Why do you travel? What do you want philosophically from your travels? How do you desire to grow, develop, evolve, and challenge your own beliefs through traveling?
This is an excerpt from our new and upcoming book, TRAVEL NOTES. Subscribe to ERIC KIM NEWSLETTER to be informed once it’s live!
Before and during your travels, I encourage you to get into a “traveling mindset”, which means; reflect on why you want to travel, and use this as an opportunity to get rid of your preconceived notions, truly open up your mind, and allow yourself to be changed, moved, and affected through your travels.
How do you get into a travel mindset?
For myself, I intentionally don’t do research before I travel. The benefit is this: you aporoach a place with truly an open mind, without preconceived notions.
For example, I love France, Paris, Marseille and French people. Yet, whenever I talk to other people or travelers, they always comment on how French are so rude and snobby. Where did they get that notion?
My philosophy is that traveling helps us become more empathetic, more loving, and more open minded. Every country and culture has the pros and cons.
To get into a traveling mindset means to acknowledge what you might perceive as “bad”, but to rather, decide to focus on the positives of a foreign culture and place.
Don’t use TripAdvisor
I am anti tripadvisor. It makes us do the same cookie cutter cliche travels.
Instead I would recommend this:
When you arrive at your local destination, talk to the hotel or airbnb staff/hosts, and ask them: “What do you like to do for fun on the weekends?”
For food recommendations, ask them: “What’s your personal favorite goto places to grab a yummy bite?”
The emphasis is the word, “your”. Don’t ask, “What’s popular?” because you’ll be given cliche tourist recommendations. And also, what’s popular isn’t always what’s good. Otherwise, McDonald’s would be the best “restaurant” in the world, and Starbucks would be the “best” coffee in the world.
Travel to learn more
In Vietnamese there is a saying:
Đi cho biết.
- Di means to go.
- Cho means “for”
- Biet: means to “understand”
To me, I think the benefit of traveling is to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, to expose yourself to novel ideas, life philosophies, to understand more about the world and other people, and to learn more about humanity with your own two eyes!
Direct experience is the best experience
Believe nothing of what you read, believe half of what you hear, and believe three-quarters of what you see.
Direct experience is a Buddhist, zen, Taoist concept in which to truly learn and understand, we must have direct experience with our own two eyes.
There was probably some truth to “doubting Thomas”; be skeptical to the fear tactics that the media and your friends and family say about foreign places. Use traveling to truly understand that Middle Eastern, Islamic people, etc are human beings, just like you! Traveling to Beirut, Lebanon and Dubai has made me so much more open minded about middle eastern folks, whereas most Americans are afraid of Islam (because of fear tactics from the media, in which fear news drives more clicks, eyeballs, and advertising dollars).
Travel to understand more of the world, and to open up your heart and mind to the rest of humanity!
Case study: Natalie and Stoytcho
Our friends Natalie and Stoytcho traveled the globe for a year, and blogged about it (NEVER ENDING EVERYWHERE, because they wanted to better understand the living conditions of people all around the globe, in order to try to figure out:
How can we maximize our strengths to make a positive impact on the world?
They taught me how much social and economic inequality there was in the world, and how incredibly poor some people were, especially in South America, Southeast Asia, and many other countries. By being able to directly experience this inequality, they were able to forn their own judgements and opinions, rather than hearing it second hand from others.
So the lesson is this:
Travel to understand other cultures, but also to better understand yourself.
travel to create!
Traveling can often be a consumptive experience: when we travel we think the purpose is to only consume good food, consume interesting sights with our eyes, consume novel and exotic experiences.
Consumptive practices and consumerism isn’t necessarily bad or evil; it’s only bad when it’s in excess.
To me, I think traveling should be a combination of both consuming and (more importantly), creating!
Therefore my suggestion is this:
Travel in order to create more!
Create while traveling!
Travel with a laptop
This means, travel with a laptop or any other content creation device (it can be your phone, iPad, etc).
Blog about your experiences while you’re on the road. Write while you’re traveling. Share while you’re traveling. Start your own email newsletter with friends and family, and send them updates every once in a while!
You can just send emails via Gmail, or start your own free mailchimp.com email newsletter.