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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

random thoughts I have regarding travel

As much as it was frowned upon, I probably traveled more during the pandemic age than any other year in my life - mostly driven by making my own money, the enablement of working remotely and the ironic inflation of travel as a whole as people felt stuffy stuck in their homes and communities (if I remember correctly, there has been little to no cases of airborne / in-flight COVID infections, but I'm no Dr. Fauci so I could be wrong).

Before I was even born, my parents made travel a big part of their lives (I was inside my mom for a trip), and as much as I complained during my puberty years, I'm very glad they did. If you consider immigration a long-term or life-lasting form of travel, I've done it for almost two decades now. During college I went from coast to coast at least six times a year and even as a "native" Californian, I'd consider going up the 405 as a form of travel. In the most weird flex way possible, here are some of the places I've been to or plan to (including some obvious names just so the list looks longer) since August 18th 1997 in no particular order or uniform nomenclature: Seoul, South Korea; Busan, South Korea; Jeju Island, South Korea; Hokkaido, Japan; Hanoi, Vietnam; Edinburgh, Scotland; Glasgow, Scotland; Highlands, Scotland; Tijuana, Mexico; Cancun, Mexico; Panama City, Panama; Manaus, Brazil; Guam; Bali; and the usual suspects in the United States (Grand Canyon, NYC, etc.)

Note that the previous sentence was mostly to establish some level of legitimacy to what I'm about to talk about as people often throw the "who are you to discuss this topic" and partially to let everyone know how much of a blessed and privileged life I've lived! Now for some random thoughts:

Although there's some massive improvements to be made regarding the process, flights are an awesome time. There's something about going to an airport that brings about excitement, regardless of where you're headed. However, some of my favorite aspects of the flight experience are oddly specific - I enjoy airport food (think Sbarro or crappy Chinese Panda Express rip-offs), which almost gives me an excuse to have a cheat meal. There's something awfully satisfying by grabbing a meal at the airport food court, plugging in your airpods and catching up on a show you've been behind on. Admittedly creepy, I also love people watching at airports. You encounter people you'd never come across otherwise, and as evil as this sounds it's always fascinating to witness how people react to the frustrations associated with the flight experience (especially when they're stuck at TSA for having slightly larger toothpaste). I also love the the time you have when you're in flight and the isolation you feel from the world at large - I always avoid free Wifi because this feels like a forced time to disconnect and perhaps the only time nowadays that this is possible.

Traveling just to get out of where you are actually is a great way to recharge. It can be a thirty minute drive somewhere else to painfully order a $60 brunch, and it'll still feel refreshing as long as you don't look at your bank account afterwards. There's something innate about human nature that requires a reset of sorts, and it's hard to achieve without a change of pace. I don't think travel has to be extravagant - even a quick flight within state can give you what you need and especially considering costs, it might be a better experience overall than a European week long vacation. This is one aspect of the United States that I don't think people appreciate enough, the reality that we're more like a collection of 50 different countries with vastly different environments and experiences all at rather affordable prices. In the age of Google Maps and Yelp, your rental car age qualification (which I still have over a year left to go on) and LTE connection are the only limitations.

I typically side on caution when deciding on places to eat and go with whatever's recommended or has the highest reviews on Yelp. Unless you have someone from the area leading you, I don't buy into this "let's be hip and just go into a store that looks cute" mentality. I think there's a weird sense of prestige that people get when they go against the norm when it comes to eating out and finding places that the "locals would go to." As someone who's lived in two areas nationally known for food, I don't think there's many places that are hidden from the tourists that only locals know. If the locals think it's good, it's going to have good reviews on Yelp and the tourists will know about it too. There's no reward for eating crappy food.

When it comes to deciding who you're traveling with, I think the only major deciding factor that directly contributes to the overall vibe of that trip is whether or not the group's members decide on this aspect of traveling - do you want to fill every minute with an activity or are you going to "chill." I'm usually on the first school of thought (investment banking PTSD, I was actually the latter until I experienced the lack of time for the first time in my life) but can definitely respect the latter. There's going to be built up frustration both ways if you don't establish this early on, especially if you're going somewhere far and spending a lot of money to do so. In this way, sometimes bigger groups are better as you can separate into smaller groups depending on which way you lean. I actually think this is something you should consider when dating or looking for a life long partner as that's the individual you'll be traveling with the most in the future and it'll get tiring if you can't agree on this.

On the topic of thinking about family or future family travels, just listen to your parents when you're on trips with them. Go do the cringey picture opportunity and the 5am sunrise hike, smile for the 500th picture you're taking because only your mom wants to, and help your dad with the bags. It sucks at the moment and I still hate it sometimes too, but in reflection of every trip I have my only regrets are wasting my time playing on my DS or texting some girl when I could've taken one more picture or not ruin that one dinner by saying that rude comment. I promise leveling up Charizard and Snapchatting can wait whereas your folks getting old doesn't. And my boomer comment of the day - pictures do last and revamp the memories that may fade.

I love traveling and outside of food (which also can be somewhat considered a form of travel) it's the only thing I spend money on. Maybe it's a typical millennial thing that I'm subscribing to of loving experiences over assets, but there's definitely things to be gained by putting yourself out there physically. It's a world of a difference talking to people who've been all over - I also don't mean the folks who go to South America to get a tan and drink with their college friends all day, I'm talking about actually embracing experiences or living in diverse places over time - in comparison to people who've stayed in the same place forever. This post is also a coping mechanism as I get ready to go back to Southern California and somewhat settle for the time being - maybe I'll love it even more than being all over or I'll hate it and move to Denver.

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