Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.Andre Gide
I’ve been thinking about travel more than usual lately. This past year has me, and probably all travel lovers, wishing for the day when we can safely travel wherever we want without the risk of infecting someone or getting sick ourselves. While literally EVERYWHERE is on my list to visit, there are places that would mean more to me to visit. If traveling is something you want to try or already love doing, I challenge you to reassess your list.
Whenever I travel I always go see the “must-see” places that are in every travel magazine and blog, but there’s more to a destination than that. Travel might seem like a frivolous activity to some people and that’s okay. However, to me, it’s deeply personal and travel can be one of the most fulfilling experiences if you go about it from that perspective.
Below are just a few of the ways that I plan on making travel a little more special for me in the future, but I want everyone who reads this to get inspired to do the same and choose destinations, activities, and specific sites to see that really speak to who you are in that moment.
It’s Going to Take a Lot of Time and Experimentation
Figuring out what you love, not just what everyone else wants to see or do or what the magazines say you HAVE to see takes time. It will also change throughout your life. Before moving to England, I had very little desire to see my own country. After having my English friends tell me that I had seen more of their own country after a year than they had in their lifetimes it made me reassess. There are TONS of destinations in the USA I want to experience and the travel restrictions for international travel have made me make those a priority.
You won’t know what you like and don’t like until you try it. Keep traveling. Keep experimenting. Keep searching for whatever it is that makes travel magical for you. It shouldn’t just be a way to get out of work and responsibilities. It should, in my opinion, be about making you as happy as possible. That takes time, but it’s worth it. You’ll have many, many more positive experiences if you start being honest and exploring in a way that truly inspires you.
Allow Yourself to Try New Things
Do you always say you hate looking at art in museums? Have you tried immersive art exhibits? What about taking an art class? Don’t think you’re up for crazy adventures? Redefine what an adventure is for yourself. You could go hiking, diving, walking to a new area of town where you’ve never been, or introduce yourself to a local. Hate sand in your toes? Have you tried pebble beaches?
It’s all about perspective. Instead of automatically saying no and limiting yourself, try new experiences. You can always find ways to make them into what is fun for you. Plus, if you’ve never tried it how can you know it’s not one of the best moments of your vacation? Start saying yes, but allow yourself some qualifiers to ensure you’re safe and experiencing it in a ways that’s right for you. Then, assess and see what you enjoyed and what you can possibly try in the future to make similar experiences even better. If you hate it, then you learned something along the way.
Being Anxious or Scared is Part of the Process
Whether you’re trying something new adventurous excursion or are visiting a city where you don’t speak the language, always remember that it’s okay to be anxious and even a little bit scared. If you stayed in your comfort zone you wouldn’t get very far in life. Take small steps towards whatever it is that you want to do, see, or experience. It doesn’t have to happen at once.
One trip can be about doing all of the touristy things and getting an appetizer with some exotic food you’re nervous to try. You don’t have to go from I’d like a smidge of adventure to let’s go skydiving today. Start small and notice what you like, what makes you feel alive, and how you can improve those feelings. Build slowly on that foundation and you’ll be planning the trips of your dreams every single time.
It’s Okay to Be Picky About Your Destination
Once you start to figure out what types of vacations and destinations you can start to get pickier. If you absolutely hate everything about massive cities, you don’t have to plan trips there. Try a smaller, more personable town and see if that is a great comprise, especially if you’re traveling with someone who lives for city travel. When you’re traveling on your own you get to be the boss and make every single decision to your heart’s content.
When you travel with a group, everyone needs to find a happy medium and spend time individually or in smaller groups doing things that are essential for them. Compromising in big groups just has to happen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend a day or two on your own seeing and doing things that you value the most.
Don’t Ever Forget How to Have Fun in Your Unique Way
What’s fun for me isn’t always fun for everyone else. One of the key parts of traveling with someone else is finding a way to make it meaningful for both of you and coordinating well so that can happen. I like to think of travel as a way to express yourself and to create an experience that is perfectly tailored to you. Will mishaps and setbacks happen? Of course. C’est la vie. That doesn’t mean you stop having fun in the best way you know how.
For me, fun used to be staying out late with friends in clubs. Today, I’m in bed at 10:30 if I’m not already passed out with my face in a book. Your definition of fun will change drastically depending on when and where you are in life and on the planet. Explore. Say yes. Have fun that speaks to you. Life is too short to do anything else.