It’s time to pack up and hit the road! Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you. We travel because life is too short to stay in one place. Whether it’s to escape the daily routine, find new inspiration, or simply strengthen our bond with our BFF, traveling is the ultimate adventure. Summer is here, the sun as well, so go out and make some memories. We have only one life, and it’s time to carve out the time and a piece of your budget to shake off the doldrums.
A year ago we planned a trip to Scotland and Ireland because I’ve always wanted to go since I was a young adult. It wasn’t to experience the green countryside, rain, or bagpipes which are kind of meh. We have that in Seattle, so why? I’ve read every single Outlander book by Diana Gabaldon and am obsessed with the history that took place in that part of the world. With the same hunger, I have read countless books and watched endless movies about anything having to do with the region. I joke with my husband and tell him that my connection is that I had a grim depressive past life there. Despite my obsession with Ireland and Scotland, it was never convincing enough to replace one of our sunny travel destinations on our checklist. Now, 25 years later Scotland and Ireland made it to the top of our travel list. Yay!
Summer is here, the sun as well, so go out and make some memories. We have only one life, and it’s time to carve out the time and a piece of your budget to shake off the doldrums.
We were all packed up for the weather in May and June. Check! I had my rain gear, golf gloves, various jackets to layer with, boots, and scarves. Three weeks of rain while the forecast in Seattle predicted a spring heatwave and beautiful sunshine. Mark was ready to trade the sun for rain just for me and I couldn’t have loved him more when he was enthusiastically packed up to go.
I woke up with a startle on the plane, the clattering of the wheels against the runway jolting me awake. Mark, my husband, was vigorously rubbing my arm to tell me that we had finally arrived in Dublin, Scotland. The excitement pulsing through me made me forget about the accumulated hours of travel time and growling in my stomach. But, as soon as we stepped out of the airport, I felt a revelation. The signs were in Gaelic on top and English on the bottom read “Exit”. Oh, we made it!
The air was different, fresher. It was as if every breath was a cleansing of the lungs. The hills in the distance were painted with hues of green that I had not seen before. The quaint little villages with their cobblestone streets and different colored houses further enhanced the beauty that surrounded us. As we traveled on, winding our way through Scotland into Ireland, I realized that the beauty wasn’t only in nature but also in the people.
The locals welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles, sharing their culture and history with us. I felt as though I had known them for years, even though we had just met. They laughed with us, talked with us, and their hospitality even extended to their food, which was incredibly delicious and hearty. My mind felt at peace, my senses rejuvenated, and I felt like I was truly alive. It was like drinking a cup of mental health and every cell in my body said thank you.
We did the craziest activities like sheep herding, fly fishing, walking with a pack of Irish wolfhounds in the forest, and took several classes on falconry. We experienced walking in the thick of an Irish forest where our falcon would find prey and fly back to our arm for reward. Before or after dinner we would sit by the stream or listen to live folk music. It was exactly how I imagined it!
Whisky tastings and a Guinness tour were what I imagined too. Yep, to me, it still looks like soup in a glass up close which I left for my husband to enjoy. We stayed in old castles and manors which I thought was unique, but realized there were too many castles for lodging than one would think. Not as unique as I thought, but each one was spectacular. Sometimes I wondered if our room was haunted since it was over 800 years old, but chose to think about all the years of laughter that filled each room instead in order to go to sleep in peace. A much more comforting thought! By the way, it only rained once and we had to buy summer clothes! Another unexpected surprise is that I found a liking for the bagpipes and Irish fiddle music!
As we made our journey across the country to the airport, I reflected on how this trip was good for the soul. It was like being in a continuous state of bliss. We still chirped at each other when we were on the golf course, but that’s par for the course. Complete pun intended! Yet, it was somewhat of a light bicker. Mark had a complete meltdown golfing because he couldn’t hit his driver to save his life. I told him he was acting like a child which did not go so well for me but, eventually, I got him to laugh. I did growl at him several times when he was over-correcting me on how to hit, so annoying! Who does he think he is? Tiger Woods because he just picked up golf too? Yeah, that did not go well for him either, and I tried to speak in an Irish accent to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine with all sorts of interesting hand jesters that meant nothing but he got the message. I was so amused with myself….talk about being a child. Other than these real hateful moments on the golf course we were in a mentally blissful state.
I became increasingly worried about our six-hour drive on the freeway to the airport. Would I be able to maintain this newfound sense of peace and happiness when life started to get hectic again? How would I cope with the endless tasks that always seemed to pile up, the work deadlines that never seem to end, and the relationships that always need nurturing?
Yet, as I reflected on our travels, I realized that the answer was simple. I needed to set my own boundaries, to prevent myself from getting caught up in the whirlwind of my busy life. Scotland and Ireland had shown me that it was possible to slow down, to appreciate the moment instead of constantly running toward the next one. It helped me not to check my email and stay present in the moment as often as I could. I decided to establish more time for myself, to nurture my mind and body. To find better time management to maintain the love for friends and family.
Maybe, I can take a page of mental bliss and incorporate it into my home life. On the plane, I created a list of when to work, time for myself, for relationships and their priorities, health, and how I’d like to declutter my spaces around the house. Is there more to work on you might ask? Sure, but they are not my takeaways from travel.
Travel is not a luxurious hobby reserved for the rich. It’s a transformative experience that opens up a world of possibilities. From expanding your horizons to gaining new perspectives, travel is the ultimate antidote to a mundane life. It can be grand or just a fun getaway for the weekend with some friends.
Take a slice out of your travels and continue to chew on the memories that spark you to be your best self. With every getaway, I take something to savor on. I will remember the beauty of the lush countryside and the warmth of the people I met in Scotland and Ireland. It’s always the smiles and the laughter that fills my heart the most.
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