There are tourists and there are travelers. And then there are travelers and travelers. When you’re on the road, you detach from your ordinary life — may it be temporary or indefinite. And there is a few qualities that all of my traveling friends possess. These qualities are what makes them utterly harmonic travelers.
They don’t let preconceptions stick
It doesn’t matter if it is a friend that tells them something or if they read it on the Internet, a humane traveler won’t believe in information or gossip without having hard proof. If there isn’t any proof, they take note of what is being said but, then, go out to find out the truth themselves.
They know that most things won’t kill them
On the contrary to what your parents say, only a fraction of the events, people and things around you are of any kind of danger to your person. If you allow yourself to refrain from doing and steer clear of anything outside of your comfort zone, you’ll end up a very boring person. Even you will realize that. Passionate travelers aren’t naive — there are still things that would love to kill them. But they don’t let that fear prevent them from exploring and living.
They do not let delays put them down
Think about it. If you have to wait for half an hour for your cake to bake, you’re totally fine with it. But when the plane is delayed and you have to spend another hour in the airport, it’s sixty minutes of trying not to curl up and die out of boredom. A passionate traveler will accept it as something that she can’t do anything about and use it to explore or create.
They help without expecting anything in return
We trust that people do things without having a hidden agenda. Selflessness is one of the most attractive traits in a potential friend. When you travel you encounter people that you’re able to help. It might just be showing the way to the best hostel or even being the last piece of the puzzle in a really cool business idea- the entire travel community is built on giving and receiving. That is how you find the coolest surf spots, the best restaurants and the weirdest experiences. When you give first, you will always get it back later.
They are able to be alone, but are never lonely
The first time I traveled by myself (I spent a few weeks in Albania), I spent every night feeling like the loneliest person on earth. During the days, I met new people and chatted with everyone. But every day, when I was back in whatever guesthouse I stayed at that day — I felt lonely. I just wasn’t used to traveling like that. But after a few more trips, I realized it wasn’t scary (or pathetic) at all.
Being alone from time to time gives a traveller opportunity to reflect and plan. To figure out the next step.
They spend their spare time consuming
I’m not talking about materialistic things. The best way to learn is to consume as much inspirational material as humanly possible. Go to the weirdest events that you can find. Eat everything, even if it is from a street vendor. Don’t stock your iPad or laptop with TV-series — but bring books when you’re en route. I’m not saying I’ve succeeded yet, but I’m trying to refrain from killing time. That is a terrible way to spend any amount of minutes! Think about it — it basically means that you’re just waiting for something else, not using the time from now ’til then at all — it is just dead.
They create and inspire
It doesn’t matter in what way. Passionate travelers have too much knowledge and stories to keep it to themselves. They blog, photograph, write articles, teach or whatever it takes to get the experience out of their heads.
They don’t spend time aimlessly surfing the web
What do you do when you are bored at home? My guess is that most of you (as well as me whenever I forget to think) pick up your phone to see if someone messaged you, uploaded a new picture or share another funny link. In the last decade we have slowly programmed ourselves to seek that kick of happiness from social media whenever we are bored or feel down. But the truth is, it is a fake feeling of happiness. It lasts for an extremely short period of time, then we are back in the same spot again. A passionate traveler learns to search for happiness where there are no screens.
They spend time aimlessly walking the streets
Instead, they know that in order to live out the stories that they will later tell their grandchildren, they need to close the computer and go out and explore.
Written by Jens Lennartsson — Traveler, Photographer, Minimalist.
This first appeared on my blog about the human part of photography, The Zen Photographer.