How To Discover Yourself in the World of Travel?

September 3, 2020

The story was originally published here

When the world is broad and massive, I tried to focus on something small— the raw and local culture. No, I didn’t take that trip to Thailand to feel enlightened, neither did I backpack with no safety insurance in mind.

Travel Unfiltered’ is what I live by to get a sense of the true essence of cultures around the world. I try to understand how people travel locally, how the modern society helps people to experience life as well as the privileges and shortcomings we have. Does it change people the way it did for me? Do people learn something new from the local explorations? To find out answers to these questions, I began to grow an interest in local or community-based tourism. But yes before we dive deeper into the subject, I want to talk a little bit about thoughts that started it all.

What is ‘local’?

The local isn’t small. It consists of millions of things that we don’t consciously think about. Unexplored cities, new people, unfamiliar food, different etiquettes, unknown settings and of course new ways of travel. The metaphor of traveling local can be very similar to our lives. It reflects on the speed, order, power, reliability, complexity, flexibility, direction and meaning to experiences we gather in our lives from a local and personal point of view. What we believe is at most times close to what we experience and to better understand our world, it is important to travel and see what lies beyond our limited ideologies.

Mass tourism can be destructive and to conserve the uniqueness of certain cultures, communities around the world have headed towards eco-tourism projects that tend to preserve their uniqueness in various ways. Even though there is no actual museum dedicated to world cultures, one can always taste anything local in the simplest of ways. This way you can get a reality check on how ‘normal’ is subjective around the world — especially in places where people live on less than $1.50 a day. They survive on bare minimum and yet put a smile on their faces.

The way we perceive life on a local level is best experienced through local adventures and stories. Language, people, food, hesitations, barriers and etiquettes are part of our everyday lives but having to see it up front and getting the perspective as an outsider is what excites me. After all traveling is all about people and not places. This is what I understand by community-based traveling. To see beyond life and emotions of communities around the world and getting an accurate understanding built in our minds. Hence, among many microscopic aspects of experiencing the locale, one of the best ways is immersing yourself completely that opens up a different world to us.

How did I start traveling?

I have never imagined myself to become a traveler but I always thought of experiencing the world cultures. I didn’t have enough faith but gradually it changed and made me an avid observer slash traveler, when I started doing the following:

  1. I started with shorter trips, then to the nearest cities and eventually to other countries
  2. I built courage and confidence and stepped out of my comfort zone
  3. I became a good money manager
  4. I became considerate
  5. I started seeing broader pictures and appreciated the moments I lived by
  6. I respected cultures and their values, and represented mine in positive ways
  7. I started fearing the unknown (yes, you read it right). Fear is normal. Period. Oh and I also became more practical in my life.
  8. I stopped following guidebooks and explored things on my own
  9. I took my time to get familiar with places and utilized my limited time in the most efficient ways
  10. I put my adventurous self out and experienced things I couldn’t have imagined doing
  11. I became a good listener and healed from stories people shared with me.
  12. I became independent and started taking important decisions on my own.

The journey has been great so far. A very ordinary person with an ordinary life. Knowing when to step out and when to take control makes people active decision makers in life. Sometimes I made mistakes and sometimes I just had to go with the flow. I ended up being this seeker of knowledge and grew hungry for more.

I started seeing sides of me that I didn’t even know existed. My interest in art, culture, architecture and communities grew over time and I started analyzing the surrounding around me from a different lens. I started to appreciate things for what they were and accepted myself for who I started to become.

Can you do this?

Yes, you can. To everyone who is reading this, you are in an illusion if you think that you can’t travel or get the local perception. You don’t even realize this but know that you have seen so much than most avid travelers around the world who probably will never experience what you did. Your stance in life is different than others and so your experiences are invaluable to the world. You never know where life can take you, who you can become and what you can expect in the years to come. So start with the shortest trip because you have miles to go, my friend!