Travel was part of my raising, adventure is in my blood and exploration is #1 in our family manifesto. I could write a book just on little lessons learned while traveling. Actually, I plan to. Here are five things I’ve learned catching flights, ducking down side streets, getting off the beaten path and treating every space as if I were studying abroad in another culture no matter where I am.
—Remember that tiny details matter, even when you miss the big ones. This is one that Morocco taught me, and it fits in the palm of my hand. Nail clippers, chapstick, a toothbrush, clean undies, a the tiniest face wash/moisturizer kit. You might say these are my creature comforts. Maybe you’re right. But in a country/culture/village where you may start out in one place and sleep somewhere else–for days—these lil’ bitties go a long way. I once lost my luggage from Palestine —> France —> Morocco, but I had my littles and didn’t worry ‘bout a thing. Not even my clothes. So, find your few, palm-of-your-hand tiny details that will take you ‘round the world.
—Go with the flow. It really is all about the journey, not the destination. The destination is like a checkmark, but you would’ve never gotten there without the lessons in between. The journey experience is where we grow and expand in heart and soul, mind and body. Sure, the destination gives you an aim, but it’s all about how you get there. There have been many a trip where Thomas and I may or may not have some loose “plan,” with the idea that we’ll leave space for play and just figure it out when we get there. Sometimes it works magnificently. Sometimes, not so much. Every time it’s a lesson and a memory for which we’re grateful.
—Know when to fold ‘em. In January 2017, Thomas and I backpacked through the Torres del Paine in Patagonia, Chile. It was then that I started asking my favorite go-to question, “What are our core family values?” Obviously, the answers are pretty much the same, but it sparks those trail memories and ignites a the cutest little eye roll from my patient man. For some reason, we had the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler,” on repeat in our heads.
“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.”
Since then, I’m STILL learning about amending the plan—embracing that it’s not a failure, it’s part of going with the flow and knowing when you just need to adjust the course.
—Do the local stuff. Know some words, try them out. Does the culture appreciate haggling in shops? Try it! (Pro tip: you should ALWAYS haggle in Morocco—it’s a respected, expected and appreciated part of the culture!) Stay with locals. Book an Airbnb or a similar local service. Try an Airbnb Experience. Explore, don’t just “adventure.” You can copy anyone’s adventures and snag that picture you’ve seen before. Or you can be curious and go your own way. Find something new, different. Get lost and learn something along the way.
—Get out. Go hike. Our trip to France this spring was the first time we didn’t plan to backpack or hike during an adventure. Boy, did we miss it. Even though we live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and get to romp around them any day we want, we realized that mountains and outdoor activities are what soothes our souls no matter where we go. It’s how we reset, re-center and enjoy time together deeply. And we want to be in allll the mountains that we see. Nature is different and amazing, no matter where you are and THAT is also part of the experience of the place. We think the Rockies are world class, but there’s no substitute for exploring the outdoors everywhere you roam.
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