Life is beautiful – and is worth experiencing. It is more than your daily grind. It is happening at every hour of the day. While you are sleeping, someone else is living their life. Doing something completely opposite of what you do. Just thinking of that is enough to get my mind racing. Thinking about other peoples’ lives is something that can be, in my opinion, challenging at times.
It is important to practice a mindset of empathy, understanding, and even sympathy because you are so much more than your job, the guy that irritated you earlier today, your commute, or even your other day-to-day habits. We are more than just individuals who are consuming and are living. Life is more than Hollywood, selfies and striving for perfection. We are all connected, and can learn something from each other. Understanding and reminding yourself of this is almost like a mental fitness routine, and is something that will often take time and patience to develop. Travelling and seeing the world from someone else’s perspective is a great way to jumpstart and strengthen this mindset. Often, I get wrapped up in my daily 9-5 work flow, followed by some yoga, hanging out with my fiancé, etc. That is the time I need to work this mindset the most.
It is not something you can just imagine or picture. Seeing photos or watching documentaries, though somewhat helpful cannot compare to the real-life, first-hand experience. The reason being as you are going from using one or two senses to the full five.
I feel like we in the west have been led on a bit. Going to a “foreign” country, depending on how “foreign” I suppose, often requires multiple vaccinations, research and can often result in various messages of caution, danger, worry, etc. Typically, people will go to less fortunate countries and make a beeline to the resorts, which I suspect is perhaps out of ignorance and/or fear. They don’t take the time to learn about the culture or witness the day to day life of the residents first hand.
Now, I am definitely not suggesting someone go travelling without researching and taking the appropriate measures to have a pleasant visit, whatever that may be.
I feel we have been mislead by the tradition of the lack of cultural experience (resort trips) for fear of the unknown. Staying on a resort the entire time is not experiencing your current place of being, in my opinion. It is just a 1st world extension based on comfort and luxury. If that’s your kind of thing – there is nothing wrong with that, but it will be challenging to awaken and/or strengthen your ability to feel empathy and sympathy, which in turn will provide a deeper understanding of the world and the human connection overall. If you fall into this category, I highly recommend finding another way to work on this mindset as it is an important tool to awaken the true you.
There are many ways one can travel to various countries (or even within your own country!) without staying on a resort, or even in a typical “chain” hotel.
For example, I used the internet to search for a good place to stay for a week in Jamaica – and not a resort (and trust me! There are plenty of options, depending on where you’re looking to go I suppose)…I ended up using bedandbreakfast.com because it was the best price. I didn’t want to drop 3K on a week-long vacation. Not only do I not have that kind of money, I just think that is ridiculous!!!
We stayed at the lovely Freedom Palace in Ocho Rios. My fiancé and I really enjoyed staying with the lovely B&B owners. They were extremely friendly, gave us great directions, and were there when we needed them…but at the same time were not too overbearing. The rooms were private and quiet. In turn, I experienced Ocho Rios, St Ann, Jamaica in my own way, the way I had hoped. I did do a few tourist-y things (zip lining, Mystic Mountain, etc.) but my favorite experience was walking around the city and seeing people just living their lives.
It brought up a lot of different emotions at different times – happiness, sadness, empathy, sympathy, worry, love, and respect to name a few – and it changed me forever. Even though I’ve always adored dancehall and reggae music, had watched many documentaries on Jamaican life, and did as much research as I felt humanly possible, it still did not prepare me for the first-hand experience (and I should note, it never will!). Please note: I did not experience the nightlife, and was often in bed by 10:30 at the latest, so I can’t really speak much about that in particular.
I feel this is a good idea because you are contributing to the place you are visiting and are living the human experience through someone else’s day-to-day. It is also important to note that your labour (whether it be physical, computer skills, teaching English, nannying, etc.) covers your living expenses. It seems to be a very affordable way to travel (and meet new people!)
This appears to be another reasonable way to lodge at a reasonable cost. The places may range anywhere from a room in someone’s living space to your own building, etc.
I am tired of living ignorantly and so dependant on my first world habits. I look forward to updating you all on my pre-planning for this future trip. 🙂
In the meantime, for more ideas on travelling on a budget – I highly recommend checking out thisamericangirl.com ‘s article – I got a lot of great ideas and felt very inspired after reading it!
Hope everyone has a great day! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Originally posted October 14/15.