At the start of a new year and a new journey, I feel blessed to have had an opportunity of seeing a big part of our beautiful world and be able to appreciate its beauty and grandeur. In answer to my friends’ and my travel workshop’s participants’ constant queries on my most essential tips for designing a travelling lifestyle, I finally decided to pen down my definitive list. If you possess the following 5 essential things, you will, without a doubt, embark on many interesting journeys and your life itself will be a never-ending, ever-interesting trip.
These are the only 5 ‘things’ you need:
1. Your Health
Many a times I am asked this question in my travel workshops, “what is that one thing without which you can’t travel?” And perhaps people expect answers like passport, money, credit-card, lots of money, mobile phone, boat-loads of money etc. but it’s none of that. My answer to this question is the same if someone asked me “what is the most important ingredient for leading a happy life”.
It is your personal health.
Think about it, you can manage everything else but if your body isn’t able to get up and go and do more, there’s not much that you can do, quite literally. Health is not absence of illness; definition of health is not your weight or BMI or calories intake. Health is your body’s strength to endure, your stamina, balance and ability to be flexible. Its one of the most essential things to have a travelling lifestyle.
Amazingly, the preparation for this single most important thing is ongoing and starts at home – when you are not travelling. The foundation of good health begins at home. So if you are looking forward to a travelling lifestyle , keep the following in mind : Eat healthy – very, very healthy. Like go overboard on eating the right stuffs. Exercise a little bit every day. Don’t sit at one place for too long – sitting is the new smoking. It kills. Give up smoking. Cut your alcohol consumption by half and keep cutting it. Drink lots of water. Over time, you will see that these habits will allow you to travel more, by keeping your expensive spending habits in check and by helping you to boldly go where few travelers can go.
2. A sense of adventure
Also known as a desire to give up your daily comforts.
It is of course possible to travel in a style that you are always held in the gentle lap of luxury – soft beds (even softer than the ones at home), clement weather – not too hot not too cold – either naturally or artificially, sumptuous buffet spreads at all meals, people at your beck and call etc. And there’s nothing wrong in that. But if you don’t have millions to spend on your travels and if you are the kind of traveler who likes to connect to the real world then you must travel in a way that challenges your limits every now and then.
Adventure might mean different things for different people. For some people, even travelling in a local train is an adventure and for some people, walking up the steep rice fields of Banaue might be the adventure which actually is a daily routine for a farmer there. Whatever your adventure is, it is important that you should want to get out of the comforts of your daily lives and do something different that challenges your body and mind.
Going to very hot places, very cold places, ability to sleep anywhere – a train station at 2 am for a delayed train or next to a snoring stranger in a bus slowly moving in the jungles of Amazon Rain forest, figuring out how to get from point A to point B in a new city on your own. And even learning to live without those cute bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion and hand cream in the hotel room. Make life a bit tough for yourself. Choose experiences that force you to see things differently. The different-er, the better!
3. A skill that people are willing to pay for
I know it’s very fashionable these days to quit your job to travel. And you must – if you are not good at your job; or if that job, or that company, or the work they ask you to do, or the people that you work with make you miserable. But you don’t have to quit your job to travel. In fact having a source of income can give you freedom to travel more. You should be able to sustain your passion on your own without having to ask parents, partners, neighbors or banks to fund you.
What totally depends on you is how much income you think you need and how you decide to earn that income. It could be through a job or through freelancing assignments. It could be by doing a MBA-type job or through photography. Of course, it will be best if you are able to match your income to some work that you love doing; and it will be great if your work allows you or even requires you to travel. But none of it is a necessity. What is necessary is that you have a skill (or two!) and you can put your skill to some productive use that is of some value to people and they are willing to pay you for it in cash or kind. You can then integrate your work and travelling in your life in a way that suits you best.
4. A sense of wonder & curiosity
A sense of ‘The world is so much larger than me and what I know’ is one of the essential traits you are required to possess if you want to travel like an explorer. This item is a tricky one because you don’t quite know if you have it or not. But it’s easy to figure it out. Do you like to know about a place before and after you visit it? Do you like to talk to locals about their daily lives there? When in doubt on the road, do you naturally walk up to a stranger and ask whatever it is that you wanted to know (why is this shop closed? Do you know when will it open?).
Do you pick up a local magazine or a local newspaper to read when you are visiting? When you see a natural phenomenon such as northern lights or even a high tide / low tide, do you wonder what makes it happen and Google it ? Or when you see a festival like bull-runs in Spain or Loy Krathong in Thailand, do you try to find out the significance? Name of their local dress? Why do they eat what they eat? How come their trains run on time? How come their platforms are so clean and why don’t they push to get in? How was Burj Khalifa made? Why was it made? Why is it called Burj Khalifa ?
One easy way to find out if you have a sense of wonder / curiosity or not is to judge it by how many questions arise in your mind and how do you find answers to them. Ask questions and encourage your fellow travellers to ask questions, including your kids. A questioning mind is an open mind.
5. Using Technology like a Ninja
While you don’t exactly need it for travelling, but use of technology will make your travels infinitely easier and also cheaper and that in turn will help you travel more. While most people have no problems working on internet and their mobile phones, the trick is to be able to use the features and the information in a way that works most efficiently for you. It might sound too basic but you can get more out of your searches also if you know how to use Google effectively. How do you do that? Use Google for that too 😀
- Use Google to search for every travel query that you may have : ‘how to look for cheap airfares’, ‘train connectivity from Kamakura to Nagano’, ‘cheap stay options in Maldives’, ‘places to eat in Luxor’, ‘essential things to do’, ‘free things to do for kids’. Whatever is your question, someone has an answer.
- Use mobile Apps to plan, book, research. How to find best apps – yes, use Google !
- Use Social Networking Sites – because a lot of your answers can come from your network. And you will be amazed how many people want to know and see what you are doing so use FB, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Youtube, Quora , Thorntree etc to ask questions and to put up your updates too. Try to make your content worth your readers’ while.
- Use Shared Economy / Local Economy solutions such as Uber, Couchsurfing, Airbnb, Seeksherpa etc. Use Google Maps for estimating distances, finding shortest route etc.
- Use Metasearch Engines like Skyscanner, Ixigo, Kayak etc. to help you find good deals.
- Use good camera apps and photo-editing apps to get more out of your phone camera.
- Use Skype, Google Hangout, Facetime, Whatsapp etc. to keep your family satisfied that you are safe.
Once you start using the solutions that reside on the palm of your hand, you will see how easy it is to just plan-on-the-fly, pick up your bag and go. And do it very often. And gradually, your passport will start collecting interesting stories from all over the world.
Oh yeah, you need a passport 😉 Though it is possible to travel without it but you might get detained for long periods of time hence hampering your chances of travelling so why risk that? :-p
You might be wondering about a few items that are missing from here. Check out part 2 of this post which is ‘5 things that you think you need for travelling but actually you don’t’ 😉
Stay Tuned !