit- or the cities nearby those cities that I want to visit- that I could, you know, take a short bus from. (With alternative travel, sometimes you have to get exceedingly creative.)
And the neighborhoods, I have to research those too. Which are good and which are rougher. Which claim to be up and coming, but are secretly full of crime, or tourist traps, or hard to walk around in. Where can we live like a local, while simultaneously hitting all the must see spots, while of course staying somewhere completely full of all the natural beauty we can stand. And how will we get around? On foot or bus or train or rental car or ride share. Sleep, obviously, is not gonna happen. There is too much to find out.
I tend to think there is one perfect answer out there to most things if I only search hard enough to find it. When we moved into our first Austin apartment I researched for days- every possible complex, every possible review, the pros and the cons. When we bought our home - same thing. My phone beeped constantly with alerts from Zillow and realtor.com and in each home, each neighborhood, I saw a possible future. With vacations I am the same. As I plan it- seeing the pictures, reading memories of other travelers, and building a complicated travel plan- it becomes real. The perfect trip for us is out there, I just have to find it.
And then sometimes it doesn't happen.
My 4 stop New Mexico Christmas trip got shelved due to its lack of relaxation (What? 4 cities in 5 days doesn't sound relaxing to you?) We went to a beach vacation in Galveston instead. The Portland/Seattle/Vancouver trip got put on the back-burner when realizations of friends wedding travel and solo pre-planned trips made us take off our rose colored travel glasses (and book a stunning bed and breakfast for our anniversary this year instead.) I'm not complaining.
Social media though, doesn't let it go. "Hey!" predictive advertising says. "Don't forget about that amazing Vancouver B&B with the personal hot tub and iron claw bed" or "That Airbnb in in Seattle really is almost always booked, trust us, don't you want to get it before it's too late?" I do- Airbnb- I do!
And I can imagine myself there, walking the "highly walkable community" streets, stopping at a farmers market in every town- just to browse what's in season, remembering the time a visit to Portland brought my first tastes of the ocean, and snow, and a waterfall so beautiful I still remember its name.
And I remind myself that the trip is not going away. Someday I will plan a trip to all of these places, and embrace the days of bizarre solo travel, and wind up in the hotels I've researched at 3 in the morning, or hiking up that mountain that trip advisor says I've gotta try, or staring out into a body of water so wide and deep I can't see its edges.
Until then, I'll put the research on pause. And get way more sleep at night.