The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Why You Should Travel More
There are many people who never leave their hometown, home state, or their home country. They are born, live, and die within a 50 mile radius and never know what the outside world is really like. It could be like what the media shows you, a scary world, filled with vicious human beings who are looking to rob and murder everyone who crosses their path, but that would be the furthest thing from the truth.
There are definitely some parts of the world which you should use caution when traveling or should just forego traveling to those places altogether, but for the most part, after having lived in several states across the United States, having lived in another country, having traveled in other countries, and having traveled across the United States, the world is a lot smaller than you might think, and it is filled with more friendly people who are just happy to meet someone who is not from around where they are from.
Traveling opens your mind to all walks of life and introduces you to a variety of people you would otherwise never have known existed. The world is filled with over 7.5 billion people and even if you spent everyday of your life traveling, meeting new people, you would actually only meet less than 1% of them. If you traveled throughout your life, you might be lucky enough to talk to and experience the lives of about .0001% of 7,500,000,000+ people. More realistically, you will probably have a meaningful momentary experience with about .00001% or 700 of them. Of all the people in the world, .000001% or 70 of them might become your acquaintances and friends, and .0000001% or 7 might become your best friends throughout your life. The world is filled with people and yet, the majority of people are living their lives, closed off, trying to get through life, make money, support their families, etc. This does not mean there is anything wrong with you or the world, it just means that there are a lot of people in the world and it is unrealistic to even meet 1% of them, or 75,000,000 people.
For those people you do meet and you open your mind, communication, and heart to, you may experience a joy like no other. Connecting with souls who were born in other countries and other states is one of the most meaningful experiences you will ever have in your life. You will get to see their thought process, listen to the way they speak to others, understand how they are making their own living, as most people on the planet must do, and even find out what they do for fun. Everyone has their own lives and everyone is on their own adventure. As you experience them, they get to experience you. The moments are extremely brief. When I lived in Israel, I spent a year teaching English and spending time with the locals. I would have loved to stay longer but my time came to an end, and this is just one full year, just about 365 days of my life, that I got to spend with them.
This is the same for all people I met in college, all the people I saw, but never spoke to in college, all the co-workers who I met at work, but no longer work at those jobs. Life is extremely precious and the instances in which we are communicating with other people is much more rare than you think. Even if you have a job in communicating with other people, you are just doing your job of talking to other people, but you aren’t really getting to know them. Your intimate moments with other people are very rare and limited, much more limited than you know.
In traveling and opening up your soul to communicate with others, just finding out what they do, or listening to how they are living, you get to find out so much about other people. I once traveled to California, stopped in a Starbucks, and met a guy who was living out of his car by choice, picking up freelance jobs here and there to simply pay for his gas, but loved his lifestyle of waking up near a beach everyday. When I was attending college in downtown Chicago, I asked a homeless man why he was begging instead of trying to find a job and working. He said he chose to be homeless because he found it easier to beg people for a few dollars for something to eat once or twice a day, rather than working, but that he was homeless by choice, and did not want to abide by the standards of society. In London, I spoke to a “golden man” who was entertaining on the streets and I asked him if he enjoyed his job. He said he wouldn’t trade it for the world, though he wished people would tip more, but he still enjoyed putting on the show.
There is a lot you learn about others when traveling, but more importantly, depending on how you travel, you do get to learn a lot about yourself. I have traveled very lightly, with my car, a sleeping bag, and a big backpack to carry all my things, and went on long weekend hiking trips, with a water pack and some peanut butter, where I discovered others who were like me, but even more intense, taking weekly hiking trips to new places, saving money by sleeping under the stars and skipping hotels, loving and enjoying life for the journey that this Earth has to offer. In order for me to travel as much as I do, I must skip out on the motels, hotels, and restaurants, and live like a minimalist for my trips. Fortunately, I really don’t mind, as traveling becomes very inexpensive.
