Be Where You Are: How to Make the Most of Your Travels
Where are you when you travel?
I like (and try) to actually be where I am.
This endeavor offers a stark contrast to my personal travel history…
When I first began setting off on adventures around the globe, foot-loose and fancy free, I wanted to see everything.
I sought to climb every mountain, swim in every waterfall, see all the temples, museums, art galleries, and night markets that I could possibly lay my eyes on.
As you might have guessed just from reading that, it was exhausting.
At times, I developed a major sense of FOMO, as if there was always something else around the corner that I would be missing out on if I didn’t push myself further.
After all, life was too short to not see everything.
The World is Reeaaaaally Big
My experiences of new places, when operating as I was, passed by like a whirlwind.
I didn’t rest, didn’t enjoy myself at times, and had only brief forays with new friends before setting off to go see or do yet another thing.
It’s impossible to see everything.
What’s more, my experiences of places started to blend together. The art galleries started to all seem the same, in spite of the grandeur and wonder unique to each of them.
Mountain summits felt the same. Not because they were, by any stretch of the imagination, but because my internal process was the same. Mentally, I was at the base of the mountain and on to the next adventure before even reaching the top.
Coming to terms with the fact that I’ll never see it all has been liberating for my travel experience.
What’s more, that sense of mystery and wonder at the sheer scope of everything that’s out there is really humbling.
Don’t Get Me Wrong…I Still Have a Bucket List
There are still a lot of places that I want to see, and epic adventures I intend to pursue:
Horse trekking across Mongolia
Visiting Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan
Summiting (or getting high up on) Everest.
But to see everything, even only in one country, would take a lifetime. And even then, seeing is not the same as experiencing.
What I want is to really be at these places. To accept that I am drawn to them for reasons that are likely beyond my understanding, and to internalize the teachings that I receive in the process of getting there.
I’d come away with some cool pictures as ‘proof’ that I’d visited, but the memories would soon fade.
When I Go Somewhere, I Want to Be There
When I visit a place, I want to have been really there.
I’ve found that I’m far more grateful, happy, and present when I don’t over extend myself.
I choose a few spots, change my schedule if a place doesn’t particularly resonate with me, and get into the practice of settling into the space around me.
On my most recent stay in Rishikesh, India, I made some wonderful friends. I got a sense of the land, the river Ganga, and all the ways in which the community place helped me.
I had a tea guy. Hell, I even had a favorite cow!
There were some amazing treks within a few hours of where I was staying that I never explored. And that was okay.
There were world renowned temples that I never felt called to visit. And that too was okay.
As I left Rishikesh, I felt full and content.
I had the time and space to explore myself, and departed with more clarity around what I hoped to do from then on.
I was able to open my heart to the community, and stopped running away.
I did some amazing treks that I’ll forever remember, bonding with new friends in ways that wouldn’t have been possible had I been flitting around from place to place.
Do What Works For You
There is nothing wrong with seeing the world, and a lot of it.
What I encourage and suggest is to allow yourself to settle.
You’re never going to see it all. Be in the places that you visit.
And I get it. There can exist a sense of urgency if our opportunity to travel is limited by the lifestyles we lead.
But that can get in the way of an easeful, nourishing adventure.
I promise you, these places aren’t going anywhere.