Create Your Own Travel State of Mind Anywhere
Love it or hate it, your Facebook/Instagram/whatever social media you use is probably full of milestones (births, marriages, jobs, deaths), pop news, and, especially right now, trips. Trips to places you may have been or hope to go. Photos upon photos upon photos of adventures.
Which is why I’ve been wondering lately: what are we traveling for? Are we seeking, or escaping, or simply being? What if we can’t travel? Why do you travel?
WHY I TRAVEL
I used to travel for domination — trying to collect cities and check off destinations from the canon of places one must travel, but I quickly realized I don’t like traveling from point a to point b just to have a photograph to prove I did, I like to get to know a place and the people in it and that takes time and money and a certain kind of preparedness.
I also realized I like the feeling of traveling: being completely open and ready for whatever happens and whoever comes into my life. An intimate connection with strangers, and sometimes friends, is my ultimate pick-me-up.
The moments when I stumble into a new friend group and get invited to an impromptu BBQ at a ridiculously populated park in Berlin, or meet a new lover on the sticky streets of Barcelona, or visit a friend’s new home in her new city and have a casual dinner with whatever is already in her fridge or find myself alone eating at a cozy oyster bar off the beaten path in Seattle — these are the memories I remember.
The unexpected and the random and the mundane. I forget the logistics and the plans and, usually, the exhausting plane ride or the stressful last-minute packing, but I remember the feeling.
“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” —Anthony Bourdain
I travel to connect and to remind myself that everything works out, if you give it enough space and time and loosen up your expectations. I travel for the moments that you cannot recreate, for the feelings that you cannot photograph. I travel for the state of mind that I get into when I’m traveling, and I think it’s a state of mind that you can practice anywhere — whether or not you happen to be flying off to Paris this weekend.
With a new retail space and a business to run, I myself will be in New York City (I know, not the worst place to be stuck) for the foreseeable future, but I am following these guidelines to make sure I am in a travel state of mind, even if I’m not traveling.
Create Your Own Travel State of Mind, Anywhere
1. Understand Why You Travel
To have a travel state of mind, you must first understand why you travel. Do you like the thrill of new places? The people you meet on the way? The languages you are exposed to? The museums?
Write down everything you love about travel. Take a look at the list. Are there any themes that emerge? Are the things you love simple or complicated? Are they actions or feelings? Are they specific people or places? Are they things you can plan or not? If you don’t like travel, write down the things you hate: what stresses you out? What makes you unhappy? What makes you uncomfortable?
Once you’ve reviewed your list, make a new list with the things that aren’t specific to a place or a person. Include activities and feelings. Include things you can and can’t control.
Now, write a travel state of mind statement: “I travel because . . . ‘. (or I don’t travel because . . .). This can be anything, but it should summarize why you travel, or why you avoid it.
2. Recreate The Things You Love
Once you know why you travel, or why you don’t travel, you can recreate the things you love to create a travel state of mind. If you have specific activities, try to find them wherever you live — you’d be surprised how much is happening in your own city or town. If you have specific feelings, think about what makes you feel those feelings and try to recreate them with things you can do at home or with friends. If you ended up writing a list of things you hate about traveling, see if that can help you figure out things you do love and start to do more of those activities.
3. Be Prepared for the Unknown and Open to the Opportunity
I think that a common theme in what most of us love about travel is having amazing, unexpected experiences. These can only happen if we are prepared and open to them happening.
How many times has someone invited you to something and you declined because you: didn’t have time, didn’t know what to expect, or weren’t dressed appropriately. Here are a few ways to be prepared and be open.
We are all over-scheduled. When you don’t have time, you don’t have the option to be open. Instead of having lots of plans, try having fewer plans. I try to keep at least one night a week free — two if I’m lucky — and I try to keep this open for whatever I feel like. When the night comes, I can decide if I want to work on a project, read a book, or say yes to a last minute invite.
Clear your expectations.
One definition of unhappiness is when your reality falls short of your expectations. If you have fewer expectations, you have fewer opportunities to be disappointed. Try clearing your mind of expectations next time you go out or meet up with friends. See if that changes things.
If you don’t have a passport, and someone invites you to go abroad, you will be limited because you aren’t prepared. If you don’t have a pair of shoes you can walk in for a long time, you’ll probably turn down a last minute invite to walk to a nearby bar after work and hang out with a new connection. Start noticing what consistently holds you back from the unexpected, and start preparing so next time you are ready. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy new gear or clothes, but it may mean you should start asking friends or co-workers if they have items you may need for the experiences you want to have so you can borrow them if you are in a pinch.
I’m pretty sure that most of my memorable travel experiences required me to say yes to something I either haven’t done before or didn’t think I liked doing. I said yes because I was more open when traveling, and I try to say yes more often to things I am unfamiliar with. This enables me to have new experiences and zero expectations.
Talk to strangers. And listen to them.
This is something I wish everyone did all the time! When we travel, we have to talk to strangers because we have to check into a hotel, or find the train station. We simply have no choice. But how often do we talk to strangers in our normal lives? The more you talk to strangers — or people you see every day who you may have gotten used to ignoring — the more likely you are to make a new connection.
I’m confident that by following these three tips: understanding why you travel, recreating the things you love, and being prepared for the unknown and open to the opportunity, you will be able to create a travel state of mind, and hopefully, create a little more joy and connection in your life. Life’s too short to wait until that vacation. We’ve got to experience every moment the way we want.