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The art of going with the (travel) flow

VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels

I don’t always find it easy to go with the flow. It’s a philosophy I try to live by, but living in the moment, without expectations, is harder than climbing any mountain or dealing with Chinese police in an interrogation room at the Beijing airport.

It’s one of the reasons I travel — and not the type of travel that’s planned down to the last detail. I mean the kind of travel where you hop on a plane, flip through your guidebook and figure out the rest when you arrive at your destination.

Photo Credit: iStock

Some people think of this as disorganized or even irresponsible; others see it as non-committal. I think it’s something different altogether — a chance to get out of our structured, scheduled lives and put ourselves in a position where we have to live in the moment, trust our instincts and roll with the punches.

I don’t find it particularly easy to do this. I love making lists and organizing things (anything, really), so it’s unsettling to show up in a foreign country without any idea of where I’m going to sleep that night or what I’ll do the next day.

It’s uncomfortable, even frightening. But it’s also liberating. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll probably do a few stupid things along the way — but that’s going to happen even if you plan out your trip to the last detail. And so what if you make mistakes?

A friend was telling me recently about the results of a 10-year study that looked at the characteristics of the happiest people in the world — regardless of race, culture or religion. The common characteristic among these people was the ability to step out of their comfort zone and accept life, without focusing on expectations or outcomes.

If you have an inflexible itinerary, or walk around with the idea that everyone is out to screw you over, you’re going to miss out on spontaneity, unexpected surprises and small acts of kindness. Traveling reminds me to go with the flow and to be open to whatever happens — because you can always learn something, even from the not-so-good stuff.

It’s a lesson I try (and “try” is the operative word) to apply when I arrive back home and my backpack is stowed away in my bedroom closet — because you don’t have to get on a plane and fly to a foreign country to practice the art of going with the flow. We have that opportunity every single day, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing.

But traveling … well, it’s a great way to practice.
Vawn


Date Added: July 18, 2013 | Comments (0)

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