Wake up. Shower. Brush teeth. Dress. Open the shades so the plant can get some light. Forget breakfast til I get to work. Dash down stairs because I’m always five minutes late.
We all follow various routines in our lives. The morning routine, the bedtime routine, the weekend routine (mine: Sleep in. Eat. Repeat.). Even the most laid-back person has something that needs to be done in a certain way in order for it to seem properly done. Routines order our days and keep us properly fed and in moderately good hygiene.
Of course, there’s the flip side. Much ink is spilled on the dullness of routines and our need to escape from their tyrannical reign over our lives. Do something new today! Take a different route to work! Plan a vacation away from it all! Vacations are the number one way to get out of your usual routine, and it’s usually a welcome relief. Most people make my weekend routine the decadent new norm, and I make my weekend routine a weeklong adventure in sloth, sprinkled with a few novels. It is a glorious time of shaking off the usual daily experiences.
But on longer trips (like, say, a trip around the world), routines are vital. If I’m going to be in a new bed every few nights, and a new country every few weeks, I’ll need some things to stay the same in order to stay sane and centered. I know many people who always do the same thing at every new city they visit: drop off their things at the hostel/hotel, walk around the neighborhood, and then eat dinner at a local restaurant before an early bed. This establishes them in their new surroundings before they run off in all directions having adventures.
Routines while traveling are also crucial to keeping your things with you. Say you use a computer at an Internet café to upload your photos, and you also chat with your mom on Skype and your friends on Gchat, and then whoops, time’s up on your Internet connection, so you have to dash. Only later do you realize you left your camera’s memory card in that computer. It seems silly and a small thing to focus on, but if you have an item that’s of value to you, attach a routine to it while you’re traveling. For example, if I’m uploading photos, as soon as they’re uploaded, I remove my memory card and put it back in the camera, and then put my camera back in its bag. Then I can carry on with editing photos and hearing the latest office gossip, secure in the knowledge that my memory card is safe and I can take more pictures tomorrow.
Do you have routines specific to traveling, or do they all go out the window the moment you leave town? Do you find any reassurance or guidance in routines, or do you find them stifling?