Before booking any flights, hotels or tours, its important to consider what you really want from a break from work, the routine, regular life. Over the years of holidays, travel and adventure, I have come to realise that they are quite different in charactor and in nature.
The average working person has X amount of days leave to take from their workplace and, again, the majority of people want to have a change of scenery and time to relax and chill out. For some that might be spending 2 weeks sitting by the pool, soaking up the sun and drinking margeritas and spending the evenings eating and drinking with friends new or old. For others, they might choose the security of the hotel and enjoy the pool at the end of an organised tours to one place of local interest or another.
Its a safe, organised, risk aversive, ‘don’t have to think to much’, relaxing period designed to re charge the batteries and indulge. It can also be a way of enjoying the sun without being thrown into the center of a totally different culture.
OK so let’s take this need for a holiday to somewhere different, let’s head for Vietnam. Vietnam offers the whole range of possibilities. You could go to stay in a hotel on the beautiful beaches of Da Nang. There is a wide range of hotels in this area where you can enjoy the very best of the best in Vietnam. And you can take a short trip to the delightful ancient town of Hoi An that has numerous restaurants and cafes. Everyone speaks excellent English. It is a beautifully preserved town that has a lot of architecture and history to share. It is on the river so trips are available after which you can relax with a drink at a bar by the river’s edge. And if shopping is your thing, it is Vietnam’s answer to your prayers. There is a wide array of tailors and dress makers who will put your ideas into reality. You can choose a pattern from a book or simply take a picture for them to work from. 24 hours later, you have your item created especially for you. And don’t forget the shoes. Cobblers will also create individually designed sandles, shoes or boots for you.
If culture is what you would like, you are very near the ancient Kymar ruins in the mountains overlooking Da Nang. And then there is the old city of Hue where you can visit the Citadel, take a boat trip along the Perfume River, visit the many Pagodas and Temples along the river side or enjoy the gentle buzz of this lovely little town.
Example of a Holiday Tour with HGH Travel (www.HGHTravel.com)
Taking us from that option to the idea of Travel is a sliding scale of detials. I have certainly done holidays where I have had a package in a hotel with pool and flight. I have also booked organised tours from the hotel for the day and thoroughly enjoyed them. I then started organising my own tours to visit places that I wanted to see in the area. My next step was to book hotels and flights seperately to allow for more flexibility so I could do a two places trip moving from one area to another under my own steam.
So here I am beginning to move on that sliding scale from Holiday to Travel. It has the same purpose and outcome but it involves more planning, a more pro active and involved focus that taps into the independant nature. I started going to places on my own. While this is not in any way a pre-requisite to either Holiday or Travel, it certainly brings in the need for more decision making on the hoof and adds an element of the unknown, excitement and, at times, fear that tends to became more into focus as you move along the sliding scale to being the full out Traveller.
So being a Traveller is about independance, it is about making choices that are not pre ordained by someone else. It is about taking risks, about a balance of planning and winging it with an overview of where you need to be when. It is about meeting people along the way who are doing the same sort of thing and taking advantage of maximum flexibility in your way of thinking, your plans and even your destination. Or you might map out your preset time more accurately moving from spot to spot as per plan but each time arriving at a new unknown place that is your territory to explore for the next 1, 2 or 5 days. But largely, being a traveler is about taking risks, about being independent, about going off grid (even if only a little bit) to see and experience life that is totally foreign (literally) and unwanted by the average Holiday maker.
So let’s stay in Vietnam and look at what the Traveler might do.
Starting earlier on the Holidaymaker-Traveler scale, someone who wants more than the comfort of staying in one place might opt for an organized tour that takes them to all of the hot spots in the country. That might take them from the capital city of Hanoi in the north to the magnificent Ha Long Bay down to Hue and Hoi An in the central area and then to Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta in the south. In this option, there is variety, there is an element of travel but it is all organized by the tour guide who is
also available for sorting out any issues that might arise. Hotels are booked, transport is taken care of, food is organized or restaurants will be suggested, tours are included. But it certainly brings in the adventure and the buzz of being on the move and having the opportunity of seeing and experiencing more places. You might even want to add in a second country to the itinerary….. Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar are all easily accessible from Vietnam and can be included in a similar package.
OK so let’s move onto the Advernturer.
Let’s take the scenario above of travelling from north to south in Vietnam but now you are doing it alone. You are planning your own step by step progress. Accomodation might be anything from a room in a hotel to bunks in a hostel. Transport might be anything from flights to local trains to local buses or some combination of the three. Some people might arrive and hire a motorbike as their mode of transport. That is definitely at the top end of Adventure especially in Vietnam where the roads can be rather chaotic at times.
Example of a Holiday-Traveler Tour with HGH Travel (www.HGHTravel.com)
The Traveler-Adventurer might search out the means to go to the less travelled parts of the country. Language barriers are seen as being less of a barrier, more of another aspect of the adventure to communicate effectively…or at all…. with someone from a completely different culture speaking a totally undecipherable language.
The deeper into Adventure you go, the more risk is involved with the associated excitement and opportunities for things not going quite as planned and the more need there is for being able to go with the flow and simply dealing with stuff when it evolves. It’s often about meeting some really intriguing and interesting people who you would just never meet in an everyday world. You get to have experiences that would not be in your frame of understanding as you just have no concept of them even existing. On one of my Traveler-Adventures in SE Asia, I went to Laos and decided to stay in a homestay for a few days. I was on my own and decided that my little bit of security was to pre book a car to pick me up at the airport and take me to the homestay. After that, I was on my own. I booked into the dorm and headed down to the ‘restaurant’ which was basically a rather delicate looking raft floating on the river. The fading lights had the advantage of hiding the less glamorous aspects of the raft but proved rather a challenge when it came to finding one’s way OFF the raft and back to the dorm. As a 60 year old woman, I was from a different world to the 20 something groups who were staying at the same place. But three charming young men were delightful and sort of accepted me into the brood for the few days that we were there. They did tentatively invite me (the sort of invitation where someone offers but obviously does not want you to say yes) to go out with them into town one evening which I declined with thanks. It was the start of a great visit to Laos which sadly ended with me losing my passport……but that’s another story!
And then of course you have the far end of the sliding scale where people go away to climb mountains, absail into caves, cycle 500 miles or something else equally exhausting to even write about.
And at the end of the day, this is a relatively short period into which you are putting a significant amount of hard earned cash and so it is important that you do your level best to get what YOU want from this time. There are no right or wrong ways of doing this. If risk sends your stress levels off the chart, it is important to take that into consideration. If risk=stress but you want more than a Holiday, then consider how to get the elements of Travel and Adventure that you want while staying within your comfort zone enough to get the buzz without the fear. Always remembering that excitement and fear are close buddies and it is only a short distance from one to the other.
If you are traveling alone, the decision is less complex as you only have to keep yourself happy. If you traveling with a companion or companions it is important to ask questions to clarify what you ALL want to get from time away from home. Maybe there is a need for a compromise of some sort to maximize comfort, relaxation, excitement and thrill for everyone. And remember, what is exciting for one is horror for another. If you need some help in deciding what sort of trip will suit your needs, feel free to talk to one of the consultants at HGH Travel in Vietnam. Alternatively, you can contact myself in the UK. I lived in Vietnam and now am based in the UK. I support HGH in their marketing and would be delighted to offer any insights and support that I can.
Have a great Holiday/Traveling/Adventure