Riding an overnight train to Rovaniemi, Finland from southern Europe, I opened the door of my compartment on my way to the food cart. The car jolted forward and I grabbed the top of a seat for balance. As I steadied myself, the scent of body funk crept slowly up nose. Gingerly I maneuvered through the splayed bodies in the hall and the arms and legs hanging in the aisle. Some faces glistened with drool, elsewhere people were curled up on the cold train floor. My mind wandered back to the shower I took minutes ago in my private bathroom and the restful sleep I’d had in my bed with a pillow and warm blanket. I was glad I wasn’t back-packing it on this trip, I can’t do it anymore.
My travel style has grown up, I’ve bought nice luggage and I refuse to slum it. You won’t catch me in a hostel these days, I feel out of place. Call me uppity but I like a room with a private door that locks, my own bed, clean sheets and storage for my fancy suitcase. Sure, the communal elements of being in a hostel are cool, like meeting fellow travelers or splitting a basket of freshly baked croissants with a nice stranger but I’m over it. I can make new friends in a café and I’m too old to hook up and play beer pong anyway.
Living in Indonesia for the last two years has spoiled me. I’ve yet to find a country that provides similar service, where I can afford the good life without breaking the bank. I can rent a car with a personal driver for US$30 a day or book an indulgent spa escape, where treatments are punctuated by ginger tea breaks, champagne and a tasty lunch.
The good life also includes great food as a top priority. I still believe that the some of the best local bites come from street vendors but every once in awhile I’d like to eat from a table instead of the palm of my hand while balancing on a plastic stool by the roadside. To make sure I still get the local vibe as I traverse this world, I always research local restaurants online and ask locals for recommendations. I visit places where men’s pants don’t sag south, people shower and don’t use patchouli oil to cover their body odor.
Traveling in comfort has also helped me slow down and take in the sights, another change for me. I can hardly remember cities like Rome and parts of Paris because I rushed to see every museum and crumbling iconic building. But here’s the thing, I like brunch, high tea and people watching from a street-side cafe—and naps, long and delicious naps. What good is a getaway if you need to sleep it off once you get home?
Now I treat myself to the whole vacation experience and that begins with the flight. Flying directly in a class other than economy is important. A kajillion layovers? No, thank you. Even if I’m not in first class, I make sure to bring along first class amenities like cashmere socks and relaxing aromatherapy oils.
My travel goal used to be collecting as many passport stamps as possible but I was in competition with a ghost. Today, I’m seeking cultural immersion and if I miss a temple or two because I took a nap, a long and delicious nap, oh well.
Last 5 posts by Diana O'Gilvie
- Passport: Kingston's Warm Sandy Beaches and Wine Up Workouts - March 5th, 2015
- Black In Bali: The Expat Perspective - April 10th, 2014
- Bali On a Budget - August 19th, 2013