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My first big travel was last year, when we spent the summer in the UK. One of our adventures took us to Ireland. Enjoy my photos 🙂
It’s Not The End Of The World If You Don’t Travel Really, it’s no big deal. Even if travel is the only thing you can think about, the only goal that you truly want to achieve in life, if you don’t travel, if you don’t actually succeed, again, it’s no big deal. The truth is, some will travel, and some won’t. Life gets in the way for many and despite a strong desire to hit the road and venture off to those dreamed-about lands, it sometimes just doesn’t happen. I am often asked what is the single greatest lesson I have learned from my travels and I always give the same answer: “The overwhelming majority of people on this planet are good people who just want to live a simple, happy life without enemies, without hatred, without war, with enough money to provide for their loved ones and to spend time with their friends, regardless of where in the world they live, what religion they practice, how much money they have or anything else.” However, despite the fact that I am always so quick to choose that lesson as the most important, there is also another lesson I’ve learned that definitely comes in a close second place. And the lesson is this: “It doesn’t matter what you do in life. If you have the right attitude, you can find the fulfillment and happiness you desire, we all desire, in almost anything.” And yes, this is true even if travel is your major goal and for one reason or another, it doesn’t happen. I really do believe that it’s all about our attitude. It’s all about our attitude towards the experiences we do have and the people we do meet and the places we do end up. It’s all about our attitude when we wake up in the morning and before we go to sleep, while we eat, hang out with friends, walk down the street and go to the market. We can all inject positivity into our lives, no matter what we are doing. Perhaps some meditation or exercise or reading or going to a nearby town every few days to try and discover new things. We can find activities that make us happy. We can find people that make us happy to be around as well. In fact, this can happen quite easily these days with websites that facilitate meet-ups all over the world based on every interest imaginable. The right people, the right activities, the right experiences are right there in front of us at all times, no matter where we may be or what we may be doing, and with the proper attitude, we can take advantage of them all. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I just stopped traveling right now, moved to a random town and changed my life completely to that of a more normal routine. At first, that thought gives me a feeling of unease, of dread perhaps, that I would be unhappily plodding my way through such an existence. But the more time passes, and the more I dwell on this idea and endless others, I realize that this wouldn’t be the case at all. My travels have taught me to face the world with a positive attitude, not only the world in general, but every single minute, every single interaction, possibility, experience and moment. They don’t all turn out positively in the end of course, but by facing the world with a positive attitude, I feel that I can not only handle whatever comes my way, but I can squeeze enough joy and happiness out of each day, and in turn, out of any kind of lifestyle, to make sure that my life is something I love living. To break it down even further, I’ve also realized that I can’t say such things as, “it doesn’t matter where I travel at all because I can always find experiences and people in every corner of the world that can turn any destination into a rewarding one” and not apply that very same theory to every other potential lifestyle. If that’s how I feel about travel, then that’s how I should feel about living in one place, having a set routine and basically, living a lifestyle that does not include much, or any, travel at all. It’s the positive attitude, not the destinations themselves, that leads to memorable, positive travel experiences. Therefore, it must follow that it’s the positive attitude, not the lifestyle, that leads to a memorable, positive life. Try it out. Walk down the street with a smile, saying hello to strangers. Go to work ready to turn any mundane task into a challenge, ready to work efficiently so that you have free time to spend on activities you enjoy more. Expect to learn each day and the chances are high that you will. Expect to laugh, to be inspired and to feel alive, and laugh, be inspired and feel alive you shall. The point is, if you expect to have a brilliant day no matter what you do or where you are, you’ll quickly understand how powerful that expectation can be. And this holds true even if you haven’t been able to achieve your goal of travel, or any other goal you’ve set for yourself, quite yet.
How Five Minutes of Meditation Makes Me A Better Traveler Ah, meditation. Legs crossed, hands placed ever so gently on the knees, back straight, baggy cotton clothes flowing perfectly and alas, the look of pure zen on the face. Well, what if I told you that I meditate sitting down in a chair or lying on my bed, wearing jeans and a t-shirt at times, hands on my stomach or by my side or perhaps behind my head, legs laid out however they end up being laid out. The look on my face? I can’t exactly see it myself, but I doubt it’s a look of pure zen. I’m sure it’s more like a peaceful, yet disorganized, protest against a never-ending onslaught of absurd thoughts such as ‘when is the last time I’ve had some hot apple cider?’ and ‘what if a q-tip got stuck in my ear while I was eating Oreo cookies?’ and ‘I like the word reciprocate, but not as much as the word yogurt’ that take a long time for me to remove from my mind. Sure, I’ve attended two 10-day, silent Vipassana meditation retreats over the years, and I took them both very seriously, and they both brought tremendous benefit to my life, but I don’t practice that kind of dedicated meditation too often. All I know is that I do feel the need to drift away from the noise of life from time to time, to close my eyes for just a few minutes, to try and force all thoughts out of my head and to concentrate only on the light breaths that pass through my nose. You could argue that this is or isn’t meditation but that’s not an argument for me. I could care less what it is. I enjoy doing it and it helps me move through life.
