Hey guys! I haven’t forgotten about you! I’m just getting organized and sorting out photos. Over the next few months, expect consistent blog posts dedicated to each city I visited in my recent Eurotrip. In the meantime, I wanted to talk about something else.
What’s the reason for your travel? Do you want to prove something to the world? Do you just want to say you did it? Are you running away from something, or trying to get delay dealing with a big life change? I hope not. Don’t travel (or do anything, really) for validation. Find confidence within yourself instead of trying to draw it from external sources. Travel for the sake of traveling, not for the ability to say “I did it”. This applies to everything you do on your trip… Do it to do it, not to say that you did it. Live in the present. And if you think that running away for a while will help you come back and deal with reality, you’re wrong. Reality will be waiting for you in the same state as before, if not worse. Would you leave a burning house in the hopes that the fire is gone and the house undamaged by the time you return? No. So don’t do that to your problems, either. Your burning house will still be there at the end of your trip. The only thing that’s changed is you and your perhaps tanner skin and unrealistic hope that things have magically solved themselves while you were away.
What was my reason? I wrote about this more extensively in past blog entries. My reason for travel (aside from food) was for personal growth. I wanted to leave my comfort zone and push myself to do things that I normally would not.
My 10.5 week trip taught me a lot. For example, I don’t care so much for getting along with the entire world. I used to be the kind of person who says yes to anything. If I was bored sitting at home and somebody asks to hang out, I would’ve said yes. Now, definitely not. I would rather be a potato in a cafe alone all day rather than hang out with somebody who is anything less than a friend/role model who adds value to my life. By “value” I don’t mean superficial value, but I mean it more in the sense that this person inspires me, encourages growth, and/or has had some role in my past/present life to the extent that they will always have a place in my heart/brain. People typically know upon first meeting someone (or maybe the 2nd time meeting each other) whether there is some sort of connection. If it’s not there, I’d rather not waste my (nor their) time forcing a new friendship. I’m pretty happy with the people in my life, you know?
My trip also reiterated a lot of things that life teaches you over and over again. For me, these things include (but is not limited to):
- Communication is key. Just as we should never expect our partners/friends to just know what to do, we should never expect a stranger to know what you consider to be “common sense” and treat you accordingly… especially while you travel! First of all, everybody is different. They might treat you a certain way because that’s what worked for them with the last person or because that’s how they’d want to be treated if they were in your position. If you hate it, say so (in a civilized manner). This is beneficial for both parties. Second, cultures vary widely. You can’t go to a new country and expect people to accommodate to your standards. You’re on their grounds. Be respectful of that.
- We see what we want to see. Be open-minded. If we go into the trip expecting a certain thing or looking for a certain thing, we will be prone to finding the things we’re searching for (subconsciously). Our bias has the capacity to greatly skew our experience. Let’s say your favourite place is San Francisco and you go into a new trip looking for all the things that San Francisco had – and more. You might be overlooking all the other wonderful things that are unique to that trip. Just go into it looking for happiness and new experiences. You might be surprised how so many different cities/countries can make you happy in so many different ways. Maybe it’s the sights in one city, the history in another, the food in another, etc. When I asked travelers “what is your favourite place so far?“, many people told me they don’t have one because the cities are so different that they are not even comparable (side note: why don’t we hear this answer being said more often for relationships?!).
It’s interesting to see that the same general rules apply to so many aspects of our lives even outside of travel. Traveling simply helps us discover – and rediscover – these lessons.
So what do you really want to get out of your trip?