On November 1, we launched the first 30 Days of Indie Travel project. Every day for one month, we posted a new prompt and asked bloggers from around the world to respond in words, photos and videos, sharing with us the best stories and experiences from their travels. We’ve been thrilled with the response; it was great to see so many people get involved and even better to see the world through a diverse group of indie travelers. Some of the bloggers really rose to the challenge – blogging for all 30 of the daily prompts!
Now that the month is over, here’s a look back at some of the best contributions.
PROMPT #1 – GOALS
Not surprisingly, most of the goals mentioned for the very first day of the 30 Days of Indie Travel were about where you wanted to go and how much you wanted to travel. From week-long trips to Europe to teaching English in Asia to planning around the world trips, it seems readers will be doing a lot of traveling in 2012! One of my favorite posts was from Two Oregonians, which offered some great tips for making your goals come true, including keeping them in sight and reminding yourself of them every day.
PROMPT #2 – EMBRACING CHANGE
Most of us have experienced some big changes in the last year, but I love how Katie Going Global makes the distinction between embracing “safe” change and really taking a leap and welcoming some exciting and possibly scary changes into your life. Embracing welcome changes is easy; truly being open to changes that scare us is more challenging. Jade of Vagabond3 embraces change by embracing both sides of her travel personality – both the planner and the spontaneous traveler.
PROMPT #3 - MUSIC
Who knew “Country Roads” was such a travel anthem? We found mention of the song in three different blog posts, including Angelinem’s and Katie’s from Katie Going Global. Have Roots and Wings posted a pretty rocking list of songs, but I especially loved the playlist from Traveling 9-5 – a collection of, not songs, but sounds that evoke certain places and moments.
PROMPT #4 – MISTAKES
Katie Going Global posted another great contribution to the 30 Days of Indie Travel; this list of her worst travel mistakes shows how few mistakes are really that tragic, and can often lead to great things.
PROMPT #5 – KINDNESS
While many people posted stories about how someone else showed them kindness, a few people reminded us we can often be the person who eases another’s fears and show them the kindness we hope to receive from others. Fluent in Frolicking says she makes frequent deposits to her “Travel Karma Bank” so that someone is there to help her when she needs it in return.
PROMPT #6 – FEAR
Stories shared in the day six prompt ranged from irrational phobias like a fear of flying to a truly nerve-wracking encounter with a scary stranger. Sometimes our fear is justified and is our body’s way of keeping us safe; that’s why 50 Plus and On the Run says we shouldn’t we be afraid of fear. But as Jesse Unstuck pointed out in one of my favorite posts, the place where the magic happens is usually not withing your comfort zone; amazing experiences are often the reward for pushing through the fear.
PROMPT #7 – CELEBRATE
From Croatian dinners to Italian festivals, there was a whole lot of celebrating going on for indie travelers in 2011. This simple but beautiful post on a celebration in Morocco captures the energy and excitement of taking part in a local festival or event.
PROMPT #8 – LOVE LEARNING
Indie travelers have learned everything from how to surf in Costa Rica to how to make Italian pasta; they’ve learned how other people live and why; and while it seems travel helps us learn about the world, it also helps us learn a lot about ourselves. Front Sherpa sums up some of the big lessons from this year, including the very important: never assume you know a place before going there and experiencing it for yourself. And Nomadic Chick lists 30 things travel has taught her this year.
PROMPT #9 – ONE DAY
We asked bloggers to share the story of one perfect day, and while many responses told tales of epic adventure, some of the best contributions focused on enjoying the simple pleasures in life. For One Giant Step, the perfect day was filled with good beers and good friends, Heels and Wheels spent her perfect day in Thailand, and Sparkpunk summed up his perfect day with a moment of pure joy captured in a photo.
PROMPT #10 – EARTH
For the day ten prompt, we wanted to hear about time spent outdoors in nature. Spanky and Sarah shared the story of a day challenging themselves in the Arizona desert, Mittie Roger talked about eco-tourism in Costa Rica, and Zak had me just about convinced to visit Alaska in the dead of winter, thanks to his poetic writing about the state: The infinite grey horizon didn’t confront me in a way a mountain or ocean might: it expanded my mind out towards the edges, stripping away the usual fuss and clamor.. . .The earth was always there, opening up under me, unfolding towards the edges of the sky, unfolding towards heaven.
PROMPT #11 – FEAST
Indie travelers have taken a bit out of the world, in more ways than one, and have the stories and photos to prove it. Spanky and Sarah shared some of their favorite meals from a year of travel , Where Sidewalks End posted mouth-watering photos of food around the world, and One Giant Step described a delicious meal in a Laos night market.
PROMPT #12 – MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS
Meaningful connections can come in many different forms for different people, a fact reflected in the diversity of the experiences shared on day 12. In two of my favorites, World Wanderer talks about meeting someone special in Vietnam while Erin Graves has fond memories of two friends she met in Europe.
PROMPT #13 – HOME
Home can be a tricky idea for travelers, with many choosing a more nebulous definition. Anthony St. Clair probably earned a few crushes with the sweet post about his wife in which he says, “home is wherever she is” and One Giant Step echoed that sentiment, saying home is “wherever we are.” Zak at Sparkpunk took a more definitive stance, writing about his home in Alaska, and “what happens when the place will kill you and the people will save you.”
PROMPT #14 – QUOTE
On the BootsnAll blog, we rounded up some of our favorite quotes about travel, and found many of them were also appreciated by other bloggers. Katie Going Global posted one of the most popular from Mark Twain: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. And One Giant Step shared a simple gem from Shawshank Redemption: Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.
