State of the Savage: August 2011

by Keith Savage · 18 comments

White Sands in Shetland

I’m supposed to be writing this from my room at The Douglas Hotel in Brodick on the Isle of Arran. Instead, I’m writing it from my parents’ house just outside Milwaukee.

My flight yesterday was delayed by five hours, thereby killing any chance I’d have of making my connecting flight in Philadelphia en route to Glasgow.

My entire trip nearly came crashing down when the ticketing agents at U.S. Airways said they couldn’t get me out until Sunday. There was shallow breathing, dilated eyes, and the palpable sensation of perspiration seeping out of my pores. Then the agent said she could sneak me on their flight tomorrow (i.e., today). I exhaled, thankful that months of planning hadn’t just been thrown away like the personal effects left in a plane’s seatbacks.

So I lose a day and have to update rental car, ferry, and accommodation bookings. It could be worse; it could be better. Whatever it could be, it’s an important lesson for a person like me who sometimes clings to plans and routines like a lifevest bobbing in the waves of the sea. The trip that kicked off Traveling Savage, my journey to Argentina, is an anomaly, an out-of-my-comfort-zone dash to South America with little in the way of plans other than the earnest belief in letting the world take me where it may. Many people will tell you that is the best way to travel.

It’s not for me.

I questioned my purpose, felt lost, and was generally not as productive as I should have been. I’ve planned my subsequent trips to Scotland in detail: I book accommodations, ferries, trains, and appointments with places I want to write about. It’s fantastic in keeping me focused, but, ironically, I’m a worrier, logistically speaking. On the eve of a trip, I’m thinking about all the flights, trains, ferries, and cars I need to catch – especially when I travel solo. In a hilarious and ridiculous moment Monday night, I was pondering my route from Oban to Glasgow to drop off my rental car at the end of the trip.

Seems I can’t win, right? Maybe not. Much of the stress derives from “what ifs” – what if I miss that plane/train/ferry? Seeing my flight delayed irreconcilably yesterday was a reminder that, yes, of course, things will be alright and life will move on. And, perhaps, that I should have heeded the reviews I read of U.S. Airways and paid the extra $100 to fly on Continental.

Plans & Happenings

This month’s plans are relatively unchanged from July’s State of the Savage, so I’ll direct you there for the scoop. The happenings front has new movement, however. I’ve been thinking a lot about Traveling Savage’s future as I near my one-year anniversary free of the cubicle. Sarah recently showed me a TED talk from Simon Sinek about the golden circle. Please, go watch it. I had a hard time articulating why I do what I do.

After a couple of weeks marinating in my subconscious, I came up with “I travel and write to view the world artfully.” Sounds a bit cryptic, I know, so I’m still working on it. The idea is that in the rush of travel so much escapes me unless I step back, ruminate, and express the moment. It’s like sliding a lens of artistry between me and the experience (and harkens back to memory design). Specifically, I’m thinking of my vignettes and Picture This posts, and now I’m considering some kind of printed media that combines my photos and writing in similar ways. If I’m honest with myself, I think it’s these types of posts that set me apart from others in the field. The financial feasibility of such ideas is always murky though.

Thinking about the golden circle seems like a good idea for anyone pursuing their own entrepreneurial ventures. Why do you do what you do?

Parting Blow

Understanding your travel neuroses goes a long way to ensuring positive experiences. Do you have a travel neurosis, and have you come to terms with it?

KatherineNo Gravatar September 5, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Holy crap, I totally crafted an artist’s statement (my why) and it’s fucking awesome! Hadn’t even planned on doing it today.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 5, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Well done! Though you don’t need to rub it in πŸ˜‰


KatherineNo Gravatar September 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Mike and I have often experienced that feeling after something goes dreadfully wrong — the “oh, everything’s going to be ok” feeling. It’s funny you mention Simon Sinek’s TED talk as I was just thinking about my why today. It brought this memory back to me of when I was little and I wondered why most things were made so ugly. I remember feeling deeply saddened by it. Take concrete. How can so little aesthetic consideration go into the production of something that covers so much of our man-made world? How interesting and vibrant and beautiful would the world be if artists and designers were as valued as doctors, lawyers and engineers? Maybe I can pull my why out of that.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 5, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Generally aesthetics and industry work at cross purposes, or at least not in tandem, and industry is where the money’s at. That said, I agree with you. Ah, dreamers.


KatherineNo Gravatar September 5, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Yes they do, but why? And should they and can it be different? Would it be different if our values were different? Why are artists dismissively labelled as “dreamers” πŸ˜‰ rather than respectfully bestowed the title of “dreamer”?


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 5, 2011 at 5:25 PM

You’re asking the wrong person. Dreamers don’t answer these questions.


StephanieNo Gravatar September 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM

I am definitely a worrier when it comes to making flights/train/etc. On the not-infrequent occasions that my travel plans get fugged-up and I have to scramble to fix it, I always feel much more powerful when I overcome the problem and manage to keep moving. And ultimately, it adds to the experience (though usually only well-after the fact).


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 5, 2011 at 3:35 PM

My first inclination when confronted with adversity is to just say f*** it. Luckily, I tend to overthink so I generally do the right thing. I don’t think they add anything too positive to the experience πŸ˜‰


Andi of My Beautiful AdventuresNo Gravatar September 1, 2011 at 8:48 AM

For sure I have travel neurosis. From the second I book a trip the planning process completely consumes me! Having said that, the moment I arrive I’m completely open to plans changing. Craziness!


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 1, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Sounds like the perfect combo – lucky you!


JeanNo Gravatar August 31, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Simon Sinek’s talk was incredibly interesting. “What you do is the proof for what you believe.” Definitely thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing, Savage.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 1, 2011 at 5:25 AM

My pleasure πŸ™‚


NoraNo Gravatar August 31, 2011 at 5:17 PM

On a year+ trip in Asia, I caught myself saying “no” more than “yes”, and realized that the years of travel I’d logged previously had created a rather crusty “as a seasoned traveler I should know better” bit of armor that wasn’t allowing me to risk getting things wrong or look the fool while traveling. When I saw that, I started saying yes again (sometimes against my ‘better’ judgement) and travel got a lot more fun again! I love TED talks! As far as why I do what I do… I was spurred on by how my travel experience changed after a ski accident and knee surgery. I discovered that when you’re really out of shape, travel isn’t nearly as fun… So now I lead 4 week Travel Tune-Ups to help over 40s get fitter and more energized before they travel. I suppose what I do is an homage to a lifetime of awesome trips, as well as an ode to my belief in the ability of human beings to see their health in a new way through the lens of travel.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 1, 2011 at 5:27 AM

Awesome story, Nora. Sounds like you’ve got purpose clearly defined. Congrats on that.


Global Basecamps AliNo Gravatar August 31, 2011 at 12:16 PM

I am exactly the same way when traveling! Have to plan everything down to the last detail or I’m in a confused/panicked state. haha Just the way I like to travel.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 1, 2011 at 5:24 AM

So you don’t do well “winging it” either? Have any horror stories, Ali?


jenjenkNo Gravatar August 31, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Totally have a traveling neurosis [Type A, anal retentive planner…like literally, I plan meeting/events for a living.] Still haven’t resolved it yet, though! πŸ™


Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 1, 2011 at 5:24 AM

Same boat as me, then. When it goes smoothly, it’s fantastic though πŸ™‚


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