Did we follow our travel guidelines from July 2011?

About one year ago, we were finishing up work on our condo, interviewing agents, and preparing to list the place. We were still unsure whether our trip would ever get off the ground — it all depended on our condo sale and the market didn’t look too great for condos in Chicago. We were prepared for a long wait, but as we all now know, we ended up getting wildly lucky and selling within five weeks. And now our condo is a distant memory.

At the same time, we also brainstormed some travel guidelines. We thought we needed some kind of structure to keep us from going crazy. It was hard to picture how we’d live when we left behind everything we’d known, all our habits and daily rituals. We were trying to impose some kind of order on a life that would be disordered.

So how did we do? Lisa W. recently asked us how we’d fared in following our travel guidelines, and we thought it’d be entertaining to look back at our guidelines from July 2011 to find out what we’ve followed and what we’ve forgotten.

Shower at least every other day.  Preferably every day.  Actual shower conditions are unimportant – can be $1 truck stop shower, quarter operated national park shower, solar heated bag shower, plush hotel shower.  Basic requirement: water in which to bathe.

Failed. In the past four weeks, we’ve taken maybe six showers. In the south and east, we had access to showers at every campground, but people treat camping differently in the west. It’s harder to find showers. But I also care less. I used to get crabby on day three of no showers. Now I can make it to day four or five before the crabbiness sets in. It really is true that your body adapts and you can stay tolerably clean with the variety of wipes out there. To a point. I’m not going to see what happens after a week or two. Five days is the max.

Eat well and healthfully.  Cook healthy and tasty foods and keep packaged foods to a minimum.  Fast food will be a rare treat.  A complicated part of this guideline is that I really want to have yogurt for breakfast every morning.  This is strangely important to me.

We eat really well most days but splurge on fast food treats regularly. Despite this, we’ve both managed to lose weight. We’re just more active than ever. And I haven’t eaten yogurt in months. We eat lots of fruits, veggies, pasta, beans, soup, chili, rice, nuts (mainly in the form of peanut butter), cheese, and whole grains. And lots of cheeseburgers.

Sleep well.  That bed had better be as comfortable as we can make it.

After some adjustment, our bed is pretty comfortable. I’m finally sleeping as much as I need to — we regularly sleep 8, 9, 10, even 12 hours a night. It’s fabulous.

Do anything either one of us wants to do.  If Paul wants to stop at the Corn Palace, we will stop at the Corn Palace.  If I want to go to the Mormon thrift store, then damn it, I am going to the Mormon thrift store.  We won’t have anywhere to be, so we should be wherever we want.  We’ve got all the time in the world.

We realized early on that we don’t have all the time in the world! We’re having to cut things out of the schedule now, but this isn’t the last trip we’ll ever take.

Cocktail hour is every night at 5pm (travel permitting).  Some sort of regular, daily schedule is necessary.  Cocktail hour involves the appropriate glasses, ice, a cocktail shaker, and skirting interstate open container laws.

Hmm. This doesn’t really work, but we’ve been faithful to our mission of finding the best boxed wine and cheap whiskey out there. And we’ve had a fun time figuring out local liquor laws. Also, we never have ice. And we didn’t pack the cocktail shaker. And we have one kind of glass: a fifty cent plastic tumbler from Walmart.

Be productive.  Learn as much as possible.  Blog as much as possible.

I think we’re doing pretty well on this one. Though we aren’t going to be able to learn both French and Spanish like I thought we would.

Talk to people.  Don’t rely on the Google to tell us where to find the laundromat or farmer’s market or grocery store.

Here’s the problem with the Google: it’s not always right. Here’s the problem with talking to people: they’re not always right. We bumble around and manage, but I dread chore days and navigating unfamiliar cities under pressure. We always enjoy a place more if we’re able to talk to someone who lives or has lived there and can point us in the right direction. Then there’s also the serendipity of stumbling across the perfect bar, bookstore, cheeseburger, or trail.

Schedule alone time.  No matter how much you like and love someone, 24 hours a day every day will soon become too much.

Actually, 24 hours a day isn’t too bad. We maybe get sick of each other for five minutes every once in awhile, but after a few minutes apart (or just not looking at each other) it’s back to normal. Spending so much time together has been great.

Looking back now, these “guidelines” just make me laugh. Overall, we’ve grown much more flexible and laid back. Though, if possible, I hate rainy, cloudy days and being cold even more than before.