During this Video Chat about trying to live like a local when traveling and what that really means, Sean Keener of Boots n All was digging deep and trying to get me and Sherry Ott of Ottsworld to really explain what being local means to us. To me, the common denominator is people. The best travel experiences I’ve had and the memories that ‘stick’ out the most are ones involving people – making new friends, learning new things from them, and seeing their home through their eyes. People are at the heart of it all – the food, the culture, the neighborhoods.
Travel is Life Intensified
But what about this travel bug, this strong attraction to travel? During our chat, I said,
“…travel is life intensified.”
It often feels like all our senses are heightened. There is simply more excitement when traveling as opposed to day-to-day life back home. There are more adrenaline rushes – even if those are just caused by meeting new people. And that is something you do during travel, much more than you would back at home. There are so many opportunities to meet new people – locals, other travelers, fellow tour mates, homestay owners, etc.
I personally feel a surge of serotonin or ‘feel-good brain chemicals’ when having these new interactions. It’s like the honeymoon phase of every relationship (friend or otherwise). It’s exciting to peel back the layers and learn about someone new – what makes them tick, what they are interested in, and what they want to do and see in life. It’s all the good stuff and none of the bad. I joke, but feel it’s true, that I spend just enough time with these people to squeeze out all the good and none of the bad. I hit the road again before their quirks start to annoy me (or vice versa!) or before we become aware that we have less in common than we thought. Then I cut and run right before their idiosyncrasies reveal themselves (and we all have them…myself included!).
There is a buzz from travel. My adrenaline is definitely running higher than it does back home. I am more stimulated by everything around me. And, in talking about it, I realized why: Time.
Travel alone, makes me feel like I have more time. It’s the only juncture, in some ways, that time seems to slow down. I can wander the new streets of a city all day with no real schedule. Therefore, I can honestly put action into words and literally “stop and smell the roses.” And I do. I take time to see the color of the sky, the shape of the clouds, and really feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I can sit at a café and sip an espresso and really taste the rich flavor of the coffee (something I didn’t even like before I started traveling).
I can hear all the languages around me. In some ways, I hear it more. When I’m surrounded by English, it’s so noisy because I can understand it all. In a foreign country, I can hear them, but I can’t understand much…so it’s just like a background soundtrack playing. I’ve never been able to really take time to focus on and think about my senses until traveling long term.
I’m not rushing through life with one eye on my cell phone and my mind in a thousand other places – worrying about work projects or relationship issues or all that other noise that gets in the way. Some of that white noise is just a part of life and it’s very hard to shut out everything, but never in my life have I been able to do that as much as I can when I’m traveling. Now, of course, it’s a bit different when I travel, because travel has also become my work: travel writing and photography, blogging, speaking and video consulting. So now, wherever I go, my office comes with me. It’s an okay price to pay for continuing to go after my passion, but has changed it all a bit for me. I don’t know if I can ever get back my travel innocence and awe, but I am so lucky to have experienced it at all.