My husband and I often schedule what we call “feeler” trips inside a longer vacation. Usually this is less than 24 hours, and is a stopover in a place that we want to go back to for a longer journey someday, but simply don’t have the time one the trip we are on.
We do this to “scout” out the place and see if it is somewhere that we would want to go for longer.
Of course as a disclaimer, we have never gone anywhere on one of these “feeler” journeys that we didn’t want to return to later.
Our last “feeler” was to Sri Lanka, while we were enroute to the Maldives. We fell in love with the place very quickly. We were stunned by its beauty, what we were able to see and intrigued by the culture from the time we walked off the plane.
Of course then we discovered the car we had arranged for hadn’t shown up and had to figure out alternative transportation quickly.
But we were able to go to the beach, have some amazing curries, and watch in awe as we twisted through the jungle to and from the airport.
Many people have asked us about these stopovers, often with the criticism that it is too short of a time to see everything.
I realized however, that when we travel, it is never our intention to try and see everything. We travel to learn. We travel to know the places we go to. You can learn a lot in a short stop, a “scouting” trip.
These are some of the things we consider:
1. The air – is it dry, humid, muggy, smoggy? There is a lot that you can learn by just stopping and taking a deep breathe.
2. The people – how are they dressed? Dark colors? New Zealanders love the color black. Conservatively? Less than you had expected? Dhaka was surprisingly less conservative than I initially expected. Fabrics? In Singapore, I was amazed at the vast array of linens, which makes sense in a tropical nation.
3. Food – oh by far one of my favorite parts! We usually try a sampler of whatever local deliciousness we smell. This actually seems safer – it seems that it is usually the western food we get sick on, not the local fare – which actually makes sense when you consider – most people are better at making their own food than someone else’s!
4. Colors – are there certain colors that stand out? In Sri Lanka, turquoise blue was everywhere, in Thailand purple is prominent in Vietnam green.
There are many other things that you can observe on a short trip in. Come up with your own list. Decide what will make a place stand out in your mind and observe when you land.
Whenever you travel, go as a student, go and observe – see each place as one that you would want to know locally – observe it as if you are planning to live there even if you are just there overnight. Rather than rushing to cram everything in, enjoy the beauty of the ordinary.