Travel is first and foremost a journey of the spirit.
At our core we are travelers; we travel through time from moment to the next. We travel through our emotions from bliss to despair. Our very nature is ever “departing and arriving” simultaneously.
With these truths in mind we need to understand that the physical act of donning a backpack and tramping around the globe is a call that has moved mankind since times unremembered.
We need to strike out, perhaps down an unfamiliar path, perhaps across merciless and unknown lands and seas. This is all the more difficult when we have trouble conquering our own inner landscape.
Here are 5 techniques for improving inner travel.
1. Cultivate Awareness
The earthly wonders of traveling can be greatly enhanced by practicing awareness of our inner journey. By awareness I mean feelings of calm, attentiveness, curiosity and peace.
Travel naturally encourages awareness. Thrust into astounding and unfamiliar circumstances the traveler takes it in with wide eyes and an open mind.
A good way to maintain awareness is to meditate: calming your mind or quietly concentrating on something beautiful. Whatever can bring you into the present moment, eyes shut or open, on a bus, or the beach.
Meditation allows room for your mind to rest and reflect on all that your travels have brought you so far.
2. Travel without expectations.
Simply put, let the place be what it is. We all are guilty of casting predictions and building places up in our mind.
“This will blow me away, I have heard so much about that…” brochures, pictures and fellow travelers accounts can not go far in predicting what your experience with a place or people will be.
When I have fretted for my safety, it was unneeded. When I lifted a place up in my mind, I was disappointed.
I can be certain no traveler will experience a cathedral or village exactly the same as me, so precedent is nothing. Abolish expectations and you leave room for the beautiful flux of reality and the truly unique experience that awaits.
3. Say Yes!
The most important word in a travelers vocabulary is YES. Yes opens doors and sets an extra place for dinner. Yes makes you friends, finds you rides, saves your neck and gives you something to write home about.
True, there are times for no, and you will know when these are…but to let go and relinquish the journey is to embrace yes.
Why would you want to let go? Because you are not in control anyway. Yes means forgetting everything you have learned about rides with strangely aromatic men and taking candy from strangers. Yes finds you a hotel, checks you in and pays your first night until you can get money wired to you.
Pop your personal bubble, and say yes to the journey!
4. Express yourself.
Creatively express yourself while traveling. This is something you will appreciate like aged wine long after you have returned to your flat and your cat.
Journal about your day or write letters home, it doesn’t have to be much, just relate what you are experiencing and perhaps recount seem nugget of truth you have discovered.
Sit in a crowd and sketch faces or architecture. Take photos and share them with friends and love ones online. Perhaps one of the most rewarding ways to express yourself and connect with your journey more deeply is to start a blog you update frequently.
This gives everyone a window into what is no doubt an incredible journey and allows you room to process the triumphs and tragedies that are sure to befall.
Photos, poetry, or painting, blogging, songwriting… just give your adventures a voice that will immortalize the journey forever.
5. Get out there and smile
You are in some town or village; no doubt there are other travelers milling about.
Remember, while these folks speak your language and are certainly fun to hang out with, you didn’t fly halfway around the world to drink beers with some guy named Chet from L.A.
Wander a ways off the well beaten tourist track. Once you notice the faces of your kith and kin diminish and locals are the rule, remember this simple instruction; smile.
If you’re like me you probably can’t help it anyway, but I know sometimes it is easy to feel distant and shy in new cultures. Let your smile be the key that unlocks doors to cultural exchange and genuine human experience.
It is the one language we all share that needs no translation.
Remember, we never stop traveling. The more you can be aware of life’s overall journey the deeper you will experience the individual moments.
What techniques do you use for improving your inner travel? Share in the comments!