I was reading my normal run of blogs this weekend and found a quote in Keith’s post at Traveling Savage that really spoke to me. He mentioned his latest set of mindset based posts was a “a pre-trip exercise routine for my brain.” I am really quite interested in the human brain and how travel affects it. This really made me think about what I do mentally before travel. I realized that I build a set of mental goals and think how I can grow toward them during the trip.
Seeking to Balance a Wandering Spirit
So I recently wrote on what is important to me when traveling. Those are general things that I try to do with my life and especially while traveling. They are the reasons that I travel, not necessarily the reasons for any specific trip. Broad aims, not really specific steps.
I am by nature a creative wanderer. I follow pathways to just see what is at the end. Left to my own devices I will tend to spend an entire afternoon either sitting watching people or wandering aimlessly through streets. As much fun as that is, after a few days I get the feeling that I am really wasting time. I have found recently, that having a plan and some goals helps to balance the indecisive wanderer part of me. It is like a bicycle, balanced always gives you the most motion. (and fewest skinned knees)
I know that I can always rely on my instincts to wander, so I try to put together a set of goals for each trip. What kinds of thing that I would want to accomplish or experience or strive toward on that trip. Often these are personal goals, not just seeing specific stuff, although that is decent too. They allow me to have a rough direction to take my wanderings. In the end I feel this sort of mental planning helps make a trip more worthwhile.
However, the point is not to make such a rigid plan. I live normally in a rigid plan world, which is partly why I enjoy the random wanderings. I don’t ever want to miss great opportunities due to inflexibility. In fact sometimes having some direction or idea can bring cool experiences. Given my main aim in travel is always to meet people, it is remarkably attractive to have a direction and invite others to come along. And being not so rigid allows you to change plans if they happen to have a better idea.
As I mentioned, I tend to be indecisive. Having these sorts of goals helps put me into a mindset to make certain decisions. When I get under the stress of travel, it helps to have a gentle mental nudge to make decisions.
This is part of my “pre-trip mental exercise” and why the phrase struck me. If I was a person that by nature was very plan heavy, I think I would strive to not over-plan the trip to provide the balance. Is anyone like this? Is that what you do? Comment please.
The best goals for me are things that I can achieve easier when travel, due to time freedom or mental distance from real life, but affect my life in a broader way. Travel is such a freeing thing that you can try out mindsets much easier during travel than you can when following your normal paths. So if you want to make a change, try it on during travel. If you like it, then you have some experiences to bring into your life, without the mass of resistance that a day-to-day life can present.
These goals should:
- Mean something to me. Otherwise there is no benefit in reaching them.
- Are not so critical that if I don’t reach them I am shuttered. The pressure of the goals cannot be so much that you give up other opportunities and spontaneity.
- Within reach given the trip time. Writing a novel or meeting my one and true soul mate are usually out of scope for a week long trip.
- Pick one fear in my life and make it a goal to practice against it. Travel often is already conquering the fear of the unknown, why not add an extra bonus fear to be conquered.
So as an example, here are the goals I had in mind with my latest trip to Prague:
- Prepare blog content and organize ideas.
- Talk to attractive girls. Not hit on, have discussions.
- Go to the Pilsner Brewery.
1 was something I was able to do due to time freedom. 2 is a fear that I am working on conquering, that during travel is easier to deal with. 3 was just something cool I wanted to do. (Didn’t make it though.)
I hope never to lose the creative wandering urge. I have just learned that giving it direction gives it more power to affect my life for good.