There are no right or wrong ways to do anything, particularly when it comes to different approaches to travel.
This is only my second overseas trip in four and half years. This journey was heavily informed by my first solo trip, to the United States in early 2010. Though I consider myself an inexperienced traveller, I've long looked down on many other ways people take holidays. For instance, I've never really understood the idea of travelling overseas to relax. This is clearly related to my hang-ups regarding luxury and indulgence and my ever-present working-class chip on my shoulder.
My platonic ideal of travelling goes something like this. Accommodation is in dormitories, with larger being generally better. Travelling alone, I need to be around other people and almost be forced to interact with them. For me, hostels are the best way to make this happen. When I stayed in hotels on the West Coast of the United States, I was pretty miserable. When I got to hostels on the East Coast, I had the time of my life.
My days are filled with sightseeing. I'll develop a rough list of things to do and hit them one-by-one. Sometimes I'll find someone to tag along with on a day trip but if not, I'm going anyway. I haven't done long trips so I fee like I don't have time to waste. Who knows if I'll ever be back to these places. In a way, these trips are like work to me, but a different kind of work to when I'm at home: cultural work, humanist work, personal work.
Nights are for meeting other travellers, drinking and talking bullshit. I get a lot of enjoyment and enlightenment from these moments. It is fascinating to know why people are travelling, what it's like to live in different countries or what they do when they aren't on the road. These spontaneous meetings can stay with you for years.
Going with back-to-back-to-back sightseeing and night-drinking is great, and it's what I've chosen. But boy, it wears you down. Two mild hangovers combined with Bangkok's oppressive humidity made my last couple of days of solo sightseeing a little challenging. Poor me, I know. Today I'm on a twelve-hour train journey to Chiang Mai, and it is just what I needed.
I don't think I'll be going on week-long beach holidays anytime soon, but there's something to this idea that I might need a day every now and then to decompress, do laundry and make plans. If I squeeze in a couple of hours for lunch and beers, that's probably better. So here's to taking a day off while I'm taking days off.