On this tiny archipelago island, there are berries, boys, and bikes a plenty - and a few goats too!
There are precisely six goats on the Swedish archipelago island of Utö and as far as Charlotte Schröder is concerned, that's more than enough. Goats are one of the few things in the natural world by which she can't abide. The parrots her daughter breeds are another. ("They sounds like a car alarm!") But when it comes to the people of Utö (there are 223 full time residents) or the dogs (47 - Charlotte acts as the veterinarian's nurse during their quarterly visits), she knows and loves them all. Or nearly so!
As an authorized archipelago guide, riding school owner, wedding officiant (and don't forget, veterinary nurse), there's not much that happens on Utö that escapes Charlotte's eye and in my opinion, the tours are the better for it. Charlotte provides the perfect introduction to the island, one of the southernmost in Stockholm's archipelago chain and, as one of the hundreds of thousands who visit Utö each year, I was one of the lucky ones to have Charlotte as my guide.
Some trips start at a snail's pace - but Edmundston let me take my time.
Aviator Anne Lindburgh once said that the final moments before you leave for a trip are horrible. Once you get going, you’re fine but until you do it’s absolutely dreadful, like a snail being pulled off its rock.
I know exactly how she felt. The morning we departed for Edmundston, a mantra of “I’m a snail, I’m a snail, I’m a snail” kept playing in my head. I did NOT want to leave my rock.
Edumundston was the first stop in our epic 5 week, pan Canadian/European adventure. It’s the longest trip we’ve ever undertaken and, against a backdrop of some personal upheaval, I was the world’s most reluctant snail, being plucked off the rock and tossed in the car with most serious reservations. What on earth was I doing and why on earth was I going on the road when I had a perfectly acceptable rock right at home?
Fortunately, Edmundston understood. This northern New Brunswick city has been a traditional stopping point for us on all our eastern Canada roadtrips but until recently it had never represented much more to us than a convenient junction for fuel and food. But it somehow felt wrong to be continually visiting a city and never being able to recommend anything beyond the nearest Tim Horton’s location. It was time for this snail to blaze a trail (metaphorically, of course. I’m not slimy in real life!) Here are our favourite picks for the best saves, splurges, and steals in the city.
In Malawi I had my first battle with travel burnout. It wouldn't be my last.
Lying under a bed net in Malawi's sweltering heat with a cold, wet towel on my bare stomach, my face was a mess of tears. The silent air conditioner served only ornamental purposes. In the darkness its knobs became eyes, watching my every move, my futile efforts to cool down, taking pleasure as I winced whenever one of the tiny, pink, pus filled blisters that covered my body - compliments of a whopping case of prickly heat - spontaneously burst.
It was over 10 years ago, but I'll never forget my worst day of travel burnout - a horrible combination of homesickness, culture shock, and sheer exhaustion. And pus. Lots of pus.
People often sneer when they hear the words 'travel burnout' and offer disparaging comments such as "Must be soooooo hard to be traveling all the time" or "Poor you, with your first world problems". But the truth is that anyone can experience burnout from any activity or circumstance.
No person is fully immune from feeling lonely, overwhelmed, frustrated, or isolated. And unlike burnout from work, family stress, or a stalled creative project, travel burnout comes with geographic, cultural, and linguistic isolation which even the most optimistic traveler would find difficult to cope with. You are separated from your support system, you lack control over your environment, and you may even face a serious conflict in your values and ethics.
I suspect that fast paced trips are even more susceptible to burnout than a slower style of travel. City hopping can be exhilarating but also overwhelming. The excitement of a new hotel each night doesn't always mask the loss of community; the sense of place that comes when you stay in the same neighbourhood for a few days. With more extremely fast paced travel planed, I'm trying to learn from the past and prepare for a balanced, healthy, happy trip. Here's are my top three tips for keeping sane on the road.