The more I have talked about what I’m doing, the more people say things that make it clear that they have their own ideas and fantasies about this big trip. Mostly, these are untrue ideas. And, they seem to be committed to these dreams, regardless of my efforts to clarify. Even so, here are the top 10 myths people have about my travels (and a tiny bit of reality).
10. Europe = France
France wasn’t even on my original plan. I only ended up going there because I had a lovely invitation from a friend. Europe contains a lot of other countries. Many of which I am more interested in visiting than France.
France is fine. It’s just not at the top of my list.
9. France = Paris
When I was in France, people kept telling me to visit things that were near Paris.
I was over 450 miles away from Paris — so, um, no thanks.
8. Working Abroad = Taking a Sabbatical
I wish. No, I’m not on a 6-month vacation. I’ll be working the entire time I’m traveling.
7. Being in Europe = Seeing Every Single Landmark
Well, as I mentioned in #8, I’ll be keeping a regular work schedule, so I couldn’t possibly have enough time to see every tourist attraction on the continent. Additionally, I hate crowds and waiting in lines. So, while I expect to check out some things, I really don’t feel the need to pull out a guide book and make a to-do list.
6. Traveling to Europe = Falling in Love with an Exotic Stranger
Right. As if this is the easiest thing in the world to do. I have lived in the United States for 40 years and have never fallen in love. So, why would Europe be any different? Is there some sort of European love magic that I don’t know about? Will a hunky man — who is perfectly suited to me — drop right in front of my face? Um, I doubt it.
(Having said that, the men in Spain are ridiculously gorgeous,
so I would not likely run in the opposite direction, if one of them tried to talk to me.)
5. Traveling = Lying on the Beach All Day
While that sounds great, it’s not really possible, because — it’s winter. Yes, Europe has winter. The way I see it, it needs to be 78 degrees or warmer for me to hang out on the beach. I have only had one or two days where temperatures were above 70 (and only after I got to Spain), so it’s really not the right time of year for that fantasy. No umbrella drinks and suntan on this trip. I will have to do better next time.
4. Busy Schedule = You Really Are Taking a Sabbatical
Many clients and potential clients seem to think that if I can’t fit in their work, it’s because I’m sitting at a sidewalk café, eating a croissant, and making eyes at a euro-hottie — not because I have a ton of other work that I’ve already committed to. They are wrong. I’m working just as much as (actually, more than) I do when I’m at home.
3. Traveler = You’re Writing a Book
No, I’m really not. If I don’t have time to write a book in Atlanta (which I do not), then I’m not going to magically have the time while traveling. Newsflash: Elizabeth Gilbert got paid, in advance, to write Eat, Pray, Love. (In other words, THAT was her job.) I have no such deal. (I am open to the idea, though, if someone wants to send me someplace cool, I’ll happily write about it.)
2. I Know You = I’ll Love What You Love
Somehow people think that everything is amazing. I do not. Lots of things are great. Most things are not a must see. I got just as excited to see West Side Provisions (Atlanta place I’ve been) in a Jason Bateman movie as I did to see Big Ben (London place I’ve been) in Twilight. The experiences I like are simple and pretty much never, ever (ever) include a crowd or a tour guide. Thanks for the advice, but I’m just going to keep it simple.
1. Travel = The Glamorous Life
Not everything is perfect when you’re traveling. I’m not rolling like a movie star over here. So, while I completely recognize that when you’re the one at home, it can seem quite flashy for me to be off running around all over Europe, the reality is that there are regular challenges, ups and downs, good and bad – just like everywhere.