Can’t remember what it feels like to be so excited for a trip that you can’t sleep the night before? When was the last time you found yourself unable to sit still through a flight? Does your heart still leap upon touching down on foreign ground?
There are many things in our lives that we let slip when we allow ourselves to get weary. The thirst of excitement and rawness of new encounters loses its charm, and we find ourselves harder and harder to impress as we continue to get disenchanted by the sights and sounds around us. We’re always seeking out the most exotic adventures, always wanting to be ‘wowed’; and in the process, we forget the one most important thing in the world that makes travel worthwhile in the first place: happenstance.
Serendipity is a truly wondrous thing; it is perhaps the only thing that makes any memory look golden in retrospect. If you, like some of us out there, are beginning to feel jaded by your own travels, here are nine thoughts to consider to revive your inner wayfarer – and hopefully, put the ‘free’ back into your spirit again.
1. You don’t have to leave the country to travel.
We travel for many reasons: some do it to gain perspective, some to discover new things, and some to just break away from the daily grind. Unfortunately, today’s hive mind has driven us to believe that in order to achieve all these, only the most exotic and trendiest destinations will suffice. Finding ourselves can only happen at a yoga retreat in the Himalayas; great adventures await only in ritzy Europe; and de-stressing possible only on one of the Pacific Islands.
How did travel evolve into an all-or-nothing experience? How did it go from being about how you look at your new environment, to how others look at you in your new environment? I can assure you, plenty of discoveries can be made without even having to cross any borders – provided you decide to go out there and pursue it. Travelling is a mindset – not a spectacle; and much of its beauty lies in being lost in the strangeness and confusion of all things new, of being pushed out of our comfort zones – and often, we don’t even need to travel too far from our own home to find that.
Create the adventure you want with what you have. Anything that takes you out of the ordinary is just as valuable an experience as anything else.
2. It’s okay to be clueless.
Please don’t trust everything you see on social media. Nobody has it all figured out. Which is why it’s perfectly okay if you feel clueless about life half the time. About what you’re doing at any given point of time – before, during, or after the trip. About what you want to be, now or ten years down the road. There is freedom in the state of not knowing, so enjoy it because no matter what anyone tells you, it’s actually okay to not have to know everything every time. Who is to say that fulfillment cannot be achieved if we don’t know exactly what we want? Like the age-old quote goes, ‘if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there’.
Trust your meanderings. You never know what you’ll find.
3. Homesick/Not homesick? Don’t feel bad about it.
Forget what you hear. You can be a homebody and still feel a burning need to be away from home: these two opposite traits are not mutually exclusive to each other. Just because you travel ever so often does not mean you dislike where you’re from- often, people make the mistake of believing that in order to want to be away so much, something must be inherently wrong with his/her own society. That cannot be more untrue. Sometimes, being shoved into a world completely different from our own is the very thing that makes us appreciate home more.
Likewise, just because you get the occasional bout of homesickness whenever you’re away doesn’t make you a wuss or a party pooper. It definitely isn’t an indication that you aren’t enjoying your travels either. Sudden bouts of wistfulness do tend to hit us when we’re at our highest and least expect it, and it certainly has nothing to with how little fun we’re having. It just, happens, and it also means that home is never too far from our thoughts – even when we’re at our happiest.
4. Stop caring what others think or say.
Let’s be honest: we’re all guilty of basing too much of our own thoughts and actions on how others might perceive us. We tip toe our way through life doing more of what pleases others instead of what we truly believe in – all because we’re too afraid to stand out for the wrong reasons.
Living a life that follows the ideal notions of what other people think is a terrible way to live. Instead of being proactive change-makers, we become spineless spectators of our own destiny; instead of leading the way, we disintegate into followers. Worst of all, instead of standing up for what resonates with us, we become someone who doesn’t take a stand for anything.