The most important travel rule? LOOK UP. We should always look up at the world around us. We’ll miss too much if we don’t. And by ‘look up’, I mean really try to notice as many things and as many people as we can, no matter where we are or what we’re doing. When we’re walking down the street, sitting in a restaurant, waiting at the bus station…look up. When we’re feeling frustrated or lonely, when we’re lost and unsure what to do or where to go…look up. If we always remember to just look up, to look all around, to notice what is in front of us, what is off to the side, what is off in the distance, everything that makes travel so great will multiply right before our eyes. When we look up, we see the store fronts, the architecture, the bicyclists, the fruit stalls, the political posters, the flower shops, the long lines at the pharmacies, the graffiti, the snacks people eat, the local fashion, the pace of life. We see the smiling faces, the curious people, the potential for connection with those around us. We can’t meet many people by looking down. By noticing everything around us, we gain a deeper understanding of every destination we visit. And at times, often when we least expect it of course, we might even see something so interesting or breathtaking or perhaps life-changing, that the experience will stay with us forever. Kind of like my surreal sunrise in Rishikesh. So let’s look up, always look up. Yes, even when we’re on the toilet, or a potted plant if that’s all we can find.
Should You Start Traveling Now or Later? I wouldn’t dare tell anyone else to just drop everything right this instant and pack your bag. There are too many unique aspects involved for each of us, which is why the debate of when to start our travels is one that we each need to have with ourselves. It’s the only way to reach the most suitable conclusion or to at least make some progress, or at the very least waste some time thinking about travel. What I would dare tell you is that you should consider several specific factors that might help give you a better idea of your situation and ultimately, help you answer that question of when you should finally start your adventure. Confidence – Are you confident in your ability to make anything happen? Will you be able to do whatever it takes to find a way to earn money if you need to? Are you the kind of person that won’t let anything stand in the way of your goals? Ideal Savings – Would you be significantly more comfortable with the idea of travel if you had an extra $1000, $2000 or maybe $5000 in your bank account? What is your financial goal? Are you almost there? Is there a chance that you’ll always want more to the point where it stops you from ever leaving? Work Opportunities – What kind of work, if necessary, would you be interested in while traveling? Is that work easy to obtain based on your skills, background, connections, etc. or will it take significant effort and creativity to make it happen? Are there opportunities to earn money in the places you’ll be at about the time your money might start to run out? Travel Style – Do you plan to be a budget traveler? How much comfort will you want? What kind of travel style will suit you best and how much will it cost to maintain that style? Just because ultra-budget travel costs much less doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy staying in the cheapest hostel dorm rooms, eating very simply and taking the least expensive modes of transportation everywhere. And it’s perfectly ok if that’s not for you. It’s not for everyone. Figure out what is for you and you’ll have a better understanding of how much money you’ll need to make it happen. Sociability – How social are you? Do you need more practice connecting with random people you come across? Or do you already have the ability to start yakking away to those you meet in cafes, in elevators, at the roulette table, on the bus? You don’t have to be a socialite but the more comfortable you are around new people, the easier it will be to interact with other travelers and locals that you encounter during your travels, to make new friends, to discover new opportunities. An Endless Wait – Maybe there will never be a perfect time to break away and start traveling. Will something always come up to keep you at home? What if you wait another 2 years and you end up even more entrenched in your current job and lifestyle that it will be almost impossible to leave, even if you have saved more money? Is that a possibility and if so, how do you feel about that? Torture – Can you wait 2 or 3 or 5 more years or are you so insanely ready to get out into the world that the thought of spending more time at home is starting to affect your life in a real negative way? If you can’t wait to leave, you need to figure things out more quickly before the frustration takes more of a toll. It just may be time to book a flight and jump into the unknown as soon as you can. Again, it’s not easy. It’s downright hard to figure this out, I know. But you need to start somewhere because nobody else can tell you what to do. Whether you start traveling now, later or even never, it really is all up to you. Just gather your thoughts, think about the above and make a plan, a plan that really feels good, or as good as possible, given your particular circumstances and goals. Then do everything in your power to stick to that plan no matter what. I’ll be waiting to hear your story whenever the time is right. See you when you get here! Have you faced this dilemma? How did you handle it? Are you still trying to figure out when to start traveling?
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