You know I love to travel and explore, it is life at it’s best. In my travels I have learned a great deal about myself and others, and have come to appreciate where I am in my life and be even more grateful for what I have.
Our journeys will take us deep inside ourselves – whether that be to the other side of the world, or to the empty side of our brain. Experience and knowledge easily emerge from the warm caress of traveling, or as I like to call it, moving through time. I witnessed time travel this morning, when I woke up to November. No longer Halloween, no more hot summer days, no more freshly opened blooms along the promenade. Things have changed as the earth orbited around the sun. A new season has been introduced, putting all that was before, behind us. Crisp autumn, the leaves traveled to the ground bumping the top of my head as I walked for morning coffee. Everyone is bustling, traveling, moving, going somewhere, going nowhere, wandering, lost, in-sync, out of step, obsessed, or in love, with their journey.
Moving through time. Time traveling.
“I have learned through my travels how to discover freely, with an open heart, mind, and spirit, and more importantly how to accommodate myself to my surroundings.”
I have been lucky to travel the world on the corporate dime and enjoy first-class everything, and I have ventured out on my own to literally (well… almost) travel by the seat of my pants. In both scenarios the adventures are real and fascinating, making me feel alive and one with the world. Since I work for myself; I am always working. I take my clients to Paris, or Cambodia, Italy or New York, wherever I am, they are with me. As a result, I have learned to accommodate myself in my travels to work, eat, play and explore on my own and to be smart with my time and logistics, and most importantly how to skillfully stretch my budget. Running on a limited amount of money and time is super challenging, but I honestly think it creates a rich atmosphere for discovery. It keeps you sharp and creative and in the now. Being in the moment is the most important thing to me when I travel, as it is in my daily life.
I have learned through my travels how to discover freely, with an open heart, mind, and spirit, and more importantly how to accommodate myself to my surroundings. Good lessons to learn in this life. As in everything else, I do my best to keep myself in my time travel aligned with my personal mission:
“To be increasingly aware and open to love and the expression of human kindness, to understand and embrace my gifts, human feelings and desires, to recover from heavy religious thinking and embrace the freedom of becoming fully human.”
In traveling through time, I have developed a few tips that I have found sync-up with living in my daily personal life. I want to share the wealth of these insights with you. It’s interesting that these tips started out in my journal as notes I scribbled on the plane, in a shop, or hotel room, after having had an encounter of one kind or another… “NOTE TO SELF!!” Now it seems like they have moved beyond the surface of the page, as an allegorical guide to traveling – through time, and life – so be aware to listen and see these with your heart.
You are exploring a new place, let go of home and the way things usually are and be open to learning new things: “when in Rome do as the Roman’s do”.
Life lesson: Let go of control and of the past. Move forward and go with the flow, embracing each moment.
Know where you’re going. Do your research on where you stay and why. What’s around your destination? Are you in walking distance of the things you want to see? Half the fun is enjoying the vibe of an area, the people, the culture, and the food. Choose where you stay based on that and what you want to do. Don’t be uneducated.
Life lesson: Know yourself and what you want. You don’t always know where you’re going but if you know your own heart then you can carve a path to your destination.
Do as much on foot as possible. There is no better way to discover a city or destination than walking it.
Life lesson: Don’t take short cuts; be willing to face your problems head on. Be willing to travel into your own heart to discover your passions and what you want.
Talk to the locals – the wait staff, the storeowners, other tourists, wherever you can find other opinions – but remember they are only opinions! Use the locals to find the hidden treasures away from the tourist areas. Glean the knowledge and then make your decision.
Life lesson: Get wise consul, have a trusted confidant, be willing to listen to those who know and love you, then let your own wise judgment take it from there.
Put away your fear. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers, make conversation, meet new friends, try new places and experience new adventures. Be smart; be confident, but not cocky.
Life lesson: Reject fear, it is at the root of all our unhappiness. Know yourself. Choose life and love. There is nothing to fear.
Be complimentary and kind, don’t be a bitch – ever. Be nice!
Life lesson: Love yourself, forgive yourself, respect yourself, and then spread that to others. Remember, when you smile at the world, the world will smile back at you (an ancient Japanese proverb).
