Let’s be honest, traveling can and will be both a joy and a stress. Some days we will experience both heaven and hell. And it feels bittersweet. You’re on a beach, enjoying the view and a cocktail and the next you’re running to the pharmacy to find pills to ease a stomach bug. I’ve found on every trip, especially the less comfortable ones, I must take the good with the bad. These two are partners while traveling, so you’ve got to get used to it.
Aldous Huxley, the 20th century English writer and philosopher put it perfectly. Travel demands the traveller’s time, money, energy and comfort.
“For the born traveller, travelling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim’s time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort.” – Aldous Huxley
Embrace the challenges
When we’re traveling, particularly through places that are developing, things can and will go wrong. Our dreams and fantasies of a perfect holiday all of sudden begin to feel like a wash, and it’s not fun anymore. If you’ve ever traveled anywhere in Asia, Africa or South America you know what I mean.
An evening in Mui Né, a fishing village on the southern coast of Vietnam, I experienced what felt like an overwhelming circumstance. I was out for lobster. The view was stunning with the fishing village below me. After a fabulous meal, I went to pay. I thought I could use my card, perhaps naively receiving confirmation as I entered the establishment. The manager said, “cash only” in his broken English. I spent the next hour trying to get cash from machines, but none would accept my card. I ended up borrowing from one of the guys at the hotel. I spent a large part of the evening on the phone with my bank trying to figure out what was going on. Eventually I discovered, through trial and error that my card only worked at a few, secure locations. A revelation that would make the rest of my trip much easier.
Find the good stuff
When traveling there are some things that make the stresses and challenges worth while. When I travel, I focus on these three things to make it the best experience possible:
- Food. Well, not much to say here other than, the food is what fills your belly and your dreams. Step outside of your comfort zone, and try some new grub (pun intended).
- Culture. It’s on the streets, it’s in the air. It’s the smells, the sounds, the food, the smells, the sites and the people. The more uncomfortable you might feel, the richer the culture probably is.
- People. An essential ingredient for any great trip. If you don’t have the people in the equation you don’t have much of an experience. Your interactions are lasting with locals and tourists.
Traveling is a big outdoor classroom. You learn the local language, cuisine, customs, to navigate challenging situations. But whilst exploring we often tend to miss the big things. We fail to consider the situations in the cities, towns and villages. When visiting developing countries, there are times I am completely oblivious to people’s circumstances. Maybe that lady that wanted $3 instead of the $2 you thought it would cost for the meal so she could feed her family, whose father was injured from a work related injury. Yes, we need to be more mindful, and aware of our environments, the history and the current state whilst traveling. Travel will change you. It helps you realize how small your place is in the world.
So travel more
There’s always more to learn about this big beautiful world. The best adventures are like cooking a hearty soup. It takes time and effort to pick out the right ingredients, chop everything up and mix it all together. But the result is just muah! Traveling is the same. It takes the right ingredients. When we add all the right things such as mindfulness and optimism, and omit the wrong things like fear and narrow mindedness it can truly be most excellent. We then are able to truly appreciate things.
So get out there! Travel like your life depended on it. It’s not about the trip, it’s about seeing the world differently than you do now! Make it your mission to broaden your world view, and explore the places that make you feel uncomfortable. Because you never know what you might discover (or might miss out on). Happy travels!
One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. -Henry Miller