Traveling, How $o?
There is literally NOTHING like Traveling; for your empathetic intelligence, your self-confidence, your perception expansion, your internal compass, moving about is the best educator. Taking yourself out of your daily routine, and your comfort zone... rediscovering your resilience... sharing with strangers... learning the tones and nuances in a second or third etc. language.
iTravel, and I invite you to do so as well... Not as a keeper of any key, but like you, as a mutual beneficiary of the world's bounty and beauty. These fine days, there are many ways to travel and some of them come at no cost to you. So, we gotta talk, Homie.
Please travel. And travel to countries or regions with different religions than yours, and different languages than yours, and even different governments than yours! Travel within your own country too, if you can do both! You can safely travel to even the thirdest, of the third-worlds (MWAHAHAHAH). First things first, however: GET A PASSPORT!
- Get a passport
- Consult a travel agent or website to get an idea of your price point and plan the itinerary. Ask yourself why you are traveling. If it help or enriches your experience, you might consider writing down your goals for your journey and referring back to them both within and after your trip.
- Ask yourself... "Do I need visas to travel to these destinations?" If yes: Get visa. I put getting the visa first because you MUST have these to travel safely (Your girl (me) has been detained before because of visa issues so, just trust me). Even if the consulate asks that you provide dates of travel and copies of tickets, you can usually provide itineraries you make online, without actually purchasing the ticket itself. If you don't get your visa, it's not a great idea to travel. Although, you can usually buy these at the customs desk of any airport? So... rules are pointless money schemes... that can get you arrested.
- Consistently keep an eye out for ticket deals and purchase your ticket before you take any time off from work
- Research any necessary precautions (anti-malarials, seasonal/weather, local customary dress and behavior)
- Crack open a language book and learn something. You would be surprised how much of a difference it makes, even if you do embarrass yourself a few times, locals appreciate the effort.
While traveling, compare and contrast historical narratives. Examine the practice of nationalism and patrimony. Check in with yourself often about what and how you are experiencing, and how you are contributing to enriching your experiences. Eat everything, except what's too familiar from home (Maybe once but seriously, come on!), and regret nothing. Make up false identities in airports around the world! AFTER you pass security and not with airport personnel. Okay... maybe don't. (But do!)
Let's be real tho, traveling right now is crazy expensive; Not just your ticket price, but lodging, food, and whatever you need to continue to pay for at home (kids, pets, bills, rent, PTO days you won't ever see again and clients, work, and projects you can't stop worrying about).
Just start saving! $5/week in a shoebox, or if you are wiser and better-organized, in a newly opened bank account, reserved for travel plans. If you want to travel within the year, I suggest a percentage of your paycheck. Look up general ticketing costs and plan to save about that much plus a food and discovery budget for activities and incidentals.
Some people are getting beaucoup bucks just from crowd funding, but I think it feels good to get a job or volunteer where you want to go. Talk to friends and hit up the mighty interweb to do some research on the cheapest ways to travel. DO NOT IGNORE THE POWER OF THE TRAVEL AGENT! They still exist, and often know where to find the cheapest flights. Ask about additional costs (which should be minimal if at all).
Look for cheap flights and packages online, and be sure to cross-reference with optimal travel times for your destination. Maybe there's a good reason that ticket to paradise is only $30... Could be a deal... Could be monsoon season... Could be amazing... Could be a hassle. Consider and COMMIT (I usually prefer going in the off-seasons... cheaper, cooler, weirder, etc.).
House-sit/swap/swoosh. Crew a boat. Sounds like a bit much, but you might transport vehicles or other legal fair for pay. Ryanair.com, kayak.com and easyjet.com have some good deals and new sites pop up constantly. Shoot, if you are in college, hit up study abroad QUICKLY. You could enter into service trips or assist somewhere professionally.
Look for jobs, which can be part-time or contracted, which would allow you to travel on someone else's dime, contributing and gleaning skills. Be aware of education abroad, volunteering networks, reputable exchange programs with good leadership, these are all excellent and enriching ways of experiencing travel.
You may find government-affiliated, non-profits, or private organizations which fit your specific needs, i.e. time frame, responsibilities, resume building, etc. Something the kids call WWOOF the new groovy thang; Peace Corps is intense and incredible, but not for every unicorn; Church-affiliated programs (but I encourage you to look for more immersive experiences and not just building projects where you visit the market on saturdays and stay in a hostel. stay with locals when possible always. you don't know shit, don't pretend you'll find anything out, but you definitely won't learn much of anything new in a boutique hotel, eating familiar, and speaking English 24/7). Put out an open hand, and people will grasp it. Consider all your options, because there are so many organizations out there with huge budgets for volunteers, even scholarships!
