What’s your travel philosophy? It’s a question that many seasoned travelers get asked. Your travel philosophy encompasses your beliefs on travel and the process of leaving home. It is like your mission statement for your trips. There are many to choose from, and depending on your travel style and what you want to get out of your trips, yours could be worlds away from the next person’s. Having a travel philosophy is not something you need to have, but more something you intrinsically have without even trying.
Most people travel without much thinking. Not that a certain amount of planning doesn’t go into the trip – booking a flight, researching hotels and looking at reviews; however, many people don’t stop to think about why they are actually traveling.When I travel, I’m usually carrying nothing more than a 20-pound backpack and a pair of sunglasses. I enjoy traveling solo to international destinations and places that give me a bit of culture shock. To me, traveling is about being taken out of your comfort zone and growing from the experience. However, if you asked my best friend what travel meant to her, she would be more likely to answer relaxing on a beach with close friends and a strong daiquiri. Additionally, I know other people who travel to learn about history, fashion, food, and medicine or to volunteer, escape, have an adventure, for inspiration, to become healed, to relax or to become closer with their partner. None of these ways of looking at travel is right or wrong, just different.
That’s one thing that’s so great about travel. Aside from doing illegal activities or being completely inconsiderate, there really is no wrong way to travel. It’s all about what you want to get out of the experience. For example, when living with a host family in Ghana, Africa, my favorite part was seeing the locals cook dinner and also attending events like church or a wedding. Of course, I visited the famous sites in the country like the slave castles, cultural centers and national parks; however, it was learning about everyday life that really made me feel like I was in Ghana.
So the big question is, why do you travel? It sounds like such a simple question, although figuring it out is not so easy.
On many past posts about my travels, I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people who just can’t relate to what I’m saying. I’ve also gotten many comments from people who think a lot like I do. There’s nothing wrong with either, as each person’s experience differs from another. This is another reason you shouldn’t listen to everything other travelers say, as their experiences are in line with their goals. For example, before going to Gimmelwald, an extremely small mountain town in Switzerland, I was asked by another backpacker, “Why would you go there? There’s nothing to do.” Thankfully I ignored her question, and followed my gut, as the destination is now one of my favorite cities in the world. While some people may find a place that doesn’t have nightclubs, restaurants and shops “boring,” I found it delightful. I went for picturesque hikes, purchased eggs, cheese and sausage from Erica, the town’s “egg and cheese lady” and bonded with new friends over red wine and games of Jenga. It opened my eyes up to a simpler way of life.
That’s why I travel. I’m not saying I had a revelation that I should leave my home city of New York and move to a small town in the mountains; however, I did discover a new way of life. For me, it’s about learning new things, exploring new landscapes and becoming more and more a citizen of the world.
I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, my travel philosophy has changed. When I was younger, even in my teenage years, I was obsessed with amusement parks. Every trip my family planned revolved around what roller coaster looked the scariest and which theme park had the newest rides. As I got older, I started to enjoy cruises and all-inclusive resorts, because I found them relaxing and a way to let loose and have fun without having to worry about money. It wasn’t until I studied abroad in Sydney that I began to view travel as more of a growing experience. When in Australia, I barely ever sat still, but instead used every free moment to explore the country, interact with locals and learn new things. That is the trip that really cemented my backpacker style of trying to travel close to the ground and immerse myself in local cultures.
What’s your travel philosophy?
[flickr image via jbachman01]