Sometimes you have to do things that are very unlike yourself to escape the status quo.
I did this halfway intentionally and halfway by accident when I attended Maker Faire in San Francisco a couple weeks ago. I tried being, as my friend put it, a “nomad”. It was pretty game changing – enough to give me the actual vacation I needed.
I had been extremely stressed in the days and weeks leading up to Maker Faire. An immediate family member was hospitalized, there was nothing I could do about it being 1000 miles away, I wasn’t in the greatest place myself to begin with for other reasons, and my focus was gone. My work started to suffer, people around me likely noticed, that in turn created more stress about their perceptions. Sleep contined to get worse. Things weren’t good.
Partially out of laziness and partially because I just plain didn’t have time, I managed to schedule my flight to SFO but never scheduled a hotel. Put it off again and again until finally, I was on the plane without one, the morning of Maker Faire. It was at that point I decided screw it, I’ll keep it this way and play this entire thing by ear. Everything in life is an appointment I need to rush off to, and I’m sick of it. What if I just spent this weekend without any appointments?
I’ve never felt so free. I was able to relax and be happy. Most of this was because Maker Faire is simply amazing and I felt at home amidst like-minded geeks with a drive to make awesome things, but there was nothing in the back of my mind telling me when this would end, when I had to prepare for my next appointment like checking in or out of hotels and getting on flights. Sometimes it seems like life is just a series of appointments you’re late for when you have ADD, and this turned the tables. Suddenly I had nothing to do and everywhere to go.
The flip side of this is that, at times, I felt like I burdened people as they went out of their way to give me a ride, or when I was tagging along with a group who didn’t know me that well, or when one of them even offered to let me stay at their place.. but it all ended up being positive! I made more friends than I ever would have retreating back to my hotel room at night, I was stress-free and enjoyed every minute of it, even when their car broke down and we sat around for hours! When it was time to part ways with Maker Faire and my friends, I got a rental car, but prior to doing so discovered the airport is an interesting place to just hang out.. it’s like a mall in a lot of ways, plenty of places to grab food and surf the web which is what I do anyway, why not hang around? Once again, beats being alone in a hotel room.
After getting the option to choose a car and choosing a comfortable one, the second night I even decided.. fuck a hotel. It would have been $200 at the very least for 2 nights on a cushion and blanket. When you’re not picky, that doesn’t make a ton of sense. I got a rental car when I felt like it, for $35 a day, and it’s portable! I slept in it for the few hours I actually slept. I didn’t miss having a bed and I’m $150 richer because of it! I could have looked into other things like couch surfing, but I didn’t think of it at the time. I did glance at AirBnB (which doesn’t allow bookings after 4pm) and Hotel Tonight (which used to work well but now has no discounts at all.) Ended up just choosing the car.
Granted it’s a little wierd, I got some shocked looks when people asked where I was staying that night and I replied with “Not sure yet!”, but again.. zero appointments. Things were so chaotic in my life and so filled with interruptions, that I stopped trying to plan. I stopped trying to control. I just became one with the chaos and things became easy. It’s not something I’ll be doing frequently or maybe ever, but it put me in situations I wouldn’t have been otherwise. Turned something stressful into a puzzle problem with some restrictions and no definite answer. Maybe it’s something everyone should try at least once?
P.S. For anyone who hasn’t gone on one, another great vacation is a cruise, where you’re handed a menu of things to do each day and literally the only thing you have to worry about is showing up. Want to stay in your room all day and order room service? You got it. For free. Want to jump from activity to activity all day and ride ATVs up into the mountains to drink wine? You can do that too. It’s really pretty fantastic.. once you actually get on the boat 😉