My sister has recently rediscovered Reader’s Digest Magazine at the public library. It’s the most eclectic mix of articles to ever share the same page. The June/July 2011 issue featured two short excerpts from Paul Theroux’s book The Tao of Travel. The article included a short list called “The Essential Tao of Travel.” I really liked this list and added my own commentary on each item. My previous post had items 1-5, this post is items 6-10.
6. Walk across a national frontier
I spent a summer working at Yellowstone National Park. It’s the oldest national park in the US and Wyoming was the “frontier” for the longest time. Even now, it’s one of the most sparsely populated states, especially considering its size. It’s a beautiful thing to stand somewhere and wonder how many people have seen the same vista.
7. Keep a journal
I don’t keep a journal in my “real life”, but beginning in college I started keeping a journal each trip I took. My grandma would give me journals for Christmas or my birthday and they would just sit there. Finally I put them to use. In December 1998 I traveled to Egypt with my mom, sister, and two friends from college to visit other college friends who lived in Cairo. Almost everything about that trip was eye opening – experiencing a completely different culture for the first time. Africa, Arabic, Ramadan, Christmas, New Years, Camels, The Nile. Thirteen years later I can read through my journal, smiling at the person I was in college. Thirteen years later I’m considering another trip to Egypt, this time to see one of my friends get married. How different will my journal be this time?
8. Read a novel that has no relation to the place you’re in.
This is easy for me. I felt no desire to read Out of Africa when I was in Tanzania this spring. I always bring books and magazines, but it’s usually fiction and completely unrelated to the adventure at hand. I know that I read all four Twilight books when I was in Thailand and the final installment of Harry Potter when I was in Door County.
9. If you must bring a cell phone, avoid using it.
When I’m traveling here in the states, it’s hard to go phone-less. Earlier this year, I had a great opportunity to catch up with college friends on a last minute trip to Illinois, just by posting my status on Facebook (using my cell phone). Last fall I went without my phone for ten days in Aruba and Curacao. There is nothing like lying on the beach in November to make you feel far away from Colorado. But every time I see someone texting their way through dinner with a friend it makes me wonder why they even bothered to show up.
10. Make a friend
Traveling alone (#2) makes it easier to make a friend. You are more outgoing when you aren’t with your family and best friends. Over Memorial Day my sister and I went to Santa Fe. We stopped for cocktails before meeting up with some other friends who randomly happened to be visiting from Wisconsin (thank you again, Facebook for letting us know). I start chatting with the guy next to me and my sister starts chatting with the table behind us, and before the evening ends, there are 8 of us dancing at a jazz club. If you’re too caught up in being you, you can’t enjoy the fun and novelty of meeting others.