Travel doesn’t have to be big.
Travel doesn’t have to take a long time to plan.
Travel doesn’t have to break the bank.
Travel doesn’t even have to involve anyone else you know.
That person you always wanted to be, that experience you always wanted to have, that place you always wanted to go, that thing you always wanted to scratch off a list, that adventure story you always wanted to share – it’s all possible and available right outside your door.
For me, today, travel means embracing the mindset I have when on an adventure. It wasn’t always that way.
From Family Traveler to Sojourner
When I was little, travel meant a summer family holiday on a beach in Montauk Point, New York, and a spring trip to hang with Mickey Mouse in Disneyworld. Travel meant family excursions for ice cream, evenings at mini golf and afternoons filled with swimming pools, sandcastle building and riding theme park attractions.
I earned my own travel wings with a first visit to the Middle East followed by backpacking in Europe after university graduation. Doors began to open, the world grew a bit more accessible, and my interests in actively exploring and experiencing more of the great big world took hold.
It’s been more than two decades since that first international excursion and the meaning of travel (for me) has changed more times than I can count. There have been times that it meant checking off lists, and hitting spots in the shortest amount time. There have been times when it meant road tripping lands far and wide and experiencing something that I had never experienced.
Today, my definition is still changing. For now, it’s more of a mindset than an action, more of a perspective shift than a plane ticket, and more of a lifestyle than a hotel booking.
For all of us, travel must include acceptance. Wherever you go—whether it’s to the next county or the next country, travel includes openness. Tolerance. Patience. Shifting routine. Travel means working through change, seeking growth amidst the uncomfortable, doing something out of the ordinary and trying new. It means making a lifestyle of the lessons taught from learning to dance in the rain, jump in the mud puddles, make the snow angels, stop and smell the roses and Mark Twain’s ‘dream, explore, discover’. It’s taking that leap and wondering less about the thoughts of ‘what if I fail’ and far more about the changes that come after ‘what if you fly’.
Travel doesn’t have to be big
You don’t have to tick all those boxes either. Changing your mindset is the first step. Make yourself a priority. Make travel a priority. Silence the fear of failure or of being alone. Take the chance that you might not like it do it even if it scares you. Get outside your comfort zone a little and you’ll find that sweet spot of pure accomplishment and joy.
Taking that first step is a game changer. I count myself lucky each time one of those game changing experiences takes place. It happened when I shared my Israel travel journey with my aunt and she said she’d never before seen my face light up like that. It happened when we moved to Australia to live life in a country different to the one I’d always known. And it happened when I jumped into the literal edge of Victoria Falls and lived to tell the tale.
But I didn’t have to travel around the world to have a game-changing experience. It also happened when I took my first visit to the biggest farmer’s market in my home city. It’s also happened when an associate gave me the name of a local Turkish market and by going nearly 15 minutes from home, I relived a travel memory, learned something new, and joined a part of a broader, more diverse community once again.
Those same feelings can also happen each time I take a new yoga class, hike a different trail, get frozen yogurt, or dip toes into the sand at a beach.
Caring for You, the Traveler
Giving yourself the same attention and care you give others isn’t selfish. Choosing you is not only good; it is necessary to your mental and emotional health, welfare and growth potential. Wherever you are in your travel journey, know that it’s possible.
Perhaps it’s getting that book from the library to learn more about that place you’ve always dreamed.
Perhaps it’s starting a Pinterest® board that showcases motivational travel quotes.
Perhaps it’s making a lunch date with a friend and talking about that museum you’ve always wanted to see and how you can get free passes from your local library to go next week.
Or perhaps it’s joining a new group, signing up for a new class, taking on a new endeavor or even only telling yourself that your dreams matter.
Wherever you are – get dressed, book in the time, create the opportunity, seize the day, and start your next journey.
Your perspective will shift, your mindset will broaden, your networks will change, your world will get bigger and with each step you’ll break that comfort zone a little bit more readying yourself for the next adventure. Happy travels.
Fifteen Ways to Find the Meaning of ‘Travel’ in Your Own Backyard
- Get up and go.
- Take a few extra minutes to talk to someone new.
- Get a treat from a new place in the middle of the week.
- Take a walk around a neighborhood you’ve never before explored.
- Say yes more!
- Treat yourself to lunch in a natural setting of your choice, such as picnic on the beach, in the park or watching the ducks sail by at your nearest pond.
- Go for a long drive and enjoy what you experience along the way.
- Treat yourself to a night in a hotel to get away from your schedule.
- Head to a farmer’s market or street fair you’ve always wanted to try.
- Walk into a different place of worship to experience how someone else might see the world.
- Try a different cuisine for the first time to experience a different culture.
- Take a lesson in something you’ve never before done, such as silk-screening, carpentry, horseback riding or paddle boarding?
- Learn a skill or take up a hobby (or revisit a loved one from your past).
- Explode your comfort zone (baby steps totally count) by eating in a restaurant or taking in a movie on your own.
- Build a tribe of like-minded explorers out to seek, find and perhaps shift their own perspective.