Travel used to be a big deal. We must remember that while we live in a more technologically advanced society; our bodies have yet to adapt to what is commonplace for most people in developed nations.
I recently took a trip from Baltimore to Atlanta (720 miles), then from Atlanta to Las Vegas (2,029 miles), and finally from Vegas back to Baltimore (2,623 miles).
Flight and drive time, to and from the airport, equalled about:
3 Hours - Baltimore to Atlanta
5 Hours - Atlanta to Vegas
5 Hours - Vegas to Baltimore
That is a grand total of thirteen hours of time in transit, covering a distance of 5,327 miles.
If I traveled by stage coach, I would have spent ten days just getting from Baltimore to Atlanta! It would take seventy six days to complete the entire trip! That is 20% of an entire year; assuming, of course, that I had good weather, experienced no breakdowns, and no one got dysentery.
I could make this trip 140 different times in the same amount of time today!
This also assumes that I have my own stage coach. Which would be the modern-day equivalent of having my own jet. What was it like traveling on Southwest’s stage coach in 1878? I will let the poet Helen Hunt Jackson in her delightfully titled book, “Bits of Travel at Home”, take over for me:
The public coaches are here, as everywhere, uncomfortable, overloaded, inexorable. I know of no surer way to rob a journey of all its finest pleasures, than to commit one's self to one of these vehicles. It means being obliged to get up at hours your abhor, to sit close to people you dislike, to eat when you are not hungry, to go slowest when there is nothing to see and fastest when you would gladly linger for hours, to be drenched with rain, choked with dust, and never have a chance to pick a flower. It means misery.
We like to think that because we can get to places faster, our bodies and our minds meet us in a new location just as quickly. This is untrue.
Affluent travelers back in the day would retire to the guest room or guest house, where they would relax and recover. The word “retire” comes from the French “retiré,” which means “drawn back,” and it describes in ballet, “a movement in which one leg is bent and raised at right angles to the body until the toe is in line with the knee of the supporting leg.” Therefore, to retire, is to draw back, and align your body and mind.
Taking time to put myself back in line, and at the best angles for long-term support, is something I started doing only very recently after traveling. Here is a look at the self-care I performed yesterday after getting back to my apartment:
Drink a tall glass of water.
Put on very comfortable clothes.
Ice cream (I enjoy coffee-flavored)
Hot bubble bath
I made the entire day about myself (also about my cat Jules), and as I write this morning I feel supported, mentally clear, and ready to embark on my normal day-to-day activities.
Do not allow the ease with which you can travel today blind you to the fact that you transported yourself to a new environment in a speed that was unfathomable to your great-great-great-great grandparents. My office is about twenty miles from where I live. My commute is an average of thirty minutes by car. If I took a stage coach to work, it would take about 3.5 hours. One-way!
Your body and your mind knows that you traveled. Take a few moments before you get out of your car at your office, or back home later today, and close your eyes.
Rest for a while.