Nomad Mindset: Mentally Preparing for Travel.
Podcasts, books, blogs, and of course the cherished advice of travelers I have met thus far have all had commonalities.; they warned me of the great travel fallacy.
This fallacy holds that changing your backdrop will somehow change you has a person.
This could not be any more wrong.
For leaving an environment does not solely alter the entirety of your being. You cannot stop being the habit patterns and associations you have embraced for years just by packing up and leaving—there is no easy way to escape yourself.
Change is hard. Yet most of the personal transformation research indicates that it’s possible from any age so long as we are willing to intentionally work on making a change within ourselves.
If you are a long time reader, you won’t be surprised that it isn’t the gear, destination, or even the people that will have the greatest impact during travel—it’s the mindset we have when approaching each moment. For our perception is drastically modified by the mental framework we embrace in our daily lives.
Like much of how we live, preparing for travel has only been a twist on the same story. Here are a few lessons I have taken to mentally prepare myself for an up and coming trip to Asia. Cultivating a travel mindset has the potential to make your excursion the next great catalyst for change in your life. I hope these are valuable to you, as they have been profound in easing any doubts I have had while mentally preparing for travel.
Listening to Self
Many times while preparing for my backpacking trip I have been called mad, dumb, and crazy for deciding to go. People will tell me how dangerous it is, how I’ll die never to return, or how it is unstainable given the area of the world I will be staying.
Though I have also been given more lighthearted advice. I’ve been told to go see this and go try that. Told I need to bring this many pairs of underwear, and bring books that can inspire others.
But of all the things brought to my attention, nothing matches the number of times I have been asked the dreaded questions of criticism.
“Oh, how long do you plan on doing this?”
“What’s your plan after?”
“How will you sustain yourself with no job?”
Turn off the noise.
Ultimately everyone will have something to say about your travels. Given the broad range of opinions, it’s a waste to take it all seriously.
It’s up to you to stop listening. You suffocate from information overload and only fill yourself with doubt if you consider what the world says above your own ideals.
Try listening to yourself.
You are constantly becoming someone, know who that someone is and access if the information you are being given helps or harms the cultivation of that self. This way you can gratefully hear everyone out, but funnel out anything that is not of any value.
Strong Daily Habits
Time on the road is uncertain. Many things will change—including yourself—so chose to have a say in what types of self you are becoming.
For me, I have always tried my best to stick to my top 5 habits every day. These are the time-tested ways I choose to stay limber for the ever-changing life landscape.
With all the downtime available while traveling having a routine of some kind will help you ensure you are taking care of yourself on the road.
If you’re unsure what type of daily habit to start, I’m a big fan of keeping a journal and highly recommend you pick up journaling. I talk a lot about the practical benefits journaling in my Journaling for Growth series.
Commit: Make it Real
Ideas are great. But they are only the beginning. An idea lives and dies in ether if you are not willing to act on it.
Part of preparing for travel is incrementally making your ideas a reality—you gotta make it real.
That can mean announcing to your loved one your plans to leave, buying the plane ticket, throwing out all your unnecessary belongings, putting in your two weeks at work, or any number of external actions that solidify what’s going on in your head.
When you choose to do something like travel you must be continuously making it a reality. Otherwise, it is easy to overtime consume yourself with doubt. The idea will become ‘a poor investment’ or ‘not the right time’. The opportunity cost will always sway you away from travel.
Just remember there is more money to be made and opportunities to be had and if you limit yourself by keeping your ideas to yourself—hidden from reality—they will cease to ever come to fruition.
Hold On Loosely to Expectations
The world is never what it seems
We all have an internal depiction that comes to mind when we think of the places we will soon visit. It might be this wonderful place that if flooded with indigenous peoples with no technology, or a dangerous war zone struck by poverty.
Dispose of your expectations.
Ideas of how to feel in the future only soil what is to come. This is why I find the question “Are you excited?” so challenging. I just don’t know. I have no idea what to feel about a place I have not yet experienced. Sure I can do research and prepare, but that does not mean I know my future feelings.
Instead of formulating an imaginary land to access how you are supposable going to feel, just be open-minded to anything that can arise. Yes, villagers may have cell-phones and not every county that is developing has people living in cardboard boxes.
Consider Every Day an Opportunity
While traveling you are still susceptible getting sick.
The weather may be dreary.
Loneliness may arise.
Any number of things have the potential to ruin your mood and call for you to hide away.
Make every day the best day of your life.
No matter the external circumstance, we have the choice to make today a day of adventure. Every day can be filled with profound experiences if you are willing to change your mindset about what you believe to be happening. Sure we can view all those things above as negative, but we can also harness those times as means for becoming our greatest selves.
My friends and I once took a road trip from Pennsylvania to California. At our first big stop in Nashville it was raining. Where we upset? Sure, but it only took a microsecond for us to seize the opportunity to go take some cool rain pictures and make this stop the best stop it could be.
Remember that today is never a lost cause. You can change the framework of how you are perceiving the day and transform it into another opportunity for intentional living.
If you would like to check out the trip, my best friend vlogged the whole thing—I highly recommend you go check it out.
Accept Downtime for What It Is
Influence from my given society has hit me hard. It’s bred a sense that any free moment ought to be used to somehow advance me towards a successful life; I have been Americanized.
I feel anxious in moments of rest. Making even sleeping difficult, thoughts arise that claim I am wasting time and could be more effective at managing my life.
But this need not be the way we live, nor should it be considered the successful option.
In truth, it is more than often crippling.
The self-talk that arises when I sit idling between tasks is numbing, and it only increases in frequency as I allow myself to be still.
Training myself to find purpose in nothing is by far the hardest thing I have had to deal with. I work hard, challenge myself, yet the trial of accepting nothingness and allowing time to run along as I sit in stillness is physically painful for me.
Travel has qualities that cultivate stillness.
As I wait for flights or busses, wander the cities and villages, or eat alone in solitude, I am now forced to accept the downtime for what it is. These experiences do not have to become dressed up versions of themselves, for the sensory details that I have the opportunity to observe are so vivid that I can be struck by their presence alone.
Those are the lessons I have gathered in mentally preparing for travel. What are you doing to intentionally prep yourself for travel? I’d love to hear what you guys think are the most important things to consider.
My Motto: Today is the best day of my life
I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.
How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.