Like many of you (read on), I recently decided to hit the road, this time for my first real vacation since 2019. You might wonder why a retired guy needs a vacation, but, as has been rigorously explored in these pages over the past few years, we all need to get away now and then no matter how we typically spend our days. Travel’s in our blood as a species; we can’t live without it. As I have previously noted in these pages, I learned this the hard way by not taking vacations for 20 years. Big mistake. Live and learn.
And yet in fact almost all of us were stuck at home, in many cases for two years or even more, thanks to the pandemic. We’ll be discussing our national reactions and responses to Covid for decades to come – did we do too much, not enough, overreact, underplan, or what? But as interesting as these questions may be, such doesn’t really matter for our purposes today.
What does matter is that demand for travel surged as the virus did the opposite, so much so that a new term has been coined: revenge travel. There doesn’t seem to be a precise definition for revenge travel, but I think it’s used most often to describe travel undertaken simply to compensate for the disruption and isolation that defined the pandemic era, again two-plus years of something between significant-to-monumental inconvenience and outright hell. The thesis behind revenge travel, then, is that millions are now traveling simply to travel, anywhere, posting a big screw-you middle finger to an event that, again, changed us as individuals, societies, and perhaps even as a species.
OK – we can certainly argue the merits of attempting to gain revenge upon a situation that was thrust upon us and clearly beyond our control, the result of a pathological organism we clearly can’t reason with, and I understand and appreciate the desire to just get back out there, anywhere, regardless of cost of even desired benefits. But we must also note that travel, as has been well-documented, has become significantly less convenient and significantly more expensive since before the pandemic. One’s thus got to be pretty hell-bent on revenge to even attempt travel during 2023. Right?
Well, I am one of those millions who did exactly that – but, instead, my mindset was entirely the opposite of revenge. Revenge against a virus, or even (what I believe to be the) human error that might have led to one of the most painful experiences many of us will ever know – this makes no sense to me. Let’s not forget why travel is essential in the first place – relaxation, education, self-discovery, and new perspectives not otherwise possible without travel; these are goals worth pursuing. Revenge, well, not so much. Travel anywhere, just to travel, especially considering the challenges noted above? Nope; not a good idea, at least IMHO.
That being said, and as has been well-documented in the past, my vacation style is solidly do-nothing. Gimme a cruise, a beach, some simple but well-prepared delights to consume, and I’m more than happy. In thinking about the aforementioned getting back out there and my core justifications for travel as are listed above, however, I decided to stretch myself a little – yes, still a cruise, but not a sit-in-a-deck-chair-and-wait-for-another-Mango-Madness (I’m told Norwegian has regardless rechristened these delights the Mango Meltdown), I was up for an adventure. And absolutely not a revenge adventure, rather a visit to a place I normally would never have considered. A chance to see sights few might ever see, to walk in places that few have ever visited (and I mean over millennia, not just since the pandemic), to consider questions of the environment, global cultures, and even global politics. That’s right – I went on a cruise to Iceland and Greenland on a Lindblad Expeditions icebreaker, the National Geographic Endurance.
My purpose here is not to regale you with a travelog; others at Road Unraveled, my esteemed traveling companions, will do that. But I do want to say that the stark, unspoiled beauty of Greenland absolutely touched me to my core. We went hiking in a fjord that was far from civilization (and that, I’m sure, very few people have ever visited, and that over hundreds or thousands of years), saw many icebergs and glaciers, observed musk ox (albeit from a distance), a large group of humpback whales (these very close-up), and learned a lot about the environment, indigenous and European cultures and (yes, again) the politics of what is going to become a very important region on the global scene. Lindblad positions their outings as educational expeditions and adventures, and, true to this goal, numerous on-board experts discussed all of the important aspects of the voyage, and from multiple angles. Lindblad also had on-board a couple of experts in photography that stepped up my iPhone game. I never considered the iPhone to be a serious camera; now I do.Anyway, one of my fellow passengers, more experienced than me, described Lindblad’s approach as “roughing it in a five-star hotel,” and I think that’s as good a description as any. The ship is specious, comfortable, and not too big (nor too small), with an astonishing 1:1 staff/guest ratio. Everyone on the crew side was friendly and helpful, even in 60-foot (I am not exaggerating here) seas – the crossing from Greenland to Iceland was more than some could easily take, but as an experienced sailor, for me this was home. If you’re a total nerd, as I am, the open-bridge policy provided 24/7 access to the nerve center of the ship, and I even managed to finagle a visit to the engine control room. Nerd heaven at sea, let me tell you.
Oh, and the food. You could not hope for better, because better does not exist. Anywhere. On this planet, anyway. Trust me, I know. Five stars? Nah. How about six?
Anyway – revenge wasn’t and still isn’t part of my travel vocabulary. Stretching myself and getting out of my comfort zone; that’s new for me and absolutely wonderful. And so – mission accomplished. Revenge? I think not. To do just to do is a waste of time, IMHO. This adventure confirmed that once and perhaps for all.
But speaking of revenge, there’s an old saying, one that you’ve probably heard: living well is the best revenge. I think this one just refers to the daily hassles of modern life. Yup, those aren’t going away, pandemic or whatever challenge might come next, individually or collectively. But if enjoying one’s life is the prescribed medicine here, and that sounds good to me – well, one should, in my humble opinion, pursue such with simple joy and without the requirement to get back at anything.
Looking for more guest posts? Here are a few more to take a look at!