For many, choosing the destination of an upcoming trip is half the fun, but for others, it’s difficult and daunting, even. Typically for an international flight (especially those that cross an ocean), you will be shelling out a bit of cash and you may not know the next chance you will be able to do it again, so choosing the right destination is extremely important. Once you’ve chosen where you wish you go, dedicate yourself to it. Learn as much as you can, yet remain partial, as the experience you’re likely to have will be nothing like your expectations - plus, it’s never good to thrive on pre-conceived notions anyway.
If you chose cultural travel, then I applaud you and welcome you to continue. You may already have your ideal destination in mind, and if so, you will want to choose your travel dates, then research and map out your locations. I suggest printing out two maps from Google and with a marker, pinpoint all of the things you would like to see on one and on the other, plan a general routing for your trip. If this applies to you, I would suggest learning as much as you can, so you have plenty of options and aren’t completely lost (although I have a love for wandering, or traveling lost, it’s typically only great if you have no intention of returning anytime soon), but don’t schedule things to be too concrete or overpacked. The beauty of truly experiencing a new destination is being able to let the culture and the people mold you and influence your direction. In Amsterdam, earlier this year, I had no plan, yet I went with the flow and met some amazing friends and had a fantastic time causing mischief - I still call some of them friends to this day.
If you are unsure of where you wish to travel to, it’s about time to start searching within yourself. You either are very curious of another culture’s way of life or you may wish to find direction in your own life; perhaps you desire some sort of enlightenment. If the corporate 9-5 cubical, soul-wrenching beast of a world is getting you down, traveling to spiritual and less modernly advanced civilizations may be the key for you. For me, it wasn’t just the corporate world that I despised and traveled to seek refuge from. I despised (and still do, to this day) greed, materialism and the negative influences that technology has had on our world. I was in search of the ‘old’ world. I wanted to experience my roots and the wonderful world of history, culture and arts. I wanted to experience where humans once strived for true greatness and when wisdom and accomplishment made you famous, not for being a trashy-whore on T.V. from New Jersey.
Take some time and dig deep within yourself and find out what you really need, as a person, to make you happy and to feel fulfillment. Travel is more than just jumping on a plane and seeing art in a museum or remnants of a lost civilization. Travel is powerful and life changing, because when you’re in a foreign place with a foreign language, where no food, drink or person is familiar, you will experience a reckoning. Giving in and letting go will change you forever, and you will forever have a new understanding of yourself. Within this reckoning, you become altered, because you are now alone and are left with only that of who you really are. All ego, judgement and preconceived negativities are washed away and you then begin to learn, grow and gain wisdom. Don’t let this transformation scare you, because you will be vulnerable for a time, but you will naturally learn to be stronger and more independent than you ever were. You will find a new and beautiful understanding and appreciation for people and cultures. Real travel, where you let the experience rule you, rather than you passing by place by place without taking in a thing, will give you a new meaning and faith in life and the human race.
What you see to the right is what I have mapped out for myself thus far. This trip is as amazing as it is long and even though I completely believe that I will either totally steer away from my preplanned routing or I won’t be able to complete the entirety of what I have planned, but there’s nothing wrong with a little dreaming from time to time. I will continue this series as I plan my own upcoming travels. I will walk you through planning your own trip, step by step. But until next time, cheers and safe travels!
(Cover photo by Ken Kaminesky)