Get comfortable in your lodging. Make your little space your own, especially on an extended stay. When you first arrive make it work to provide comfort and convenience. I have been known to move furniture around to my liking in order to make my digs feel more comfy. I mean really, a little feng shui never hurts, just be careful not to get yourself in trouble with the owners!
Life lesson: Get comfortable in your own skin. Accept and embrace your life and who you are right now. Not yesterday’s you, or who you want to be, but who you are right now. Create life habits that will support you; choose to be with people who love and respect you. Furnish the rooms of your mind with love and gratefulness and a strong will to thrive.
Don’t go crazy with food and drink – pace yourself! Test foods to make sure they settle well with you. Follow local recommendations and suggestions from other tourists, especially if you are traveling internationally. The last thing you want to do is spend part of your trip in the bathroom or in bed, or worse, in a hospital. And besides, overindulging will rob your time, making you sluggish and destroy a good day of discovery!
Life lesson: Empty your thoughts of things that aren’t good for you. You know what they are. Perhaps it is want and desire for what you don’t have, selfishness, ungratefulness, hate, envy, and gossip – these things are like a syrupy drug that creates an addiction to mediocrity and self-centeredness. Focus your mind instead on living in the now and doing your best at whatever is in front of you.
Just don’t. Not ever. Here or abroad.
Life lesson: Don’t have sex with strangers. Don’t expose yourself to vulnerabilities in life situations without first knowing the costs and who you’re “getting into bed with”.
If you are traveling internationally, Asia, Africa, etc., check with your local health care agency before leaving on what shots you need or are required to have to enter the country. This is very important. You wouldn’t want to contract or bring home a disease that could cost you your life! If your “eco-system” is sensitive (and most of ours are when traveling), consider taking along freeze-dried food and a small portable water filter system when you are going to remote or underdeveloped areas of the world.
Life lesson: Get educated. Don’t be ignorant about any situation you go into. Improve your knowledge, your talents and skills, and hone in on your acquired intuition and common sense. Knowledge is the best pill to ward off the affliction of poverty and other fatal life diseases. Wisdom, love and understanding is the cure.
Stay in the moment, but take a ton of photos so those moments won’t fade. Take an extra battery or two and extra memory cards for your camera. That way you have a backup if one crashes or gets broken or lost. If you shoot film, be sure to protect your film and take 800 ISO and up so you are not limited to daylight. “The best camera is the one that’s with you” so don’t worry, just shoot!
Life lesson: Stay in the moment of now. Take notice of the details around you and examine the nuances of each day, then take a memory snap to tuck into your heart of gratefulness. The best moment of your life is right now.
Ship your purchases home. It’s less stressful and easier and sometimes cheaper to ship your purchases home rather than taking them with you. Airline travel is not easy or cheap anymore. You will travel with less stress the lighter you go. In some circumstances, you can take an extra large suitcase and fill it up with soft goods you purchase on your trip. It’s well worth the airlines $25-50 extra baggage fee in lieu of shipping costs.
Life lesson: Let go of the past. (This seems to be something the Universe is trying to teach me, as it always comes up in my life experiences!!) Choose not to carry the baggage of the past with you. Don’t worry about things you can’t change. Lighten up on this journey! I have this note on my desk to remind me “Turn loose and move forward”.
Reach out or make friends with connections on Facebook who live in the areas you are traveling to. Online friends from all over the world make great connections and can help you with their language, and other key local information that will prove helpful when traveling to their country.
Life lesson: Don’t be afraid to get advice on matters of the heart and life. There are people in your sphere who have gone through the same things you have, and they may offer a perspective that will bring clarity to you and your situation.
Gift yourself! Always buy one thing on your trip to bring home that represents your adventure. So many times we get caught up in buying gifts for others that we come home empty-handed. There is nothing like a home that is furnished with decor from your travels – reflecting your soul and decorating your home. Wearing a scarf, or piece of jewelry you bought yourself along the way brings a certain comfortable energy to your soul when you wear it. Keep the memory of your trip with a gift to yourself.
Life lesson: Live out loud. Be bold. Have a voice. Let your experiences and the wisdom you have gained along the way be a beacon to others. Let it decorate and be a light to your own heart!
