You Are Your Own Best Tour Guide
Full disclosure: I'm not into tours. Maybe there's a few I could be convinced to go on, but for the most part they make me tired and fidgety. I kind of turn into a five-year-old when I have to walk a certain pace and follow the leader. You know? I would rather get some inside scoop or find locals to tell me the way.
This idea requires a shift in mentality, and is rooted in the fact that no one knows you better than you. We live in an age where we want to have everything done for us. The planning, the scheduling, the itinerary down to the minute. There's so many people telling us where to go and what to do and how to have "the best experience ever"—without actually allowing us the time and space to have an experience.
There's a difference between going somewhere for a week-long guided getaway, and going to a place open and curious, eyes wide to finding its quirks, ins-and-outs and hidden gems on your own. Finding the places that speak to you, rather than being spoken to you.
Becoming open to letting yourself have an experience means getting away from high expectations and short time frames. It's about accepting uncertainty, having blind faith, and letting yourself go along for the ride. If travel is all about getting to know the true flavor of a place (and of yourself in that place), this doesn't just happen on a two-week trip. This takes time. Slowing down. Being open.
And it's worth it. Because when we have time and zero expectations, the magic of travel seeps in.
Going on a guided tour leaves no room for spontaneity. Where is the time to wander down that unmarked street to find the corner restaurant brimming with people? Or the dinner that goes deep into the night? Where's the space get lost in the corner cafe for hours, writing and reflecting on everything happening to you?
When we live our lives according to such a tight structure and plan, travel should be the exception. When we plan so much, we don't give ourselves the chance to truly relax, and we leave no room for the unexpected to seep into our days. We miss out on opportunities to meet people, go off course, have an adventure, try something different, and test ourselves. And isn't that the whole point of traveling? To have an experience that reveals your true colors, depths and strengths?
We go on the road not just for the destination and sights, but to find out a little more about who we really are. To feel how it feels to live in our skin again. And not just skimming the surface, but the things about ourselves we never knew before. We travel to come alive.
If you're thinking you need a tour guide to be safe, or get where you're going, because everything seems so overwhelming, the truth is: you are so much stronger than you know. Once you get over there, you'll realize you're more capable than you ever imagined, tougher than you look, more adventurous than you ever gave yourself credit for.
You'll find a rhythm and flow that's natural to you. You might blow your own mind once or twice. Give yourself the opportunity to let this happen to you—allow yourself to show yourself what you're made of.
Rather than diluting the experience by cramming tons of activities into a short amount of time, all while having high expectations, have faith in your wandering ways. Slow down. Stay awhile. Give yourself the opportunity to question and change, and the time to grow into yourself there.
Leave room for spontaneity. Create space for the unpredictable. Don't go looking for magic. Linger awhile. The magic will find you.
The world is yours . . . the only question now is: where will you go?