4 Ways to Grow Into a True Traveler
Many people think traveling is all about seeing everything a town or city has to offer. That’s not my idea of traveling.
In fact, I’ve not seen a place unless I’ve become comfortable with the in’s and out’s of the culture and everyday life.
I’m not talking about becoming comfortable with the route from your hotel to the city’s main tourist area. That can be learned in a matter of a few hours.
I am talking about becoming comfortable with other things about a place. Like how people of different languages may speak to you. Even if you do not speak their language, you learn to understand the best way to communicate with them. You can read the body language of where you are.
Traveling means you can play by the rules of the city you are in without watching how everyone else is doing it.
Becoming comfortable in a city means feeling like you fit in.
If you are anything like me (I hope you’re not, for your sake), you’re a timid person. Especially upon arriving in a new place.
You approach people very methodically. And think about what you are going to say before you approach them.
It takes a while to shake this feeling. There’s no set time before you break the shyness. It may be a few weeks if you’re lucky, or else it could take a few months.
Then, one day, you start to understand your surroundings better.
You become much more comfortable with anything and everything. You feel good about “living” in that particular place.
All of a sudden, you pick up a routine; but not the same routine you know to be true back home. You adapt to the place you are for the moment and find comfort in the life you are leading at the given time.
How to develop yourself as a traveler
1. Give yourself time.
You can’t expect a weekend trip to the next state to change you. I understand this can be difficult.
Not everyone is in a position to drop everything and take a round-the-world ‘find yourself’ kind of trip.
But it’s not about the number of days you are gone. It’s about the effort you put forth to give yourself a chance to be changed.
If you’re always moving from attraction to attraction; city to city; when will you have time to reflect?
2. Keep an open mind
This is the most important one. For me. Despite the fact that I have to remind myself often.
The best advice I have is to just say “Yes”. There will be moments when your first instinct is to decline an offer. Whether it’s to go out for a drink with a new friend or go hiking with a hostel mate.
But one thing I’ve learned is that every offer is never what it appears on the surface. You never know what will happen if you just say “YES”!
3. Develop a thirst for knowledge
This is the most difficult for most travelers.
You need to adopt a sincere passion for learning about the culture you’re in. I’ve always wanted to learn about cultures. But, admittedly, I’m often not devoted enough.
It wasn’t until a few real cultural experiences that I learned the devotion is completely worth it. This thirst won’t come to you everywhere you go. But some places will stand out as particularly interesting to you, trust me.
4. Test your comfort zone
To gain the comfort it takes to understand a place, you have to feel arrogant. Don’t be arrogant. Feel it.
In your hometown, you develop a certain amount of confidence in navigating it. Perhaps, even the neighboring cities surrounding your hometown.
Away from home, you’re still an outsider trying to avoid mistakes. I’ve found comfort in that feeling in the past. But that is when you have to start testing your boundaries.
It is easy to rush around from city to city, attraction to attraction. Attempting to take the best photo possible for Instagram.
But after you return home, do you feel you ever left? Did it even make an impact on you?
It is difficult to be a perpetual traveler seeking new cultures constantly. Sometimes, we have to settle with a week vacation only to see the sights. It is better than not traveling at all, right?
But, trust me when I say:
You will never be able to capture the feeling of having a second “home” by taking a week-long vacation.
That feeling is what travel is all about.
It is an unbelievable feeling that will make you feel more connected to a place than your own hometown. I cannot speak highly enough about that type of traveling. That’s my type of traveling.
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