Week #6: Indie Travel Mainfesto

Week 6 prompt : This week for the Indie Travel Challenge 2012, we want to know what you think about the Indie Travel Manifesto.  Does it resonate with you? Do you think, based on the tenets of the Manifesto, that you are an indie traveler? Create your own manifesto for the way you travel, and share it with the community!

One of the reasons I wanted to take part in the Indie Travel Challenge is because I can associate myself with the ideals and values the website showcases. The articles tend to focus on things I can relate to and have interest in. They recently put out a manifesto that can be read here .

Although I travel a lot, I do not often analyze why I love it so much or how it has helped me grow. It was refreshing to read the manifesto and examine what I take away from my travel experiences. Traveling has opened my eyes to new cultures, languages, and ways of life. I have been able to see and do things I thought I would only be able to read about on the web. Each experience leaves me with something I can take away. Whether it is learning how to say hello and how are you in Russian or a new perspective on an old topic. Travel has made me more aware of the world around me. It has given a hunger for more. For every city I cross off my list, I think I add about 3 more! It is incredible to me to find that although some places seem worlds apart of where I grew up and what I know, I can find similarities and connect with the people there. I have found that similarities connect people but the differences are beautiful as well.

There is probably nothing more different from the French mentality and the American mentality. My French friends say the same thing. They have no idea why Americans are so happy, confident, and emotional; while we Americans are still scratching our heads over the horrible service, apathy, and complex nature of the French. However, it is my time in France that has taught my patience and acceptance of things beyond my control. I have learned to slow down and enjoy the smaller things in life. And I like to think that my constant smiles and humor has brought a bit of light into my office. I no longer romanticize my life in Paris, I understand it. Paris will always hold a special place in my heart but I am happy to see it for what it is and truly love it, not just the idea of it.

My goals as well as the things I find important in my life have been altered. I guess falling under the category of the manifesto: Defining your values, exploring your beliefs, and crafting your own meaning for life. This also leads into dynamic possibilities because now all I see is a world of opportunity rather than the box I thought I had to fit into in California.

This is what travel is about for me. Taking something and leaving something behind. Dispelling the stereotypes or perceived opinions and searching for the truth. I search for the experience, not something to cross of my to-do list. I want to share drinks with the locals and learn about their life… make a meaningful connection. I want to see the city for what it really is and not what the guide-book tells me.

This is just my beliefs. I am not cutting down different ways of travelling and I too pick up the occasional guide-book. The point is, travel is about experience and about personal growth. I constantly forget the names of cathedrals I have been or paintings I have seen, but I almost always can tell you about the conversations I had with the people I met or the exact taste of the food I tried. When talking about my trip to Belgium, I might not mention the Church of the Sacred Heart but I will tell you that my best friend and I got lost and spent over an hour taking pictures of the street art in a little neighborhood. When highlighting my trip to Austria, I probably won’t tell you much about what I saw in Vienna but can go on for hours about the typical Austrian lunch I shared with Aggie’s family. To me, these are the moments I value. I love seeing the wonderful tourist attraction the cities provide but I also love to feel the city and find out what makes it tick.

I am not sure how well I hit the prompt on the head and I think it might be another case of serious rambling. But thank you BootNAll, you inspired me.

Week 3: Learning Through Travel

Here is Week 3 BootsnAll’s Indie Travel Challenge:

Have you ever studied or taken classes on a trip? What did you study, and perhaps more importantly, what did you learn while on that trip?  What would you like to learn on your travels this year?

I have been living abroad for a little over a year and a half now. I frequently like to reflect and look at all this year has given me. It actually is a bit overwhelming to think back to the day I stood in the security line, equipped with a backpack and suitcase in hand, staring back at the anxious and tear-filled faces of my parents. At that moment I had no idea what the next year for me would bring or if I was making the right choice. A part of me wanted to jump out of line and back into their arms of safety, cradled with in love and support. But also those arms represented everything I already knew and I was ready for something different. At that, I took a deep breath and continued in line to security.

Now, how does this relate to this week’s prompt? Well, because with that one step I started the learning process. I learned that I have more courage than I ever thought. But this wasn’t all I learned. My time in France has been some of the best education I have received. In a formal sense, I cannot speak too highly on the French classes I have participated in; however, learning a new language has been part of my education here. Outside the classroom is where I believe I have gained the most. Not only have I opened my eyes to the world around me: new cultures, new foods, new languages, new customs, the list goes on; but also I have learned about myself. There are things I have done that I never thought I could be capable of. I have simultaneously had the best and worst year of my life. Because of the hardships, I have been able to appreciate what I have more greatly.

My very first trip to Europe was with a group and was an organized tour. I only got 10 days and 3 different cities. When I look back on that trip, I remember the way I felt and all the things I saw. Yes, I did learn about new thing however I my level of learning was very shallow. I only got to skim the surface of what really made up all of these magnificent cities. I took away history and fun facts, but did I really know what made these cities tick? No. And that wasn’t any fault of mine. It merely was my limited time and my lack of exposure in travelling to these places. As I said, I was with a group. There were my friends, teachers, mentors. It was familiar. I blindly followed the tour guide, rarely having to think about where I was going or how I was getting there. I never had to communicate with someone who spoke a different language than me. My interactions with locals were extremely limited. To me, it is all these factors that add to the education you get while travelling.

When taken out of your comfort zone, you are required to adapt and to learn. You are forced to be flexible to surroundings and in that you are developing more knowledge of that around you. You are more aware because you have to be—it’s new, undiscovered territory. Because of that, the wine tastes better, the bread smells better, the people are prettier. But when you are really able to delve further you also are faced with fear and uncertainty. In order to accumulate you have to fight this and in this process you are learning not only about your surroundings but about your capabilities to adapt.

This year I would like to continue the journey I am on by taking advantage of everything I have in front of me. I want to kick it up a notch 🙂 I hope to not only improve my French, but also learn other languages (like improve my elementary Spanish!) New cultures and different countries will continue to provide me with fresh perspectives and increase my thirst for more. To be honest, I would also really like to learn what it is I actually want. I mean, I know the basics of what I want but I have yet to figure out what will make me truly happy. Well, I lied. What would make me happy would to be a travel writer and photography and continue to travel the world. I guess what I mean is I want to know where I should plop myself down next. I am searching for something, I just don’t know what. I would like to learn what that is.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

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Check out the prompt here