After I wrote the post about my trip to Haiti, I started to think about all of the great trips I have taken: Jamaica, Paris, Cancun, Peru, New York, Nashville, Charleston, Boston. GOOD STUFF. I love traveling and have some wonderful memories from these experiences. Given the chance again, I would choose to do them all in a heartbeat, and I hope to take many more trips in the future.
Then I started to wonder, Are all trips a good decision? Should I always say yes when an opportunity to travel comes along? Is it ever a bad decision to take a trip?
As I started to think through the trips I’ve taken, I began to think of a few instances where maybe it wasn’t the best timing or best decision to take a trip.
There is only one trip I really regret taking: my month-long trip to Germany in between my junior and senior year of college. Regret may be a strong word, I really don’t sit around thinking about this trip ever, or have deep scars from this trip… I just look back and can see clearly that this trip wasn’t the best for me.
I really wanted to study abroad. I was a leader of an international organization on campus and thought studying abroad would give me a well-balanced college experience. It didn’t work out financially to do a semester, so I decided to try to get some college credits during a summer abroad. The desire to study abroad was stronger than any questions or doubts I had, so I suppressed them and kept moving forward. I wanted it to work so badly.
The trip was not the best for me for a few reasons: 1) I didn’t have the money to go. Even though it was just a month, the trip was still really expensive. My parents couldn’t afford to send me, so I saved as much as I could (waiting tables) and took out student loans to pay for the rest. 2) I wish I had gone with friends, or at least someone that I knew before the trip. The majority of our group were guys from fraternities and girls from sororities (which I honestly have nothing against), but their lifestyle of drinking and partying was not really my thing. Why go to Europe if you are going to drink heavily until dawn, wake up hungover and are sick and miserable on a tour of a castle? That’s not my idea of a good time, and it made for a very lonely and isolating trip.
Ultimately though, I didn’t pray about the decision before I made it, and don’t think God wanted me to go on this trip. Of course he used it for his glory and I learned some pretty intense lessons that month, but some decisions we make are outside of God’s will, and I think this trip was one of them.
I haven’t thought about this until now, so it’s not like it’s really affected my life for the worse, but is just a little example of a time when I felt like I shouldn’t have gone, yet did it anyways. (Kinda like Jonah).
Okay that’s an example of a big trip. What about short weekend trips where I don’t feel a strong calling either way?
This is something I’m working through — balancing the amount of time I spend away vs. at home on the weekends. I take a lot of weekend trips, either to visit family, friends, retreats, or getaways with J. I usually justify it because I know if we have a family one day we will not have the luxury to pick up and go as easily. These trips and friends are so precious and we have made some amazing memories. But sometimes too many weekends away leaves you feeling exhausted, drained and not ready for the work week.
Whenever I’m asked or given the chance to go out of town, I have to ask myself what I need right now. What is the best choice:
- Am I really behind on home life and really need a weekend to get things done?
- What do the next few weeks look like (at work, home), and will I need to prepare for it over the weekend?
- Have I gotten enough rest through the week that I feel energized to travel?
- Do I need time with my Raleigh friends?
- Am I leaning towards a decision because of pressure from others, or because I genuinely want to?
- How long has it been since the last trip?
- Is it time for me to get out of my comfort zone and do something different?
- Is going on this weekend trip the best financial decision?
- Am I choosing to have an organized home over relationships?
Sometimes I answer yes to all of these questions! But as I dig a little deeper, the answer always surfaces. Evaluating where I am lacking at the moment helps make wise decisions when it comes to a choice that is pretty much a good option (traveling) vs. another good option (staying at home).
Does anyone else have this problem? Have you ever been on a trip that was not the best decision for you at the time? How do you make decisions on when or whether to travel?