One of the things that we like to do here at True Viking Wisdom, is look at ways to take a step back from things and reflect on how to lead a more satisfying life. Over the years, I have found that one of the best activities one can do to get a new perspective on things is to get out of my normal routine and environment, hop in my truck or grab a plane ticket, and explore a new place that I haven’t been to.
How can travel make you happy and help you develop your wisdom? Well, it turns out that it’s easier than you think, but you must approach travel the right way or you won’t get the most bang for your wisdom buck out of the process.
Wait, I’m Travelling Wrong?
Well, no, you’re not traveling wrong. I’m not going to tell you that you absolutely must do things in a certain way or you’re doing it wrong. What I’m going to try to detail is what I do to get a bit more out of my domestic and international vacations than what I think typical people get out of them.
This isn’t to say that I don’t spend time on my trip hitting all the “must see tourist traps” and taking the same pictures that everyone else takes of major sites. There’s little wisdom in being too “hipster” about things and thinking that just because something is popular, it’s not worth doing.
What I’m talking about is how to make sure that you take some time for yourself to get the best experiences out of traveling that will be memorable and give you good feelings long after you get back to the office.
Get Yourself Off the Beaten Path
While I do enjoy seeing the big attractions while traveling, I’ve found that I’ve had the best experiences and adventures getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that tourists usually miss. For example, while in Munich, Germany, I decided to visit a beer pub and restaurant near my hotel that I saw a lot of natives visiting during the day. I figured that if the natives were eating there, it had to be good, so in I went.
I sat down with a family of locals at the long benches that they have in these restaurants. Communal eating is a bit of a German custom. The family noticed that I was a tourist after I made my order in poor German, and was reading a travel book. We struck up a conversation and ended up getting along great.
What happened next surprised me. They had extra tickets to see the local soccer match in the new arena and they had asked me if I wanted to come with them. After making sure they were serious and that it was ok with them, I decided that it was something that I was going to tag along for.
It turned out that we all had a great time cheering on the local team, and we all ended up heading to the bar to get more drinks and food later discussing all kinds of things about America and Germany. It turned out to be one of my fondest memories from the trip and it would not have happened had I not decided to do something that my travel guide books and research had completely left out.
My recommendation to have a great trip is to make sure that you have a day or two where you don’t follow your guide book and just do what the locals do. Ask your hotel staff or make some new friends on your trip and it can open a great new world of fun.
Use Electronics in Productive Ways
A lot of people are glued to their phones and tablets these days. The last thing that you should be doing on vacation is paying more attention to social media than on your trip. However, there is a way to use your devices to make the trip more memorable for you and get a little rest in as well.
What I like to do while travelling is take along my tablet and Bluetooth keyboard. When I’m hitting up a café or grabbing some breakfast in the hotel, what I like to do is grab some of my pictures and write a bit about what I was feeling and doing at the time.
It sounds very simple, but it’s a very good way to catalogue your thoughts about your trip and get yourself ready to have another great day as well. A lot of the time, we try to pack way too many activities into our trips because of limited time, and it all races by in a blur of activity that we can’t really process very well.
What labelling a few pictures does is help you revisit those memories and slow down a bit. In only 15 minutes or so while eating breakfast, you can help solidify those great experiences in your mind’s eye. When I get back from vacation, I’m ready to go with my story of all the cool stuff that I did and don’t have to say that it all went by so fast and a lot of the detail escaped me.
Give it a try! Reflecting on things is the path to wisdom after all.
I Did Absolutely Nothing, and It was Everything I Thought It Could Be!
Going back to a previous idea, I think that people tend to pack way too many activities into their trips. While seeing everything in a limited amount of time has a certain appeal, I think that it makes actually makes it so that you get less out of your holiday time. If I take a two-week vacation, I always schedule a day where there is absolutely nothing on the agenda, and ideally two days in different weeks.
This may sound nuts to some of you, but hear me out. One of the things that people frequently run into while on vacation is unexpected events that knock their perfectly planned schedules out of whack. For instance, while in Munich, I had planned a day trip to Austria. Everything was all set except for the fact that the trains weren’t running on the day that I had planned because of a massive snowstorm. Oops!
I ended up wandering aimlessly around Munich through the snow that day, and found a cool museum and an old brew-pub that used to be a monastery to hang out in. I had planned a bit of slack in my vacation activities so my schedule wasn’t too badly knocked out of sorts by this.
I’ve had similar days in my local travel where I just wander around where I’m visiting, checking out local shops and chatting with people at the bars and stores. It’s a great way to get a feel for the city or town that you’re traveling to and to absorb a lot of the local culture. It can also open up opportunities to do things with the new friends that you’ve made, especially if there’s nothing on your agenda that day.
Too much haste makes too much waste, says the wiser man. I think that you’ll find that taking it easy on your vacation for a day will really let you slow down and enjoy things a lot more than rushing everywhere.
Tying it All Together, What Can We Learn?
The two major things we should take to heart with regards to having a great vacation are
- Taking things slowly.
- Dive into the local culture.
By making both ideas a priority in your vacations, it’s easy to have a nice relaxing vacation that does open your mind and refresh your body. Traveling can easily turn into a mess of jet lag, late flights, lost luggage, unplanned weather and busy attractions. The wise traveler takes things in stride and always takes time out of the rush to let the thrill of adventure and a novel environment soak in.
I hope my ideas help you to have a slightly better vacation than you would have otherwise.
I’m planning a future article where I discuss the must have travel gear to put all this into practice as I’ve experimented with all kinds of travel kit over the years. I have a few things that have served me well that I think would make everyone’s life easier on their trip. I hope that you’ll look forward to it.
Happy travels everyone!