When our family arrived in India for the first time it was already well after dark. I looked out of the plane window at the millions of tiny lights blinking below and wondered, “What will it be like?” I couldn’t imagine. Though I’d traveled a lot, up until then I had never been anywhere east of Ukraine.
I wouldn’t get my first glimpse of Delhi until morning. When I opened my eyes and realized where I was, anticipation gripped me. I could hear that the city outside was already wide awake. The birds, people and vehicles all competed for equal bandwidth. I crawled out of bed and creeped slowly to the large window and reached for the curtain… how will this place taste, smell, sound, look… and how will it make its mark on me?
Discover Something New
If we leave the gated resorts when we travel and step boldly into another culture, we are unavoidably choosing to leave the familiar far, far behind. No amount of internet searching and planning can prepare us for the unexpected opportunities and experiences that will come our way. The newness of the surroundings almost compels us to re-imagine ourselves and try things we might have never tried at home. Perhaps this openness is rooted in the feeling that we may never have the chance to do it again. Or, perhaps we want to go home with a good story. Whatever the reason, we often surprise those close to us and even surprise ourselves while far from home.
Travel breaks down bias, not only towards others, but also the bias we may hold about ourselves. It allows us to think more creatively about how we view presented possibilities. Research has also discovered that travel increases our agreeableness.
Comfort zones are entirely different from one person to the next. It isn’t important that the act be daring, just that we open ourselves up to new possibilities! Try something you wouldn’t do at home and create a memory. It will forever be tied to that place where you forgot who you were for a moment.
Travelers share some of their memorable moments…
“While traveling through a market in Chiang Rai, I decided I had to try the crunchy, deep fried crickets and some spicy silk worms. I’d seen this on the menu of my favorite travel show so how could I go all the way to Thailand and not do that? It turned out that I really liked the silk worms. The crickets? Not so much.”
“We were in Grand Cayman with friends and our husbands wanted to go fishing, so my girlfriend and I just approached a local fisherman to see if the guys could tag along the next morning. He put them to work for hours hauling fish after fish up by hand, all while he stood back and supervised. The guys loved it! We invited the local fisherman and his family over for dinner and they, in turn, had us over to their home—for an amazing dinner of rice, beans and coconut conch. Our unusual boldness ignited by travel led to a wonderful friendship and an unforgettable experience.”
“In Italy I took a cooking class for the first time. I would never look for this experience at home, but I really loved it!”
“I rode a ski chair lift with some locals to the top of the alps in Slovenia with locals for a traditional Slovene meal. We had the best view in the entire region, the architecture was an impressive 500 years old, and the atmosphere was lively and happy. At the end of the day, on the way down, I passed a man going up who was playing a tune on an accordion. There was just something about that day that stuck with me. I think it was because it was so outside of my normal, everyday life.”
“I’m a guy who doesn’t enjoy strangers touching me, especially my face, so the last place I expected to find myself was in a recliner getting a macadamia oil facial at a plantation in Guatemala. I don’t know why I said yes (peer pressure?) and don’t think I’d sign up for that experience in any other situation. But, to be honest, it was really relaxing and enjoyable. I’m glad I tried it.”
“I’m afraid of motorcycles, but in Vietnam I climbed on to the back of one with a driver I didn’t know. We rode bumpily (and confidently) along tiny walking trails at a pace that would have normally made me anxious. We went up and down hills, around tight turns, through bright green rice fields, finally reaching our destination – a small, remote village. Surprisingly, I loved every second of it. It was thrilling and I felt at ease. I guess I could suspend my fears in another context. I still wouldn’t get on a motorcycle with a stranger at home.”
“I think for me it’s mostly been venturing out on public transportation with the ‘locals’. At home it’s so easy to just jump in the car and trust the GPS to get you to your destination. But when traveling I really enjoy researching bus and train schedules and the satisfaction of figuring it out and getting around on my own. While traveling with Niteo, or on my way to join a tour with them, I’ve gotten to take water taxis in Venice, two cross country trains in Italy and many local buses. In Thailand I ventured off alone one afternoon of the tour to take the water taxis down river to a famous shrine, and back to the hotel in perfect time to meet the group for dinner! No staid taxis for me! I love people watching, and traveling like a local is a perfect opportunity.”
A memory of our own, made exclusively in India…
One day, when we were walking in a Delhi street after visiting the colorful Surajkund Mela Festival, a large crowd had gathered around some talented and fully adorned dancers. The people were cheering and clapping and we couldn’t help but stop to take it all in. When we showed up on the outer perimeter of the large circle, the attention turned to the foreigners (us!) and it wasn’t long before one of the dancers singled out my husband to join them, likely recognizing that he would be the least comfortable, and therefore the most entertaining, option! I couldn’t have imagined him being persuaded. Even a slow two-step amongst family was a stretch. But, somehow, in the atmosphere of that out-of-the-ordinary environment, he jumped in the middle and followed their lead… straight into a dance fit for a Bollywood production!
We’d love to hear from you!
What experiences have you opened up to while traveling
that you would never consider trying at home?