I get asked this question a lot. Not just since I moved here for nine months a year. Even when I came for one to two months each year, I was always surprised that people were puzzled, especially since I travel alone, with what I would do with myself each day, .
And yet, the question still surprises me. When I travel I love to settle in, make myself at home and feel like a resident, even when I visit some place for a week. Of course, if I only have a week somewhere I usually spend a lot more of my time exploring new places each day than I do when I have an extended amount of time in one place.
On trips as short as three days, I have a definite ‘nesting’ routine. I find the closest neighborhood grocery. I unpack EVERYTHING from my suitcase. Most often I rent small places from owners when traveling. However, when in a hotel for at least three nights I still nest!
So, my answer to this question, especially when I am some place for more than a week, is that my routine is much like it is at home. I shop for groceries, engage in social media exchange, go for long walks, read, do laundry, etc, etc, etc.
I do spend more time than at home exploring the world around me, learning new things, meeting new people.
Now that I am in my own version of paradise for a full nine months, I find that I am struggling with the balance of my day to day activities a bit more. When home, besides the normal business of everyday life, I do some travel writing for publication, work part time as a travel writing editor, and research my family history and blog about it (www.cherokeerootsblog.com). Usually when traveling I do less research and writing and spend more time on those things when I get back home.
So my struggle…I pictured that once I was in Portugal almost full time my schedule would look more like it does at home, with the addition of finally putting pen to paper on two books that are reminding me every day that they are waiting for their stories to be told.
I have my daily to do list where I check off items each day, and move others forward to another day when I do not complete all of the tasks that I have set for myself. However, I find that I spend way more time at my new home, expanding my breakfast time on the patio from the 20 minutes it is in the U.S. to one to two hours of tea and reading thrown in. How do you walk away from the patio when almost every day is full of sun and sea views!
At home I walk four miles per day almost every day. I do the same here breaking my walks in to two or three walks per day along the oceanside promenade and through the village.
Yesterday was a good example of how a walk on a cold, but sunny, day made it very difficult to go back to my condo and start on my to do list.
And then the day before, I was taking what I planned to be a 30 minute walk before digging into some research on my computer. Noticing that a cafe that had been closed for a few weeks had reopened, and having as always a book in my backpack, I sat down for a traditional Caipirinha and read for an hour!
Cleary, I am still working on the right balance for me, well, for the two of me. For there are two of me for sure. One is ready at 72, to run full speed into a relaxed retirement and do nothing but read, watch good films, sit in the sun or take a walk whenever the mood strikes. Oh…but that other me…the one who feels driven by the realization that there are only so many days left in this life and so much still to accomplish. So many things that I do not want to leave undone.
And there is the answer to the question, what do I do all day. I am at peace, I fret, I am relaxed, I am driven. I am, and I do, exactly as elsewhere, fill each day to its fullest and yet long for more.