Nothing on our List of Things to Do should leave us feeling embarrassed or ashamed. We can be petrified, nervous, insecure, left out in a cold sweat of apprehension even – but we must never be daunted, not by what we think others will think or say. What does it even matter?
Surround yourself with like-minded people who keep you inspired; have less to do with those who make you feel like you’re ‘wrong’ for wanting to do certain things or be at certain places. Our sense of self-worth should be less dependent on external validation but instead, on how we feel about ourselves at the end of the day.
5. Your happiness is NOW.
It is an awful thing to believe, that happiness is something that can be adjourned to a later time. Happiness is not a pipe dream which you will be rewarded with after decades of blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice. It is not something that you have to work ‘towards’. Happiness just, is, and it is everywhere around you. Stop looking forward to ‘some day’. Be practical and realistic about your take on happiness.
That said, having goals and achievements in life is not a bad thing; just please don’t let it be something that defers you from happiness NOW.
6. It’s okay if you deviate from the plan.
Travel enough and you will learn three things:
One, in planning you need to identify and accept your limitations.
Two, the only way you’ll come out of anything sane is if you value your planning for the process and not the end result, and;
Three, you don’t plan.
Travel is one of those few rare things in life where not sticking to the plan can sometimes lead to something better. So loosen the reins on ourselves, take some risks, and plan to not have a plan from time to time- and don’t forget to make a million and one mistakes along the way. You’ll be surprised at how strangely liberating it feels to discover things you didn’t plan for: they’re usually the very best.
7. You are not alone.
This is one for the solo travellers: Travelling on your own doesn’t necessarily mean you are alone. It doesn’t even mean you have to actively eyeball every other traveler who passes you by as a potential new acquaintance, just so you won’t be alone. No. Travelling solo means you finally get to be with yourself for a while, to take in brand new environments on your own and create brand new, undiluted experiences that have not been tainted by the prejudices of someone else- all on your own. If you have a special interest, pursue it. If you want to seek out the locals, go for it. If you ever think you are alone just because you don’t have someone beside you, think again. Travelling solo is the best way to discover the one most important person there is in this world: You.
8. Let Your Mind Wander Before Your Feet.
It’s incredibly important to travel the world, meet new people, and experience new things; but above all else, it’s more important to travel your mind. After all, if you want to get to know the world, it’s probably best to get to know your mind first. How you perceive, interpret, and understand various facets of reality will undoubtedly shape and affect your travel experiences – and until you feel mentally grounded, often, much of the world’s wonders and magic will just slide off you like water off an elephant’s back.
Seek to develop the mental and emotional capacity needed to fully enjoy your travels for all that it’s worth. Speaking from personal experience, it is a great shame to travel broken because not only does it do nothing in the long run to fix you, it also attenuates the quality of your experiences and taints your memories of what could have been a really beautiful country- not to mention that there is a high chance you’ll come back feeling emptier than before.
Don’t make the same mistake I did: Mend yourself before taking on the world. All the magic on this Earth cannot fix you if you don’t fix yourself first.
9. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t travel.
We know how it is. Every single day we scroll through our feeds and see updates of yet another friend jetsetting to yet another part of the world, ticking off things on their bucket list that, goddammit, just so happens to be on yours too. Meanwhile, you’re stuck in the same place you’ve been for the past four years, working in the same old job and paying the same old bills, barely scraping by at the end of the month to even entertain the idea of saving up for a vacation, and- Oh, look. here’s another one who made it to Macchu Picchu.
At the risk of overlapping the first point of this article, you don’t actually have to leave the country to travel. Or if you do, it doesn’t have to be done glamorously or exotically all the time. In this great big world of endless possibilities, adventures lie in every nook or cranny just waiting to be undertaken; and at the end of the day, it is how you perceive the world around you that will determine how these adventures are eventually conceived. Simply put, it is your attitude – and not the destination itself- that creates a worthy and rewarding travel experience. Do not be fooled – you will be surprised at how often the ones who travel the least in distance and time, are the ones who beget most quality from their escapades.