7th trait – The modern man has traveled.

traveling-man

It’s a new week and what better way to start it than with the next trait on our extensive list.

The modern man has traveled.

There are two questions to answer here. Why is it important to travel and how can the modern man travel well. The importance of travel is manifest in the development of the modern man’s mental maturity and character as well as the benefit of exposing him to different ideas, cultures, and methods of living. In short, you grow up and it removes you from your bubble. Now that we’ve got the why we do it out of the way, lets skip straight to how to avoid the many pitfalls of the modern traveler.

Travel Alone.

There are many advantages in traveling solo. Consider how many decisions are involved in the average day of a traveler. What time to get up, what time to leave, what will be the day’s plan, where do you eat, which direction are you heading, where are you going to sleep, the list is endless. If you travel with another person you will have to come to an agreement on every single one of your daily decisions. This ruins friendships.
Find a traveling companion on your journey. If you’re comfortable with them and they seem okay then ask them along. Even better, if they turn out to be a flake you can easily drop them. It’s quite hard to drop a good friend that you started the journey with.
Traveling alone means time spent alone. This leads to contemplation, self-reflection, and growth. You can take the time to see what’s around you at your own pace. It is a crucial aspect of the savvy traveler.

Travel without an Internet device.

Whether it be a phone, or a tablet, or maybe a laptop, leave all these devices at home. They are in direct conflict with the previous ideas of contemplation, self-reflection, and growth. With an internet device you will be permanently distracted. You won’t see what is around you. It will also enable you to easily solve problems. You don’t want that. Problems in a foreign country translate into an opportunity for adventure. If you’re lost you don’t pull out a GPS phone. You ask the locals, wander down side-streets, jump on the wrong bus, end up in a strange town, and stay the night at the house of the nice local girl that you met on that bus.
Use the internet only at internet cafes, and only when you need to send or receive messages.

Travel without a Camera.

Unless you have big plans to become the next great wildlife photographer, leave the camera at home. The more photos you take, the less you see. The quest for the perfect photo is not for you – it is for you to show off to your friends. Remember, we are not here to be narcissists. If you really see and experience what is around you then you will have it for the rest of your life. Just close your eyes and imagine yourself back at that place. There you are.
I have photos of my journeys. Other people took them for me. There are always other people taking photos. Ask them to send it to you. They will be happy as they will now feel useful, and you will have your photos that you didn’t have to take. Perfect.

Avoid your fellow Countrymen.

You are traveling to expand your horizons and grow. You will do neither while journeying with a bunch of people from your own culture who also know nothing of the world. It will become incestuous. You will repeat banalities and lame jokes in an attempt to impress them. You will see nothing of your travels. You will go home with a lot of drunk stories to tell that you could have experienced in any town in your home country.

Travel Light.

Here is how I pack. One hand held bag with a shoulder strap. In it I pack five good quality black cotton t-shirts, five changes of socks and underwear, a pair of cotton chinos, a woolen jumper, a woolen beanie, a waterproof goretex jacket, a pair of sandals, one nice button up shirt, a baseball cap, a pair of jeans, and my toiletries bag. Any room left over I pack with books. These books will be swapped with other travelers as I meet them on my journey. If I need anything else I purchase it on the way.

Impoverishment is not travel.

You are not more authentic if you spend your entire journey sleeping on mud hut floors. You are merely dirty. If you truly enjoy sleeping in those places then do it happily. But if you are doing any aspect of your journey to impress other people then you are doing it wrong, and every step taken leads nowhere. The very concept of authenticity is counter-productive to the art of travel. Also, do not do volunteer work. If you want to work make sure that you are paid the correct amount. Volunteering merely puts local unskilled labor out of work. The only exception to this is volunteering specific skills, such as if you are a qualified doctor.

Sitting around is not lazy.

A day spent relaxing on the couch is an acquired skill. Most people either feel guilty doing it or cannot sit still for two minutes. They must be occupied or the mind revolts. Learn how to sit. Traveling is not a competition. It does not matter if you stay in one place for a day, a week, a month, maybe a year. If you feel comfortable then stay for a while. Find a nice room to rent. Get to know the neighborhood. Walk the streets, explore. Learn the language, meet people. Who knows what will happen. That is travel.

The modern man has traveled.

3 thoughts on “7th trait – The modern man has traveled.

  1. Khan

    I spent a while not taking pictures on trips, but looking back now a few years later I’m very happy for the ones I did take. It’s easy to forget and those images will bring back (hopefully) great memories.

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  2. When I was in the Navy we stopped in quite a few places in the far east on the way to Iraq. My most memorable time was Singapore, when all the guys I was hanging out with wanted to find a McDonalds. I took off on my own and spent about ten hours walking through the city. I ate at a corner open air restaurant where no one spoke English. I paid by holding out a handful of money and letting them take what they needed. I didn’t get ripped off. I toured a couple Buddhist temples, found a great pottery bowl in a construction (or possibly junk) site, and I walked for miles without having any idea where I was going.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the camera idea though. Like Khan says, it is definitely worthwhile at the time, but looking back at all the times I didn’t take pictures I wish I had. So many things I don’t really have any memories of.

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  3. I have pictures of my travels, but other people took them. The only place I don’t have photos of my time there is Canada. It would be nice to have them, but people in my experience who took photos were always taking photos. They never took one here and there. It was this constant search for the perfect shot. In my opinion you’re either traveling or you’re taking photos while you happen to be traveling.

    Love the Singapore anecdote. Exactly what I’m talking about.

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