After a two year absence, the travel bug has bitten me once again and I’m determined to escape the confines of the United States and see the rest of the world. It always comes around, every couple of years, this burning itch and anxiety to get on a plane, a train, a car, or bus and just go somewhere. Anywhere.
I’m not totally sure why it happens. One moment I’m fine in the place I am, the next moment I’m filled with the anxious rush of needing to be anywhere else. I think it’s because I just need a change of scenery, a change of pace from the usual monotonous routine that life usually takes you on when you’ve been sedentary for a bit too long. Humans used to be nomads, a long, long time ago–and maybe its still wired in some of us genetically–the need to move and not stay stationary.
Travel, I find, is one of the most defining experiences in a person’s life. It opens your eyes to new experiences; allows you to learn, un-learn, and re-learn and interact with people from all walks of life–if you do it the right way. And you have to do it the right way–even though there’s no one right way–it’s just the way that you feel most comfortable with, the best way possible.
But let me qualify that statement. A lot of times, when people travel, they go to beach cities, metropolitan areas, and do tourist-y things so that they can take lots of pictures to post on their Instagram/SnapChat/Facebook. It’s not like they’re actually experiencing life, meeting new people, taking a break, enjoying the scenery. They’re there for incredibly superficial and artificial reasons that probably give them more anxiety than the actual anxiety that comes with the need to travel.
I completely disagree with everything these people are doing. Which is probably why I deleted my Instagram and Facebook apps from my phone–never to be seen from or head of again. But that’s my own personal qualms with the social media world in general–if you like it there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone has their own preferences.
Traveling as always been such an eye-opening and learning experience for me because you get to see how someone from another country lives, how the rest of the world lives, and how they view the daily operations and the big events of what’s going on globally. I spent the better part of my childhood making my way through Eastern Asia. I’ve gotten lost, been found, got sick, and experienced a whole lot of life. You learn some street smarts when you travel through a big city like Tokyo or Taiwan alone, or the country sides of Japan (Hokkaido) or Korea– with nothing to navigate you but a map and a general sense of direction.
But the only way to do that? Avoid the typical tourist-y areas–go to underground bars and restaurants, local music shows and plays, explore the country side and eat with a host family. Don’t limit yourself to what you simply see on Instagram while scrolling through your News Feed. At that point your only doing a disservice to yourself. You spend all that money in order to just get the same views that you could see at home, to do the same things that you would do at home. What was the point of even leaving in the first place if you were just going to do that?
Plus, no one ever said you had to travel far and to a foreign country in order for it to be considered “traveling.” State to State, the United States is a large and vast country and each state has its own culture and way of life. Why not take a brief road trip to the next state over and see what it’s all about? Why obsess over social media and image anymore than you already do? Turn off your phone, pack a bag, ask for a couple days off work, and just go.
Not to say that you shouldn’t do at least some of the typical tourist-y stuff. They’re there for a reason and if you’re just dipping your toe into the world of traveling (or gasp, traveling alone), then typical tourist-y things can help set the foundation.
What’s the worst that can happen? You have a bad time? Actually no, the worst that could happen is that you could get murdered, or your car could break down in the middle of the night and you could get murdered again…or freeze. But here’s the thing, those things are just as likely to happen no matter where you go. Considering I live in South Central LA, they’re more likely to happen than if I traveled to somewhere else.
At the end of the day, you’ll know your doing okay and pretty self-sufficient the moment you can go into a random city or country completely alone and navigate your way through while still having a good time. It’s not for the faint of heart and I’ve only met a few people who could do it completely on their own but it is worth it to at least try to attempt it. Shed the usual dependency you have and go out, because “Adventure is Out There.”