To me, traveling is like writing your own adventure story. Journeys are often wild and unpredictable, with the only assurance being that we will come out changed.
Although I would not yet classify myself as an experienced traveler, I can start to see some habits emerge that make up my own traveling style. While these may not be for everyone, traveling in this way has helped me to discover hidden corners of the world with an adventurous attitude and a fresh sense of wonder.
- TRAVEL LIGHT- We never need as many things as we think we do. When I travel, I try to take just a tall backpack, even for multiple weeks. The saying goes that you should lay out everything you think you need, then take twice the money and half the clothes. While I can’t double my budget, I can minimize the clothes I need by taking just a couple of outfits to mix and match. Traveling light is great for moving between multiple cities or countries. I feel so much more unencumbered and free when I can carry everything I need (especially when tackling steps or running to catch a train) instead of lugging a bulky suitcase.
- JOURNAL- Life is passing you by. Record everything and write every day about your experiences, thoughts, and reactions to what you see. There will be days when activities are packed in from dawn to dusk, but if you’re taking trains, buses, or planes between places on your journey, use the downtime to write. You’ll be able to remember the adventure so much more clearly years later. I enjoy buying postcards to tape into my journal as illustrations for the adventure story I’m recording. At the end of the trip, it makes a priceless souvenir.
- EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL- Attitude is everything. There are always unexpected hiccups in travel, and it can be easy to let inconveniences overshadow the positive. Let it go. Approach each place with a sense of wonder and expectation–it’s yours to explore. Seek out the beauty and carry it with you.
- ENGAGE- I am an introvert. Talking to new people in unfamiliar situations does not come naturally to me. However, I quickly found out that traveling is worth little unless you engage with the people and the culture. My old travel partner V was a natural in this area. She wasn’t afraid to talk to people, ask questions, or try new things. We learned a lot through engaging with people rather than simply passing through foreign cities like ghosts.
- BE A VAGABOND- Again, this may not be for everyone. For me, where I sleep is much less important than where I am. I recognize that this may change as I get older, but in the meantime, I don’t feel any need to spend excessive amounts of money on ritzy hotels when there are plenty of cheaper options that will allow a traveler to engage with people more effectively. My attitude is that the money I save can be used to travel farther than I would have otherwise.
- KNOW A PLACE AS YOU WOULD A PERSON- When you meet someone for the first time, there are immediate characteristics that you notice. Even so, you wouldn’t dare say that you know someone well after spending an hour with them. There is so much more beneath the surface. Places take time to get to know fully. It’s worth wandering off the beaten path to get a more complete picture. And even after living somewhere for a few years, there is still something that will surprise you.
Travelers, are there any tips you have that contribute to your own traveling style? Please share them with us! Here’s hoping that 2014 brings us fresh perspective and greater horizons to sail. ¡Buen viaje!
Personal Photo, Interior of La Mezquita, Córdoba, Spain