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October 6, 2009

Traveling isn’t all hammocks and Mai Tais

hanginthere_bymaessive_flickrHistorically speaking, the word “vagabond” does not conjure up the best images. You might think it’s cool to describe yourself as a vagabond, but how about having a V branded on your hand? Not so cool, but in fact that’s just one of the many punishments meted out to vagabonds over the years.

While no one (that we know of) is heating up branding irons anymore, even today many people have a very negative image of vagabonds and long term travel. Tell people you’re headed around the world and it’s easy to watch them conjure up an image of a bunch of hippies in Bali, downing Mai Tais, lounging in hammocks and otherwise behaving like bums.

I’d like to say that’s exactly what long term travel is like, and of course on the good days it is, maybe not Bali, maybe not hippies, but hammocks and mai tais are a surefire win.

But that cliche image ignores a whole other aspect of traveling, the er, “character building” moments of frustration, anger and occasionally pain. Traveling isn’t always easy, in fact, sometimes it’s downright hard.

Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott of the Uncornered Market travel blog recently put up a great post looking at the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Travelers,” in other words, a guide to what you can learn from the frustration, anger and occasional pain of travel.

As they write: “While we may occasionally indulge in beachside cocktails here and there, our days are typically filled with on-the-fly problem solving in ever-changing contexts: finding decent places to sleep, negotiating safe transport, and keeping ourselves well and well-fed so that we may focus on understanding the places we visit and the people we meet.”

The list covers situation most of us have encountered, from trying to overcome language barriers to transportation that never arrives. For each of the items in their list, Noll and Scott have related anecdotes and a larger what-you-can-gain-from-it perspective.

The short story: the more adaptable you are the easier it is to travel, the more you’ll learn and the more time you’ll have to find the perfect hammock.

[photo credit, maessive, Flickr]

Posted by | Comments (6) 
Category: Adventure Travel, Vagabonding Advice, Vagabonding Life


6 Responses to “Traveling isn’t all hammocks and Mai Tais”

  1. ruzz Says:

    During my last backpacking trip to Central America I realized that I was looking for cheap lodging as basically my full time job. So I came back and called it quits on backpacking, for a while, until I know more like, what I’m trying to get out of it. I don’t want to just look for $5 USD hotels and sit on the beach. As nice as that sounds, unless you’re sure that’s what you want, it’s not that great.

  2. Rod Smith Says:

    The link leads to a very interesting article. Thanks for the post!

    Ruzz, were you having to move every day or two? I wonder about the ‘full time job looking for lodging’ statement. When I backpack, I usually find a place and stay there until I feel the urge to move along. Sometimes thats a couple of days, and sometimes its two lazy weeks. I can make it whatever I want (as long as I don’t spend any money on Mai Tais I can last a looong time). Seriously – drinking is a HUGE killer on a backpacker’s budget in some places.

  3. Turkey Traveller Says:

    Interesting blog. Check out mine at http://love-turkey.blogspot.com/ :) thanks :)

  4. Does Travel Lead to Service? — State of Place Says:

    [...] for syllables might call phenomenological enrichment. Our travel gains fall on a spectrum from Mai Tais and hammocks to life skills and perspective we can bring home (or onward to our next independent [...]

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