Life is far too short not to travel and meet new people. Whether you choose to stay in a motel, hotel, or sleep in your car, there is much to do and enjoy. When it comes to traveling, there are several tips to follow, including:
- If you are flying anywhere, book trips 54 days before the flight for the lowest price possible
- Leave work life at the office and focus on the journey
- Make sure you have done a little research about your destination
- Make sure you have plenty of water with you (if not traveling by plane)
- Make sure you have some snacks with you (if traveling by plane)
- Make sure to have an extra phone charger on you or additional battery charge packs
- Pack light with a few everyday clothes, a few warmer clothes, a jacket or coat, and several pairs of socks, and underwear
- Have a set price that you are spending on your vacation and try to stay within that range
- While you should definitely bring a camera, you don’t need to take photos of everything — take a few photos, put the phone down, and enjoy the experience
- To save money, don’t go to tourist areas, but rather find out where locals go for their dining experience and groceries and shop there
- Learn the most common local phrases and words if traveling to another country
- Learn what the currency exchange is if traveling to another country
- Make sure you have comfortable shoes and socks
- Make sure you dress appropriately
- Make sure you contact your credit card company to let them know you are traveling to and how long you will be there
- Make sure you keep essentials on or near you
- Make sure a loved one or friend knows exactly where you are each day you are traveling
- Make sure you travel only during the day and if you must travel at night, travel with others
- Make sure you control your alcohol or drug-intake while abroad or around people you don’t know
- Make sure you travel to places deemed safe by your country
- Make sure you put together a survival kit
- Additional cash ($50 – $100)
- Ibuprofen (or Advil fast-acting liquid-gel equivalent)
- Nail Clipper
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Sewing Kit
- Small role of Duct-tape
- Small role of electrical tape
- Toilet Paper or Baby/Adult Wipes
- Towel or small cloth
- Water bottle or empty water bottle or Camelbak
In my latest endeavors, my fiancee bought me a LifeStraw Personal Water Filter so I can now bring empty water bottles and have peace of mind, no matter what sink I fill up in. Be safe and smart when traveling. Traveling is as fun and as safe as you make it. The whole world is at your feet. Get to know it. Get to enjoy it! Life is too short not to travel and experience it! Get to know others and talk to other people! You will find this world is quite an amazing place filled with amazing people once you start travelling!
This infographic covers additional tips of the Anatomy of a Master Traveller.
Infographic courtesy of Neomam.com
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The Anatomy of a Master Traveller
What makes a master traveller a ‘Master Traveller’?
- Learns the language of the host country… including the slang
- Tries to book a 767 knowing that these planes have the fewest middle seats
- Leaves work at the office
- Is mindful of cultural differences
- Knows to check for bedbugs
- Knows how to read a map and uses a compass for when GPS fails
- Knows how to navigate public transportation
- Books trips 54 days before the flight for the lowest possible price
- Knows that travel-sized items are a rip-off – buys refillable 100ml bottles instead
- Knows that, when it comes to foreign currency, commission-free doesn’t always mean it’s the best deal
- Knows how to leverage credit card travel rewards
- Brings his or her own snacks on the flight to avoid the high cost of food sold at the airport
- Avoids wearing clothes with flags, logos, and symbols specific to a particular culture
- Indulges in the traditional dishes and local brews
- Goes to markets early in the morning to see what ingredients local restaurants are stocking up on for the day – and knows it’s a great way to find authentic local food
- Doesn’t take pictures of everything, just enjoys the experience
- Knows to divide money into separate bags: wallet, suitcase, and day bag
- Carries a decoy wallet and conceals his or her real wallet in case of a robbery
- Knows not to carry a wallet in their back pocket
- Brings own headphones on the plane
- Equips his or her smartphone with destination specific apps
- Becomes familiar with local bloggers for insights on destination
- Studies online reviews and comments from locals
- Knows 20% of necessities will cover 80% of travel situations
- Is tech-smart to save space – packs an e-reader over books and a USB lead over multiple chargers
- Keeps essential and important items in the carry-on to prevent loss
- Knows duct tape is the perfect fix-all
- Is not fazed by bad weather – instead gets creative to make the best out of a rainy day
- Rolls rather than folds clothes
- Always packs a poncho
- Brings an empty water bottle so that he or she doesn’t have to buy bottled water
- Packs a first aid kit with bandages, antibacterial cream, and over-the-counter pain relief
Armed with a head full of knowledge and a backpack full of appropriate gear, the master traveller can focus on what matters: savouring the experiences and creating lifelong memories.