You probably found your way here because you want to travel for the first time, learn a few tips, or are in the midst of planning your next trip. When planning to travel, people ask me a cluster of the same questions. Travel is so expensive: how can I afford it? I have a job and/or school, and I don't have time; when do you find the time to go? I have no idea where to go, where should I travel? I have no one to travel with…did you really travel alone? I understand how people can become overwhelmed, but if you start small, planning can be fun and stress can be avoided.
Life is full of choices, but every choice has an opportunity cost. Make sure this trip is something you are able to do without having any negative side effects. Nonetheless, if you don't participate in travel, you could miss out on meeting a lifetime friend, or seeing something which inspires you to accomplish something you have always wanted to do. Value your time and use travel as a way to invest in yourself. I've flown in over 75 airplanes, seen over 25 countries, and met countless international friends. I’m here to supply you with some of the knowledge I have gathered throughout the years to make sure your experiences are unforgettable and worth your time and investment. I will show you how to create a blueprint for your trip which outlines how to travel to Europe for $12.53, personalize a trip which aligns with your interests, travel stress-free, and pack like a pro, just to name a few.
1. ADD A FILTER AND DISCOVER THE “WHY"
Travel, at its deepest level, can assist us with our psychological needs. You may not think about travel in this way, but the experience can serve as our personal therapist. Travel can mend the imbalances and immaturities of our nature. In time, travel can reveal its full potential to behave as a form of therapy within our lives. Traveling opens and expands your mind to new ideas, ways of going about life, unique sceneries, types of food, people you may have never met, and so on. So why does all of this matter? Because everything can be enhanced through travel, whether it is your outlook on life, how you eat, how you budget, your independence, and even how you treat people… plus, travel can be very enjoyable. I personally know I need a type of routine to keep me productive, but sometimes, routine can start to dull aspects of my everyday life. However, travel can rejuvenate your senses and perspective. For example, numerous people take pictures on Instagram, and use a filter to enhance them. The original picture may be acceptable, but the altered picture can become exceptional. (well, sometimes...) Think about the notion like this: if you are living in the same place, seeing the same people, and working the same 9-5 job, this simple experience can bring a sense of comfort and dullness. I am not saying there is anything wrong here, but sometimes you need to add “a filter.” Let’s just say you travel to a place such the Dominican Republic: in this foreign locale, you can really have your eyes opened as to how some people live. Just try trekking through the mountains and you will understand. When I visited the Dominican Republic, I came across a school on top of a mountain with dirt floors and barely any running water. One of the things which amazed me was how happy kids were to see us visiting their school. Even though those kids lived in tents, they still were able to have a positive outlook on life, and you know what? In that moment, I felt a feeling I haven't quite felt before; but, I couldn't describe what it. The feeling not only put a smile on my face, but also planted an empathic seed within me. Once I returned home from the Dominican Republic, my perspective, or filter, had changed, and I sympathize more with people in need.
Determining why you want to travel in the first place is important. Try to dig deep and figure out what you are after. Not to contradict the previous sentence, but sometimes life can really cloud your mind, and make it really difficult to find the "why". So in this situation, let your trip bring your inner longings and desires out of you. Your inner self ultimately knows what you want. You just need to put yourself in the best opportunity to allow the experience to happen. Are you in search of something; running away from something; wanting to clear the mind; looking to help someone; going for a business trip; visiting friends; full of wanderlust; or a mix of all of the above? Write your ideas down, talk to someone about them, or just find a way which works for you.
I'll let Jason Silva explain the importance of travel further.
2. KNOW THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRIPS
When planning my trips, one common question usually arises, " Why are you going there?" I usually just give a short response because many people do not understand the depths of my answer, or they think all trips are created equal. Most people see travel as a vacation, and they quickly correlate vacation to relaxing. To me, I categorize travel into four different types: Relaxation, Exploration, Vagabonding, and Organizational Travel. Keep in mind when traveling, you can experience a few of these types in one trip.
Here are the various types of travel definitions:
A. Relaxation: An abatement or relief from bodily or mental work or effort which lasts less than a couple of weeks. Vacation is taking time off to relax mentally and physically from everyday life. Usually, this means taking a trip to a beach, going to an all-inclusive resort, or just staying at home and watching Netflix all day. This is for someone who really needs a break from the day-to-day grind, with the intention of leaving work at home, and repairing the body on the short term.
B. Exploration: To traverse a region or area for the purpose of discovery, lasting less than 5 months. Exploration is taking time off to grow, learn, break up the routine, and to see what the world has to offer. Usually this means backpacking through several countries, hiking, and/or sightseeing. This trip is for someone looking to enhance their perception of culture, way of thinking, and fulfilling their wanderlust thirst.
C. Vagabonding: Wandering from place to place without any settled home for more than 5 months. This is very similar to exploration, but is less common, but with more commitment and less structure. Usually this means quitting a job to soul search or to accomplish a certain task. This is for someone who needs a career change, is ambitious, knows exactly what they want out of life, or has no clue.
