I like nice things, I can say that without a sliver of doubt. The idea of being pampered, pose in photos of yourself living in unlimited luxury as you sit on an island drinking fresh squeezed juice for four days in sheer bliss. Yeah, all of that is pretty flippin’ fantastic.
You may be wondering if there is even a difference, and maybe there isn’t. Perhaps it’s all one in the same, and we all just “travel” differently. I have this idea that a vacation is an interruption from your daily routine, to immerse yourself in things that make you feel relaxed and comfortable. You may be in a different country, but the conveniences and things you deem as luxury are surrounding you. Your way of life is far from inconvenienced, everything that brings you comfort and peace is available. You are at an opportune place to worry about nothing. Sounds like everything we’ve all ever hoped and dreamed of.
On the other side of the adventure scale, then what does is it mean to travel? I define it as pretty much the polar opposite. You take yourself into a new place where perhaps there are a minimal amount of things that feel routine, convenient or normal. For example, a language barrier. All of a sudden you’re in a place where your communication techniques are challenged, you have to adjust or find a creative way to meet someone else’s way of communicating. You are uncomfortable in the best way. It’s like living in a puzzle and the adventure is figuring out the pieces to complete the full experience. Just like anything, it gets easier the more you do it. Whether it’s learning the language, observing how people interact or just trusting someone to show you a new way of living.
Traveling to me is leaving a piece of you at home, and diving into a pool of unknowns. Don’t get me wrong, it can and will bring out your fears, anxiety, confusion and vulnerability. The reward in putting yourself out there to unknown space, is the achievement you feel when you look back and realize you survived. You’re greeted with the depth and magnitude of your own capability as an individual able to overcome discomfort, in a foreign place and that is bad ass! All of a sudden you get a confidence boost, and you can let go of the stress, dive into the moment and really start to live with and become part of what is in front of you.
Another aspect of traveling versus vacationing is being willing to live on someone else’s terms. We all have our personal boundaries, those are important and should not be crossed. But, there is a beauty in being willing to put aside your own normalcies and indulge into the way of someone else’s. Personally, I hate the idea of being a tourist anywhere I go. Obviously, I am a tourist, but I am intentional in how I interact, and continuously check in with myself and hold myself accountable to staying open-minded. An exercise is paying attention to new things that make you react in certain ways. Some situations may give you an excitement and eagerness, while other things may make you retract, in those moments I look to myself and ask why? Why do I have thoughts like, “that’s gross!” Is it a bias, an assumption or pure judgment? It’s okay to talk to yourself and important to take responsibility and control of where your thoughts are. But there is an incredible amount of value in being able to know yourself, want to make a change, and actually take the steps to do it.
Now here is the thing, coming from an US perspective, I believe the average American is accustomed to vacationing before traveling. Our society here is based on a social structure that is defined by work. Our normal is to prioritize work, because when we work, we make money, we obtain luxuries such as a nice house, car and thus we are successfully living our American dream. We vacation to take a break and get away from those stresses. I’m only touching on this, but this is definitely topic that deserves a long conversation, but to tie it back into the actual topic at hand, how can you become a traveler when your circle is prone to vacationing? Travel solo.
If you’re someone who is afraid to travel alone, it’s okay. A lot of people are. In fact I really think most people are. I’ve been afraid to travel alone. As someone who is an advocate for solo traveling (especially for WOC), I want you to know that once you get the taste of accomplishment and truly understand your power and presence, you will become addicted to that sense of being. I don’t know anyone who overcame their fear of solo travel and regretted it. When I spoke about the overcoming of feeling uncomfortable in a foreign place, experiencing this solo escalates the sense of accomplishment and confidence to new extremes. It is truly an indescribable feeling and I wholehewriterly wish that level of growth on any and everyone. And please know, it is reasonable and absolutely acceptable to, “start small.” Your growth comes from within, and only you know your levels of comfort.
A few years ago, when I lived in Atlanta, I took a solo trip to Chicago from Sunday to Tuesday. It is still one of my most memorable trips to date. The sad part was, I received so much backlash and negativity from people around me when I was planning my trip. “Chicago is too dangerous for you. You’re a woman, why would you ever go there by yourself? You’re stupid for putting yourself in a dangerous place, you can get shot.” *Insert tremendous eye roll* I did not get shot. I very much survived. Did you know that Chicago is an architectural hub? I didn’t. I took a boat tour and learned so much about why Chicago’s skyline is so aesthetically pleasing, and how artists from across the globe contributed to its beauty.
Just to wrap things up, I enjoy a nice vacation, but to date nothing has ever given me more fulfillment than taken opportunities of travel. It will transform you and become a lifestyle change drenched in positivity. I’m not an irresponsible person, I live life reasonable and I enjoy structure. Oh, but I am a ridiculous impulsive traveler. And I wouldn’t change that for the world. If your moment hasn’t come yet to immerse yourself in the world of travel, I challenge you to take action and initiate movement to create the opportunity to do so. You got this.