When you travel, you’re always asked: “What are you going to do on your trip!?”
On my way to Paris this year, it was the first time where I had N O T H I N G planned. This was a big change for me but I wanted this trip to be different. I wanted to challenge myself to take it easy and approach each day with an openness to try new things. This trip was all about being L O W- K E Y and my to-do list was vague:walk around, indulge in delicious food, take pictures, and just be in Parisian culture. For the first time, I was just going with the flow and seeing where things would take me. It was liberating.
Reflecting on my ability to just let go allowed me to soak up Paris with a new set of eyes. I was able to observe people everyday and admire their strength after all that has happened this past year. There have been continuous tragedies and sadness throughout France. But to still hear genuine laughter, see a friendly embrace, and to feel a country still so alive, that is powerful, that is living.
Coming to France, I could’ve been filled with fear, anxiety, and stress of what might happen. But I left those thoughts at home and traveled with a clear focus on enjoying my trip and living each day as a new beginning. No regrets, no fears.
But how do we travel with such an open mindset?
Why are we uncomfortable with experiencing a place that is unfamiliar to us?
It begins with being flexible and having no expectations. As we prepare to travel we feel the need to plan to see as much as we can. But this is our first mistake. Even if we have the time to travel to surrounding areas, it does not always mean that we should. When we book everyday of our schedules full, we never get to really experience a city. We miss out on the culture, people, food, and energy of a space. These aspects are what make traveling such a mind-expanding experience. We are able to step outside of ourselves and all that we know.
Being able to be patient, to wander, and to not be afraid to get lost are most important when traveling with an open mindset. It’s likely that the trains, cabs, or buses may not run quite on schedule, and this is okay. Being in Paris, luckily the trains ran regularly, but there was always the option to walk. This is an everyday part of Parisian culture, that I love. By walking everywhere, we are able to wander down side streets with eye-catching artwork, stumble upon beautiful gardens to take a minute to relax, or embark on a walk-about to see what’s around that corner and over that bridge. It is these moments that take us out of our routine, distance ourselves from our devices, and invite us to explore our surroundings.
Regardless of not being fluent in the language or traveling on our own, we will always figure things out.
Embarking on a solo afternoon around Paris, I was fearful of speaking due to my lack of fluency in and comprehension of the language. Kris shared a few phrases with me, but I still did not feel prepared. However, I pushed myself into a store, didn’t fully understand those who spoke to me, but was able to calculate the price and purchase an item. I was able to face my fears, know that I would figure it out, and no longer doubt my ability to explore.
When we are faced with a challenge, we will rise to the occasion and problem-solve any issues. But only if we allow ourselves to think that way. If we are prone to break down, we have to be cognizant of this and remind ourselves that we can work through it. Approaching every situation with stress and fear only stifles our potential to break through our own struggles.
Switching our mindset to travel mode allows us to be comfortable with being uncomfortable in new places. We no longer expect ourselves or our surroundings to be the same as our home. We understand that everything will be different and we will need to adapt. But this is nothing to fear. This is beautiful. This is what fosters our growth and expansion. We were made to be able to adapt with ease. If we believe in our ability to change then we will be able to.
Traveling can change our lives.
We will never be the same as when we left.
Our perspective will expand and continue to grow with each experience.
We will begin to look at the world and ourselves differently.
This is what living is all about - immersing ourselves in other cultures, seeing all parts of the world, and opening our mind to think bigger and outside of ourselves.