I’ve been back one week now from months of traveling in Europe and slowly settling into bay area life. I say slowly because I’m trying to hold on or better said adopt the traveler’s mind into my daily life.
Which of course begs the question – What is the traveler’s mind?
I can’t speak for all travelers, only myself and my mindset. When I decided to pack a bag and set off to travel, I knew only one thing for sure… that I didn’t know anything.
I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I was going to feel. I didn’t even know where I’d be going. And to be honest it was kinda scary… The last time I stepped out of the comforts of home was when I went to work in India for 2 months, I ended up staying for 6 months and it changed my life. I was younger then and definitely felt more invincible… but I had decided one thing during that India trip… I didn’t ever want to be too comfortable in my American life.
Don’t get my wrong, I appreciate all that this country has to offer and I have deep gratitude for the struggle my parents overcame to build a life here… But the world is larger than America and we have a lot to learn from the corners of the earth. That’s a topic for another day.
Back to the traveler’s mind. Stepping into the unknown kinda feels like taking a big leap of faith and once your mid leap you have a choice for when you land – curiosity or close up. And this is what differentiates travellers and tourists (in my opinion). A tourist steps into another country with a checklist to tick off and searches for the luxuries of home. A traveller has no idea what their next move will be and opts to engage in conversation with the local people and piece together their journey one step at a time.
The latter was me. And what I discovered was the vulnerabilities of every place I visited through deep conversations and joyful connections. In those moments of openness I found myself visiting places I couldn’t have tried to plan for and relationships were built that I couldn’t have even dreamed of. People were helpful, kind, and generous … I began to wonder why? I didn’t say or do anything different than my friends that lived in these areas, nor from when I’m at home in San Francisco,
But something was different, it was subtle yet powerful. I had an openness to me that came with months of slowing down, paying attention, and making time to connect whether it be with the server at the corner restaurant, the hairstylist who did my hair, or the local barista. In slowing down my journey unfolded.
Side note: slowing down is a lot easier to do when you really don’t have any plans or a tight schedule to stick to which was how I travelled.
Being back home now I’m hyper aware of how easy it is to get caught up in mindless activities, making plans, and the massive weapons of mass distraction i.e. mobile phones and social media.
When I was away I didn’t have a data plan and often I was without wifi so I had no choice but to read, write, and be present. Having mobile access at your fingertips is extremely addictive. Here are some of the rituals I’ve adopted to apply a travelers mind at home:
- Surround yourself with good people. Spending time traveling tends to put relationships into perspective and you realize that you’re time is valuable and how you spend it determines the course of your life. Re-evaluate relationships, let go of the ones that don’t feel nourishing and reach out to those that to do. I’ve reached out to people I haven’t talked to in years because I realized they are the people that are nourishing.
- Stop making so many plans. Calendars are good to keep things organized but when your calendar starts to look like a rainbow or worse a double rainbow then it’s time examine why every moment of your life is scheduled out. Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans… create space for spontaneity. I’m often asked what I’ve got planned and I feel a twinge of irritation answering that question but that’s my own conditioning that I’m working through as I get more comfortable saying “nothing” or even better “living in the moment”
- Get uncomfortable. Traveling tends to shake people up and leads to some life changing experiences because you are faced with the unknown and it’s uncomfortable. This is also why travel is exciting. Learn a new language, instrument, dance, or hobby… talk to new people… write an opinion article and PUBLISH it… there are so many ways to expand your comfort zone. I’m learning Spanish, publishing more articles, and maybe just maybe will be getting on a motorcycle soon… all of which feels uncomfortable!
- Have a morning ritual. Honing in how you start your day could be the single most important thing you do. I’ve been up early the last week because of jet lag and was kindly encouraged to go for a walk; I took up the suggestion and am enjoying it so much. I listen to music or an audio book and walk 2 miles to a coffee shop, treat myself to a coffee, and walk back. I’m really energized by time I come home but a bit scattered so I follow it up with 15 minute meditation using my Insight Timer App and then hit the shower for hot/cold blast followed by a power breakfast and then I tackle my day (which hasn’t consisted of much yet). Today it was raining and I was literally sad that I couldn’t go for my walk, I almost wanted to crawl back into bed but decided to do quick workout instead.
- Let it linger. Take time to enjoy the experiences you are having. We’re often looking for the next thing before the current moment ends… string these half ass moments together and you get a week full of blurs. Share your experience with your friends and family, journal about them, and take a moment to express gratitude. I have barely begun to scratch the surface on reflecting on my travels, in the past I’d feel anxious about sorting through my pictures and blogging about my travels within a few days of returning… but this time I’m going to let it linger and take weeks maybe months to let this journey unfold.
I’ll leave you with this quote:
Traveling – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.
Lead your life with a traveler’s mindset and write your story.
Stay tuned for more on travel, mindset, and other musings.
What is your traveling mindset? Share in comments…