Stay away from tourist traps. Don’t sign up for excursions and other such tourist activities until after you check in and explore the area. This is where doing your research will pay off. Two schools of thought here: 1-some want to go it alone and find their own adventures; 2 -others aren’t as adventurous and want to be a part of a group tour. Decide what you are happiest doing. Big cities and larger hotels will have options to choose from. You can talk to the concierge for ideas and itineraries. In places like Mexico and other tropical destinations, beware of the excursions they make you sign up for when you first arrive. Many of the “all inclusive” hotels make their money by pressuring you into those tours even before checking into your room. Beware of this; those activities usually suck. Do your research first.
Life lesson: Avoid things that are mediocre [low quality, value, ability, or performance: ordinary, so-so]. Mediocrity is what lulls us to sleep in our journey and snuffs out the originality of our souls. It drowns out our unique voice and turns it into the white noise of the masses. Be aware. Embrace quality.
Don’t go out drinking by yourself. I mean it! Don’t allow yourself to get over served when you are out alone. Bad things can happen in an unknown city or country to a solo-person who is intoxicated.
Life lesson: Create a network of love and friendship around you and reach out to them when you feel down or lonely. We’ve all been there. And seriously, don’t go out drinking alone!
Stay aware of your surroundings and your personal items at all times.
Life lesson: Stay in the moment. Again, be aware. Give your attention to what is at hand. This is daily practice.
Keep a copy of your passport ID in your wallet or purse. Keep a PDF copy of it electronically on the cloud. Keep the original in a safe and protected place.
Life lesson: Know your identity. Know who you are in your heart, not just your ego/persona, but who is the person behind the mask? Know her/him, love her, and keep her close to your heart.
Let the phone company know you are traveling. If traveling out of the country, purchase an international plan for your phone, or download an app that allows texts, calls and media sharing via Wi-Fi. There are many options out there.
Call the bank. The big boys need to know where you’re going to make your banking easier while you travel. Tell them what city and country you are traveling to and let them guide you as to best practices for that area. It’s very frustrating to be in another country and try to make a purchase with a credit/debit card to embarrassingly be denied because the bank thinks it’s fraudulent. Calling them in advance will eliminate this from happening.
Life lesson: Always do your part to keep the lines of communications open to your loved ones, friends, and clients and family. We all need each other.
Once you get your phone and data plan figured out, share your trip with friends and family online. Having that connection when you travel abroad will provide a sense of comfort, plus its fun! Now, if you are going away to get away, then turn the phone off and enjoy your privacy, but always have a backup plan with loved ones at home in case of an emergency.
Life lesson: Share your journey in life with others. Notice the lives of your loved ones in return. This is what brings us closer together.
Make sure someone at home knows where you are and how to reach you. Make sure your travel companion and/or destination contact knows how to reach your emergency contact at home. When you travel abroad by yourself, it is a good idea to consult the American Embassy in that area for best practices for emergency contact, if needed.
Life lesson: Keep loved ones close, it’s an added joy to have people who know and love you to go along with you in your journey. We will always need a backup in life.
You don’t need all that stuff! Less is more. Get small containers for your regular beauty products so you take only what you need for the trip. Take basic clothing you can mix and match. Comfortable clothes are the ticket!
Life lesson: Less is more. Less responsibility and baggage that weighs you down emotionally will allow you more freedom to move along in your journey without restraint.
I’m not kidding. It can mean the difference in an “adventure” or the trip from hell. A MUST! And if you are going to a fashionable area, buy the fashion there, it’s just more fun and maybe you won’t look too much like a tourist. ; )
Life lesson: Moving through life is like time travel. You will travel more efficiently through your many seasons when you wear the comfort provided by being light-hearted and light on your feet – less weight imposed by excess baggage and emotions.
24. KEEP A JOURNAL
Keep a journal of your thoughts and experiences throughout your trip. Take notes, keep mementoes of places you have visited. Collect business cards of places you have made purchases from. Do not underestimate the importance of a journal.
Life lesson: Looking back on your own experiences and the details of your life are not meant to keep you in the past, but rather provide a road map of your life to learn from. In the same way, daily taking note of the now moment and how you are feeling heightens your awareness and keeps your heart in check with what is real.
Featured image: Jennifer Lawrence © Annie Leibovitz September 2017 Vogue Cover.