D. Organizational Travel: To study, intern, volunteer or conduct business abroad. This is someone in college who is studying and/or interning abroad, traveling to represent their business abroad, a freelance travel writer, joining the peace corps or any other volunteer organization.
3. PICK A LOCATION BASED UPON YOUR INTERESTS
Once the different types of trips are established, picking the location is critical. This can be something you either do not realize has importance, or have no idea how to choose a locale. For example, for some people do not even realize that going to Florida 15 times in a row may not be their perfect fit. This repetitive trip may be nice, but if you never explore alternative locations and/or not do your homework, then you might not be getting the most out of your time. This is totally understandable: for a novice traveler so many places to choose from can be overwhelming.
Find out exactly what you and/or your group like to do when traveling, and make consensus a group effort. Also, if you choose to go with others, make sure you pick your travel companions wisely. Just because they are your family and/or great friends, doesn't mean they are great travel buddies. You do not want to let a trip ruin a relationship.
I've spoken with so many people who haven't taken these elementary steps seriously, and wonder why their trip did not turn out as anticipated. What do you like? Do you really enjoy food, sports, art, music, adrenaline rushes, drinking, cultures, or learning something new? Pick 3 or four items, and make it point to find the places which caters to your needs and interests. These recommendations may all sound like common sense, but can certainly make the difference.
4. HAVE AN OPEN MIND
Have you ever heard the phrase, " If it bleeds it leads" in Journalism? This idiom can be used as a fear-based tactic to get people's attention. This thought method magnifies certain crimes and tends to “allow” them to happen. In truth, watching certain types broadcasts can be a psychologically risky to one's mental health. Fear-based news stories prey on the anxieties we all have, and I don't blame some people for getting worried, especially parents. When traveling, people are often worried about places of the unknown because people have been programmed to fear such places through the media. While traveling, it's okay to trust people, just hold your ground. Safety is obviously first and foremost, but there is a lot of genuinely nice people who are willing to assist. I have been helped by so many people throughout my trips. As an example, on one gorgeous day with a light breeze, with the temperature in the 80s, I took a tour in Miami. There were about 10 minutes left, and suddenly a hard rain began, leaving me to walk 3 miles to the hotel in a rain such as I ever seen before. Once all the other passengers had left, the tour guide, who was about 25 years old, offered to drive me back to my hotel. Yes, he was a stranger, but I trusted him and his character. He took the time to drive me 20 minutes in the opposite direction, and would not accept any payment in return. He was just looking out for my well-being.
Having an open mind about trying new things is also very important. I'm not telling you to go out and try acid, but try exotic foods and do things which will get you out of your comfort zone. Try something at least once, within reason, because this is what being alive is all about. How will you know what you like if you are always saying no, or following in someone else’s footsteps? Meet as many people as possible and experience something new.
Also, don't let being tired get in the way of a good night: those nights usually end up being the most fun.
5. ANALYSIS OF THE TRIP
Have you ever been so excited for something you literally cannot wait? Of course you have! I'm sure you have been really excited the night before Christmas. That same feeling is what I have while planning and waiting for trips to happen. Some people can get a sort of high from anticipating a trip, just like the hours leading up to your 21st birthday. This is just one of three different phases you can go through during a trip: Anticipation, Experience and Perceived Experience.
A. Anticipation: This is the first phase where you decide you are going to travel, choose where to go, plan the details, and then wait for the departure date. This phase can have an array of feelings attached: feelings of excitement, stress of planning, and/or feelings of liberation and accomplishment to name a few.
B. Experience: This phase may seem like common sense, but experience is the act of traveling in the present moment. This starts as soon as you leave until the day you return home. What you do and feel in the present will affect the eventual outcome of the trip, so realize the moment, BE in the moment, and be at peace. Often people don’t remember to live in the moment, and outcomes can be ruined. There is so much thought given to the past and future, so the current moment can become unnoticed. If planned, then traveling should be about what you’re doing now, not worrying about things which not yet happened. Stop focusing on the past and the future: experience travel through your eyes, not your pictures.
C. Perceived Experience: This is the final phase of travel, and involves reverse culture shock and how you have digested your experience. As some may not realize, the brain can actually alter memories of the trip through some of your negative emotions of culture shock, and inaccurate memories can form.
Cognitive biases are always at play, which can impact the experience. Even though many people think they had an incredible trip, one or two of the phases can falsely simulate this feeling. For example, you may have been excited for over a year to go to Paris, and you can recall all of the amazing things you saw, but in reality, during the trip you may have been stressed and uncomfortable. I am not saying your incredible trip last month was not the best thing you have ever done, however a more realistic view of the emotional roller coaster you ride during your trip is important. Whether your trip is negative or positive, the impact this trip left on you will certainly be positive.
Check back next week, where I tell you the secrets of travel hacking!
TO BE CONTINUED...
• Get to the root of why you are traveling
• Know that travel can have many meanings
• Understand the importance of personalizing your trip
• Travel can add a new filter to your life and allow to see life from a different point of view
• You won't remember the nights that you went to bed early
• Trust people on your trip, people are almost always willing to lend a hand
• Be safe and analysis your surrounds as well as the country's culture
• Travel isn't just experienced from one angle