The travelist way:
After packing she rolls a light bag, slings a backpack, or carries a small satchel onto the plane bound for foreign climes. On arrival she steps through the exit door, sloughing off jet lag and stretching her calves with every step away from the escalator, taking stairs instead to get to customs.
He may stop for cup of coffee on the way, noting if there’s a fair trade label. May check into a private room rented from a online membership forum or stay in a tony, boutique hotel, but he’ll definitely check his email, Facebook or twitter, before unpacking and stepping into the daylight to explore or the night to find a meal.
A travelist is discerning and may take a cruise, but on a river or a smaller vessel than the megaliths that plow the seas. She is looking for experience and not escape; to immerse herself in new places and carries home within confidently, or acknowledges feeling vulnerable in new surroundings. Instead of doubling down to push through,he or she opens to meet others, seeking common ground and find familiarity in that universal human condition.
Are you a world travelist?
Do you lust for adventure and not just any get away, but one that opens you to the world, to connection, to perhaps service through tourism; knowing that in our changing world, what we support with our presence grows? Do you insulate yourself in resorts that mirror your culture, never stepping outside of compounds or away from other like-minded travelers? Do you open up to ways to connect with host cultures, peoples and ways of life, on their terms, in villages, cities and streets?
A travelist is born:
I’ve been fortunate to travel often over the years, but the idea of being a travelist came to me slowly over more recent trips. I found myself the underwater Sherpa to my photographer boyfriend, in a number of exotic locales before I realized that it was necessary to step away from the camera and outside the compounds, hotels and resorts, to really feel like I’d experienced a place. I had to cut time from the focused reason we ventured to those places and look for other local connections. I came home from those first trips to Fiji with dozens of stories but felt lacking for not walking the villages, talking more deeply with our hosts, stepping into the Indian or Buddhist temples and the Christian churches that rose from low hillsides that our dive boats passed. Who were the people who lived there? What were their lives like? Was my trip offering them a way to live or infringing on their comforts? I started looking for answers.
Embracing travelist ways means traveling with discernment, working constantly to stay present and open to experience.
A spiritual mentor once said, “All change is good.” I’ve wrestled with that idea. Change is hard. Travel is full of change and can certainly be challenging. We look for connection through familiarity, but Pico Iyer, author and I dare say a quintessential travelist, claims that he can find home anywhere because he carries it inside, “…always moving, always still.” I long for that space and comfort, of stillness within while moving without, and it begs a bigger question that each of us must answer for ourselves. It takes time to know who you are and while traveling you may need to leave space and simply be present. Instead of packing every moment of a trip, find moments to reflect and notice what really resonates and then change as need be.
To let a place find us, means leaving blank lines on the itinerary.
In America we often work long hours and look forward to two weeks a year for vacations. The internet has made it easy to sample the world, to add to a bucket list of destinations, to search out ways to get the most for our money and time. It’s never been easier to travel and one growing trend is toward all-inclusive vacations. They’re first affordable and easy. Cruise ship passengers unpack once and float between ports where they disembark for a matter of hours, rush through notable sights in a clutch of fellow tourists and then hurry back to their floating lodging and onto the next port. They see the world through a narrow, protected lens and return home, rested, full and resume their lives.
Some travelers are looking for guarantees, emphasizing value for money and time. Tour companies of all manners work hard to promise that. All-inclusive resorts for couples, or families, or seniors offer pictures of blissful couples, pool parties and smiling families. Hotel chains offer vacation packages with spas, health camps for luxury and extreme adventurists. Brochures and websites tout beautiful beaches, meals and playground activities. We’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time – just sign up and sign in, everything will be take care of. It may be the trip of a lifetime but do you come home enriched from connecting with a people and place very different than your home? Do you remember the people of the islands, the villages, the street markets and shops, the food stands and roadside restaurants? Are you changed, opened up and satisfied?
Come back for part two, next week as we explore those questions. There’ll also be more stories, pictures and discoveries.
What kind of travel do you prefer? Share your adventures below with a comment or suggestion. Out into the world, fellow travelist!
Join us at the
San Diego Trav Fest this fall.
Over the weekend of Sept. 13 – 14th connect with fellow travelers, learn from travel experts and authors, try some new tastes and brews and meet our travel industry partners. Win prizes with photo contests. Watch Travel Shorts at our Movie Night and enjoy the Battle of the Bands and Food Truck dining at our Street Party benefiting SD Oceans Foundation. New events and details are being added weekly.
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