Figuring out How to Travel
How to travel? Its a question that started our travels off. We didn’t like spending just one week visiting three countries so we took a long time off to really travel. We wanted to spend more time in each place and see more in this world. Beyond that thought, we didn’t have any detailed ideas of how to accomplish those dreams. Like most things in life, I believe its about doing it, making mistakes, learning, and then changing how you do things the second time around.
I will start off saying that travel is different for everyone. Some people enjoy visiting churches, some are just starting to travel and go to 5 cities in 5 days, some stay in one country for 1 year. There is no right way for everyone to travel, it is a learning journey and is individual based. Penny pinching, “long term traveling”, and living off of $30 per person per day or “visiting cities” ended up not being our thing. But at first I kinda of thought that would be how we traveled, to which I was definitely wrong. So with that being said, don’t just follow others in the way they are traveling. Find inspiration from them, do some things similarly, but find your own niche and passions throughout traveling and keep doing them. So much of traveling is learning about situations, yourself, and life. This is an account of how WE are figuring those things out.
It is hard to go to a city and think of what to do. On one hand we don’t want to go to a city and not see Christ the Redemeer, because its such a huge monument in the world. We want to see the icons the city has to offer that are different from other cities. On the other hand we don’t want to pay 7 euro to go inside the walls of another castle. Choosing what to pay for and what to do in a city can be tricky sometimes. Someone writes an article on top 10 things to do in Lisbon and thats what people go off of, along with some other research. So what do we do in a city? See the one or two icons of the city and try to do the local things. But the “local things” are the things everyone wants to see, so now the local things are now the touristy things. Its ok to be a tourist, as everyone who travels is one. But seeing and experiencing something majestic is different than everyone flocking to a statue to take a picture of it. How do we experience the majestic while traveling?
I am not fond of the idea of staying in a city one or two days and visiting four different sites to take the staple pictures at each location. What is the point of going to a site to take a picture then leave, to say I was there? Walking 20 miles to have that site as an end destination, and seeing more beautiful things on the way is more like it. We will see things that others are not flocking to, which more often than not end up being a better view than what we were going to see. If we go to a touristy place, we are going because someone suggested it or said to go. But what about if we didn’t have the same agenda as the internet or guidebooks, and decided to explore another place we have never heard anything about. We probably would have a better time getting there, a more local experience, and would enjoy the small towns along the way, rather than bumping shoulders with 50 cameras trying to take 500 pictures of the same thing. We would see things from our creative perspective, and have a higher chance of being personally inspired than the top ten article on the internet. No creativity equals no personal experience.
I think a lot of getting a local peaceful or cool experience is to visit places unknown by the majority of travelers or travel during the offseason. Traveling Europe in the summer was a little overwhelming when we hot the big cities like Barcelona.
Of course there are great staples of cities, and it is cool to see those things, but that is a small part of traveling. I think it deserves some attention, but we have found that we are not inspired or excited to going to sites that we have to pay to see a statue or castle. Go to places you have never heard of, because the unexpected journey is the best journey. I think excursions that take weeks or months for us to walk, bike, ride scooter, sail are the most awe inspiring. The slower we went from beginning destination to end destination the more we saw and experienced. Instead of taking a taxi, we rented a scooter in Sao Miguel and took our time going to the one place we had in mind. It ended up being too foggy to get there, so we had to switch our plans. This ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. We headed to a small town that we knew nothing of, found an awesome natural swimming pool surrounded by crazy volcanic rocks, got escorted by a police car, had amazing views while getting lost, and ate some crazy food. The unexpected and slower ended up being one of the great parts about the island.
Traveling to Sao Miguel changed the way we think about travel now. We went to one island that not a lot of people have heard of. There were of course people there visiting just like we were, but it didn’t feel touristy and felt very original. Diving with the dolphins in an open ocean was an experience that was so unique. I think its about finding those unique adventures that truly create a good trip. We now have changed our aspirations to go to places that are far removed and are different than Hong Kong, Paris, and Rome. Places like the Faroe Islands, Papa New Gunei, and Madagscar seem to be more appealing now.
Biking the Camino has also changed our outlook of how we want to travel. We are not sticking to our original itinerary anymore and “visiting” so many countries per continent, we are seeking out long biking adventures and more remote places to visit. Biking the Camino was tough. It pushed us, opened us up, and gave us amazing experiences. We kind of found our niche in long biking/adventure treks. We really enjoyed it. Instead of listening to our original plans and other peoples recommendation we will be changing our plans for more of these trips and not doing the typical long term traveler trips, just for the sake of it.
Somehow certain travel articles go to the top of search engines. The lists of top ten things to do or one person’s opinion or paid opinion then becomes everyone’s must do item. Loads of people line up to do these certain things from those articles. For instance in Croatia, we talked to one boatman who said that a small blue lagoon cave had a two hour wait to get into in the summer. Kind of defeats the purpose of travel, right? So now it costs all this money to go to these 2 lagoons, when I am positive there are other lagoons or more beautiful places out there. The only difference is nobody has written a paid advertisement article about it, so it is harder to find out about them. The point being, that there is beauty in so many places, but we have to find it on our own and not just follow other peoples regurgitated travel articles. We can’t worry about not having a good time if we don’t do the staple things, because thats really not what travel is to us.
I would suggest going to a place you have never heard of. When you get to that place make a journey of it. Take a week bike/scooter/sail ride traveling to different towns every day through the region you choose. Don’t do too much research and let the places surprise you. Spend enough time there to be able to slow down and find the unexpected spots, because it is worth it. We will definitely be doing more of this moving forward. Also find your own niche…whether that is focusing on food, biking, adrenaline activities, festivals, gardens, remote locations…(the list goes on). It took us a little while to find that out, but now that we have found it, we are more focused on what we will do going foward and more excited as well.
So advice: Find your own way. We found ours after trying a lot of different things while traveling. It takes some failing and hard times, but keep searching and exploring, because living off someone else’s ideas and agenda never seems to work out in the end.