A Note (or several) About Traveling:
Allow the empathy rather than the narcissism, set in. A lot of stuff will go down while you travel. Swindling... Swaddling... Sacrifice... Sickness... Fatigue... Phatness... Amazing fashions... Horrible customer service... Harrowing drives up mountains... Humbling generosity... Grumbling condescension (usually from airline employees, who, all in all, suck; statistics prove! SCIENCE YIELDS TO NONE!)... You will encounter many opportunities to lose your head, and I suggest you just chill instead. I'm not necessarily talking about maintaining zen (which I do suggest, because its good for you), but I am saying sometimes getting harassed, then subsequently getting harassed by police for the right hook your threw at your harasser, and reflecting upon all the healthy hours you could have spent learning the local word for 'Cheers!' ... Thas jus nothanku!
So... just so we are clear:
Don't lose your passport. Just... its important. So don't lose it. IF you do this terrible and unforgivable thing, call/get to the consulate as soon as you can. US passports are worth a lot on the Black Market (MWAhahahaha), so don't go waving that thing around. Your travel documents, like visas and passports, are a pain to replace, not to mention expen$ive.
Move about, head-attached. No one is out to get you; but you might get got if you put it all out there. Reserve personal details, and carry small amounts of money or cards that require a pin. Don't let anyone hold your bags, if you must surrender your bags like at a museum, keep your valuables in your pockets, better still a smaller handbag. If a situation feels shady, looks shady, sounds shady, it prolly is shady. You should never put anything you need in your back pocket (even though I do this all the time). Let's not get merc'd young god. IF you do get robbed, move the fk on, it happens. Even the Holy Passport is no good reason to get hurt so just, move on I guess. Do not employ a local friend to help you chase down the person(s) who 'borrowed rudely' from you. I can neither confirm nor deny that I have done this, and can neither confirm nor deny, it was really fun, albeit really dangerous. Wait, I can confirm it was dangerous, but only by inference... and maybe a small bit of experience, or not. Thankuthatisall
Don't lose your head. Alas... Your bags can be lost. Your flight can (and will mwahahah) be delayed. You might get bad service, because seriously, people are the worst, everywhere. Stop acting like you aren't resilient enough to see through your negative experiences. There's not much of a meter for me; I am always working on this. Trust, anger will only ruin your travels. WOOOOO-SAAAAAHH; breathe.
Try to respect local customs. Everyone can tell you are a foreigner just by the way you walk, where your eyes go when you speak, your gestures, so take care. That doesn't mean be paranoid, but you should be paranoid. Okay okay, open to new experiences but Homie, when in Mazar-e-Sharif... do as the Mazar-e-Sharifis, feel me? If you are taking the risk of not following these customs, be sure not to cite your freedoms at people who stare or disapprove. You can be arrested abroad and serve time in prison. So don't be silly, now. Be aware there's no reason why you cannot travel safely, almost anywhere in the world. That is your decision, as the traveler. Getting wasted, alone and lost is a bad situation, anywhere. You (most likely) do not need Liam Neeson, you will not be Taken 4 (5?). Be your best self, and be careful, like anywhere.
Don't ever assume because you've traveled, you know it all. If you are lucky enough to visit another place, try to add depth to your experiences. Make local friends. Eat at someone's house for dinner (bring the wine! or bring the ceremonial goat, whichever is best!). Buff up on language. Just be amazed at how much more you can always learn about the environments you spend time in.
Be Free. I realize that some of this may scare folks who haven't traveled much yet. That's fine. Fear and excitement are all part of the thing, but neither are the whole story, and both may lead to your most memorable experiences in life. Traveling is not merely about observation. You have to try that interactive learning. Don't be afraid to embarrass yourself, to learn how to say 'pardon me,' with the perfect accent, be prepared with a wet wipe, because hand sanitizer won't help you when there's no toilet paper, and always travel as light as possible... Alas, I am still learning about the Scientific law:
When x=you and x also =2suitcases + 103 degree weather x (train station stairs) x (elevator/escalator) then x=totally fkd.
In life, we are at home and guests, all at once, in the same place, at the same time. Explore this world around you, on your own itinerary, by your own imagination. In my travels, I have benefitted greatly from learning the local languages, proverbs, culture, and customs to the best of my ability... as I get older I have learned how to be mindful of my 'otherness' no matter where I am. Respect and understand your privileges, your otherness, your ego, your knowledge, and your body, everywhere you go. Your general security and enjoyment will depend on it.
Do your best, Homie, you will grow. Don't hold back to see the blue sea or feel the cold of the snow, maybe you want to know what secrets the mountains hold, perhaps the stories the old languages told. Just be bold, fit in, so you can eventually stand out and break the mold.
Travel even if its down the road! Get to know what you want to know. Respect means, no fear, never. So respect is what to show and behold.
Travel well, Homie!