We’re going to Italy. Seven more sleeps and we’re off. My last trip to Italy was 20 years ago. It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago until I actual count the years. 20 years is a long time and a lot has changed. 20 years ago I was a young professional working in my first job. My best friend and I managed to save up a month’s worth of vacation time for our great adventure in Europe. It was a carefree adventure. We had no responsibilities (aka mortgages, homes, pets, families) and less expectations. Although we quickly decided after two days of traveling that we were not cut out for “hosteling” with shared rooms and bathrooms. We were Bed and Breakfast/Guest house or small hotel with private bath kinda girls.
20 years later and I have managed to cobble 18 days away from my job to travel. I’m traveling with my One and Only and although I have more responsibilities (house, family, pets) I’m leaving them behind to travel to Bella Italia. Abbey will be left in the capable hands of her “Zia M.” and Uncle C. whom she loves. The house will be secured and watched by ADT and neighbours and our jobs and family will cope without us (we hope).
The differences between planning and traveling 20 years later are remarkable thanks to technology. 20 years later I am once again staying in Bed and Breakfasts, Guest Houses or small private hotels. The difference this time around – we booked everything on-line, checked out reviews on Trip Advisor, poured over websites and accompanying photos and used Google Earth to check on the locations of our preferred accommodations. Granted, we are missing out on the fun (trepidation? angst?) of arriving in a city and finding a place to stay based on availability and the recommendations of the tourist information office in the local train station. Instead, we have enjoyed countless hours planning our trip, extending the sense of anticipation and adventure for months.
20 years ago, I kept a journal where I tried to carefully record our days. I took 10 roles of film (360 photos) that I had to carefully protect and carry with me and hope that the photos I took captured the sights and experiences and feelings of our adventure. I had to wait to develop my photos upon my return home and hope that I remembered the name of the churches, piazzas, fountains and landscapes in my photos. Developing my photos was one of the first priorities upon returning home. Organizing and examining the photos (that turned out and were worth keeping) and re-reading the journal provided my BFF and me an opportunity to relive the beauty and excitement, the laughter and joy and misadventures of our travels.
20 years later, I plan to journal my trip on my netbook (although I may also carry a paper journal with me). I can take countless digital photos because I don’t have to worry about running out of film and developing costs. I can re-take photos if an image isn’t quite right. I can upload and blog about my adventures and share with friends and family more immediately. And then, when I’m home, I can once again spend time organizing and examining photos, re-reading my journal and blog and reliving the beauty and excitement of our Italian vacation and of course any misadventures.
20 years later, I can take my e-reader rather than multiple novels, magazines etc. for the plane trip. This technological advance is particularly cherished because a small e-reader takes up much less space than multiple books and gives me more room for clothes and shopping and shoes. 20 years ago I managed to carry home three new pairs of shoes as well as several pieces of new clothing and souvenirs (for friends and family) all in a backpack. Granted it was a large backpack but still smaller than a suitcase. (I did ship home a shearling coat that I picked up in the Florence market that I couldn’t fit in my backpack but we won’t count that little extravagance). 20 years later, I should have room to bring back so much more (and maybe another shearling coat?). We will still carry guidebooks with us. After all, I think it would look silly and it may be awkward walking around with an e-reader while we are sightseeing.
20 years later I will be able to stay in touch with family and friends via text messaging and email. (I haven’t quite mastered Skype). I won’t have to worry about finding a phone and wondering how it works or communicating with an operator that doesn’t speak English. I won’t have to worry about mistaking a red garbage receptacle for a mailbox when posting postcards although I may still send postcards.
20 years later, I will once again be able to sit in a piazza in Rome or Florence or Venice and enjoy a coffee and a cornetto, or pizza or pasta and a glass of wine while watching the people around me living their lives. 20 years later, I can once again enjoy the art and architecture that has been around for hundreds of years. Seven more sleeps!