Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you are a regular reader of Unboxed Life you know we have talked at some length about the benefits and abilities of travel. Whether it is across town or across the world, travel provides innumerable benefits and elevates us to places once only occupied by birds and clouds. When thinking of travel, such as it is, wondering if there are ways of moving through the world that are more valuable or more desirable seems a natural progression. Are there some sort of ideas or methods of travel that allow us to extract the utmost from any striking out. You may think of the age-old debate: travel vs. tourism. What does this mean? Is one really better than the other? Let’s explore some of the finer points and see if we can’t see in the subtleties something that can help us escape the boxes we live our lives in.
Interpersonal connections are more valuable than “checklist traveling”
I’m sure you have heard some, at one time or another, that they have always wanted to “do” some far off country. I want to “do” Thailand, or I want to “do” Eastern Europe. Though this sort of thinking is bred from a desire to see the world and explore its intricacies, this mindset turns real places into tasks or chores and overlooks what makes them unique and worth going to in the first place. Think about it. What makes Myanmar different from Seattle or Timbuktu different from Kalamazoo. Past the landscapes and buildings, people are what make each place its own entity and hold the key to gaining the most from leaving home.
As we travel the world our focus should be on experiencing the culture of each place we find ourselves and immersing our minds, hearts, and bodies in what makes each place unique. A large part of this is making connections with the people who call that place home. Obviously there are sights to see and things to “do” in cool places, but without the context of a personal understanding, these things become tick marks on a list and lose the value they hold close. More than any other thing, a personal connection with people in the world teach us about our own place and our own life in relation to the rest of humanity. Our personal journey is given a more broad context in which we can gain knowledge and perspective. Without that connection aren’t we all just endlessly searching for something to give us meaning?
Whether we like it or not, we leave an impact and it is up to us what kind it will be
Did you leave your house today? Yes? You made an impact in the world. Cool huh? No matter where we go or what we do we are each presented with the opportunity each and every day to make an impact on the place we call home. It is up to us to decide if it will be a positive one or a negative one. This idea is amplified to a greater degree when we travel to other parts of the world. Our impact on destinations that are far removed from where we come from can no be understated. I like to think of it like I am a guest in someone elses home, especially when I am. Be conscious of how your choices affect those around you, especially in developing nations. Choose to leave each place you go better than you found it and allow that experience to make you better than when you started. For all the amazing things that travel gives us and the power it can have in our lives, don’t we owe it to the amazing places we visit to give what we can of ourselves to make them better? I think so.
Allow your experiences to enhance your character and open your mind
I have expressed the feeling I have that for all my travels and attempts to serve others, I still walk away with far more than I could ever give. This idea has been one I have struggled with. The feeling that no matter my efforts it is not enough to repay what it gives me is something that is hard to shake. It seems I have to come to accept this fact and instead of allowing it to be something negative, turn it into an opportunity for personal growth. When traveling anywhere your most important item is always, and will forever be, an open mind and open heart. With these tools tucked into your packs, bags, and cases you can be guaranteed that when inspiration comes to find you, it will find the door open.
The ability of travel to shape your character and alter your life can not be understated. Whether you are relaxing on a Caribbean beach sipping drinks with little paper umbrellas, or making your way through the crowded, smoggy, ear-piercing streets of some far off city inspiration and learning will find you. Be ready and you will not be disappointed in what it can do to your life.
Bring your travel home with you
It seems that sometimes ones “travel self” is somewhat removed or unique from ones “home self.” Why is that? For what reason to we feel we must leave the attitude, feeling, and personality of travel along the side of the road from whence we came? When we choose to leave it all behind and strike out on the road we are “seeking for the mysterious something that calls — calls, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.” When we find it why not tuck it away in our mind and allow it to accompany us home to our everyday life. Allow the places you see and the people you meet to alter your interactions with those you know and those you do not yet know. Bring back with you a new-found outlook on something, a lesson learned or an idea sewn. Seek to bring the road with you wherever you go.
I think it a mistake to box in our thinking of world travel into some kind of two-sided debate or into separate camps if you will. The idea that there is only one way to see the world and to experience everything it offers seems limiting and closed minded. Being a part of the larger world and allowing its beauty and subtle connections to enrich your life is only a matter of perception and attitude. What is far more important is to gain the understanding that what makes travel incredible is not so much the sights you see, but the connections you may not. Whatever way you build those connections and experience their full glory, it can be said without doubt, is the best way to travel.
All photos: Copyright 2012, all rights reserved