Feel like you are going through the motions of your life? Sick and tired of the monotony of every day living? Then if you can, when you can: try traveling!
I get it — you only have a little bit of vacation time and it’s so tempting to use it at home, close to it, or otherwise visiting relatives in a distant locale. But while friends and family and home improvement projects are important, so is feeling like you are living instead of merely existing.
You could do some tried-and-true things to rock your world; you could dye your hair, get a piercing or a tattoo, or buy a motorcycle. But one of the best ways to refresh and renew yourself is to voyage to a new place.
Being in a new place opens up a world of possibilities — a new way of doing things that you’ve never thought about before. In addition to tasting new flavors and seeing new vistas, you also are the first-person witness (and hopefully participant) to new customs as well.
I’ve learned quite a few things from my travels, but here are some of the most important tips in order to have a time that widens your perspective:
1. Don’t Judge, Just Try
As long as it’s something that’s not against your values, why not give it a try — even just a little bit? There will be things that seem strange or completely opposite to your native culture, but you could end up liking them once you get over your initial shock. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even bring back a custom to incorporate into your daily life at home. Try not to have a judgment of “good” or “bad” with anything you do. Their way is not “wrong” and your way is not “right” — they are just different. Keeping this in mind will help you put on someone else’s shoes for a little bit — and that’ll feel good (especially when you’ve gotten tired of your own!).
2. Get to Know Locals
It’s easy to get swept up in seeing landmarks and monuments, but try to add some quality interaction with locals. This opens your eyes and adds a human touch to all of the new things you’re experiencing. It also brings an element of lively exchange that you just can’t get from a painting or a statue. How do you do this? See if there any language or cultural exchanges at a nearby library or bookstore, do a web search and see if there are any meet ups that pertain to something you’re interested in, or sign up for something like Couchsurfing. And you can always politely strike up a conversation with someone seated next to you at a cafe or on a bus. One great way to start a conversation: ask for help with something or give a genuine compliment and then go from there.
As long as you’re in a pretty safe place, give exploring without a map a try. Or keep it with you, but also be led by the sights and sounds around you. Discover your inner Lewis and Clark, but remember to remain alert, aware, and avoid any potentially unsafe situations. Stay where there are a lot of people and leave the exploring to the daylight hours. But keep in mind that going without a plan leaves you more open to have a more serendipitous experience. At the very least, you’ll see something you wouldn’t have normally seen — and this makes your travel experience unique to you (as opposed to a cookie-cutter experience that everyone else has already had).
4. Document Your Time
You may be having such amazing experiences that you think you’ll never forget them, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly the details will fade from your memory. Two weeks later, you’ll be asking yourself what the name was of that person you swore you would always remember… Make it easier on yourself (and your brain!) and take pictures, e-mail your friends and family (with copies to yourself), or journal your experiences. Write about your feelings, your discoveries — all the new things you’re trying and learning. Then, if you ever get into a rut again, travel is only a click (or page) away!
What about you? What are some of your travel rules?
Image Credit: Andreyah Portilla / Flickr