The awesome folks over at BootsnAll Travel are hosting the 2015 Indie Travel Challenge to encourage travellers to think about what inspires them to roam and to share their learnings with others with the #DoYouIndie hashtag. By answering thought-provoking questions posed by BootsnAll, travellers are reflecting on and sharing why they travel, how they got started, and what there is to do in their hometowns. Today’s challenge is to come up with your top ten values for life and travel in order to create your own manifesto.
As a traveller who practices mindfulness, pausing to reflect on my need to explore is an important exercise and one of the reasons why started this blog in the first place. To me, travel grows my soul and fills my mind with enriching memories and experiences that I can carry forward through life. Over the years, I have learned a few things on how to get the most out of the travel experience and to do it in the most Zen way possible.
So without any further delay, here are my top 10 values that make up the Zen Traveller’s Manifesto:
1) Practice travel gratitude:
Travel is never something to be taken for granted and those who get to travel need to recognize that they are tremendously privileged. Many people in the world will never venture far beyond the place they were born, so those who do are very fortunate. By recognizing that every trip, whether weekend or month-long is a precious gift, travellers can better cope with the frustrations that they may encounter on the road. Remember that next time an impoverished local is trying to scam you. It would be easy to get mad at him, but you have the choice to be there, while he doesn’t.
This little boy has no shoes or pants, but do tell me about how hard your life is.
2) Travel is for you and no one else:
Don’t travel if it’s someone else’s idea of fun but not yours. Don’t travel if you do it to be the coolest person around. Travel because it makes you feel good, inspires you, and/or gives you something to work for.
3) Travel responsibly:
Travellers have a responsibility to leave the places they visit better than they were before. Tourism can improve people’s lives and ecosystems for the better, but only if it is done responsibly. Be sure to do some research before visiting a place to make sure your visit will have a positive impact.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda puts tourism dollars toward conservation
4) Spread your wealth around:
It can feel easy and safe to stick to the heavily-trafficked tourist areas, but branching out and spending money in the local economy is an excellent way to give back to the communities that host us when we travel. Doing so can be especially helpful to women in less developed countries and can lead to fun and memorable interactions with the local population.
Women sell their goods in a colourful market in Siby, Mali.
5) Value experiences over things:
No one ever wishes on their deathbeds that they had bought more stuff. Seek out enriching experiences and share them with others. They’ll stay with you longer and mean more to you than that fancy new gadget ever will.
I’ll never forget learning to rock climb in Mali.
6) There is no adventure too small:
Adventures don’t need to be expensive and epic undertakings. Head to a park across town that you’ve never been to before. Learn a new hobby. Spend time volunteering with immigrants or children for a fresh perspective. Any adventure that enriches the soul and mind is a worthy pursuit.
Walking through the rock garden on nearby Mount Allen.
7) Seek quiet moments:
While so much of travel is rushing around through crowded transit hubs, engaging in thrill-seeking activities, or enjoying drinks in noisy bars, it is often the quiet moments will stick that with you for a long time. Quiet moments allow you to pause and appreciate all that you have seen and reflect on what you have learned, so they should be both sought out and celebrated.
8) Make what inspires you a priority:
It can be very easy to get sucked into the rat race and keep up with Jones mentality, but staying true to what’s most important to you will bring you the most happiness. If making a comfortable home is what you love, then focus on that. If travelling the world is what inspires you, organize your priorities around making that happen. Ignore the din of the expectations of others.
9) Be present:
If you’re travelling, put down your camera and notebook and enjoy the present moment. If you are at home, put down your gadget and enjoy the company you’re with. It’s so easy to do things on auto-pilot, but by taking the effort to bring your focus to the present, you have the opportunity to make the most of the experiences you encounter.
Enjoy every sunset.
10) There’s always more to learn:
Nothing is ever set in stone. Through lifelong learning positions can be revisited, mindsets can be changed, and values can challenged. If you remain open to learning, your next burst of inspiration is always right around the corner.
Inspiration can be found anywhere.
So there you have the Zen Travellers Manifesto. In sum, it is about finding balance between your good and your better self, between yourself and others and from within your environment, wherever that may be. I hope that our manifesto inspired you to live and travel well and to find your own version of Zen.