PROMPT #15 – CITY
We asked and bloggers answered, dishing about their favorite (and least favorite) cities on earth. My World Discovered lauds the appeals of Cape Town, Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Shanghai, while Renovating Italy shares enchanting photos of the city that stole her heart, Florence, Italy. Erin Graves professes her love for Boston, and World Flavor contrasts a favorite city (San Francisco) with a least fave (Los Angeles).
PROMPT #16 – BAGGAGE
While many of us know the benefits of packing light, a few confess to still have trouble doing it, like Muffled Solitude. World Flavor lightens her load by packing an e-reader, while Erin Graves shares how, though she doesn’t travel light, each bag she’s had has given her experiences to cherish.
PROMPT #17 – PASSION
One of the core values at BootsnAll is to “work and play with passion” and while Traveling 9-5 points out that “passion doesn’t pay the bills,” it’s clear that pursuing a passion and being passionate about what you do is important to indie travelers around the world. Still looking for yours? BootsnAll’s Olivia shares how blogging helped her find her passion, and Spencer at the Traveling Philosopher says: Passion doesn’t just come to you. You’ve got to go get it.
PROMPT #18 – BUDGET
While the size of the budget may range, every traveler participating in the 30 Days of Indie Travel mentioned having a budget, or at least a rough idea of what they can afford to spend on travel. But when it came to where to spend that money, the answers were more diverse. Open Passports will splurge on good food. Traveling 9-5 saves on alcohol, and spends on experiences (as does Jonk), but says the one thing to never sacrifice is connections…and a daily cup of coffee. The World of Deej takes another tactic – dreaming big and then slowly scaling back to what he can afford.
PROMPT #19 – SPIRIT
When BootsnAll’s Jessica talks about the stillness at Haida Gwaii you can imagine the calm one must experience in a place where, she says, ” it feels like the earth is at rest.” For Go Explore the World, Cho La Pass in the Everest region of Nepal evokes a similar feeling, while for Ramblings and Wonderings, it comes at the Grand Canyon. And for Spanky and Sarah, it was the Alps of Switzerland, where Sarah says, “I imagine God breathing life into the hills, covering it with this white sugar blanket.”
PROMPT #20 – DRINK
Most indie travelers enjoy sampling the local drinks – whether that means cooling down with Rome’s Liquid of the Gods, trying rice wine in Vietnam, of making friends with a Cava-toting stranger on a Spanish train. Do What You Want Weekends shared the story of Beaujolais Nouveau and the World Wanderer says the best part of drinking beer around the world is the people you drink it with.
PROMPT #21 – LOVE AFFAIR
Some travelers find love on the road, but for Spanky and Sarah, their time exploring the world brought them closer together. And Traveling 9-5 shares how traveling the world helped her see a new side of her husband. But as BootsnAll’s Jessica says, you don’t need to have an actual love affair to get the benefits. Sometimes falling in love with possibility can be just as satisfying.
PROMPT #22 - TRANSIT
Indie travelers get around in a myriad of different ways; from rickety buses to delayed planes, there were stories about every type of transportation. But it seems most people wrote about road trips that changed them. The World Wanderer posted photos from a family road trip, while Wandering Kiwi told of the trials of bus travel in Tajikistan. And Travels with Patricia shared a beautiful brief moment behind the wheel.
PROMPT #23 – TECHNOLOGY
We asked bloggers to tell us about the technology they love the most, or how tech has changed the way they travel. The number one answer: the internet, and as Anthony St. Clair points out, all the advances made possible by the internet . One of those advancements – Skype – keeps Have Roots and Wings connected on the road. But Zak at Sparkpunk argues, while technology is great, it’s easy to do without. Technology can be replaced….but lose something analog and tangible, something you contributed to and helped form into its present state? That’s a good chunk of your soul you’ll never see again.
PROMPT #24 – GIVING THANKS
For Thanksgiving, we wanted to hear what you are thankful for this year. Katie Going Global was thankful for simple things ranging from the kindness of strangers and staying in touch with Facebook to indoor plumbing and Snickers bars. Traveling 9-5 is thankful for a year that defied expectations, and I posted a list of 21 things I’m thankful for this year, including my husband, street food, soft hotel beds, and efficient Swiss trains.
PROMPT #25 - FAMILY
Family undeniably shapes us, but not always in the ways we expect. World Flavor’s parents weren’t world travelers, while Erin Graves was lucky to see the world from an early age, but both bloggers developed their own passion for travel. The World Wanderer credits her parents with her travel bug, sharing how on road trips, her mom would always say, “We aren’t lost, we’re on an adventure.”
PROMPT #26 – PHOTO
Sometimes all it takes is a photo to get me planning another trip, and I’ve got plenty ideas thanks to the great photo submissions for day 26. YQ Traveling posted a gorgeous photo of a lavender field just begging to be run through, the World Wanderer shared a pic of the sparkling blue waters around Croatia, and She Wears Short Shorts couldn’t narrow down to one place she wanted to be, so she posted photos of Tokyo, Bahamas, and Madrid. Sherry Hardage shared a look at her favorite places in Mexico and Esha reminded me that there are beautiful places closer than you think with her photo of a mountain in Vermont.
PROMPT #27 - WANDERLUST
On day 27 we asked for a photo or video that makes you just want to hit the road this second. World Flavor came through with a gorgeous photo of Turkey, Erin Hutton went all out with a photo essay of several special places, while BootsnAll’s resident over-achiever Olivia posted not one, but eight videos that inspire her.
PROMPT #28 - GEAR
We knew we’d get some passionate responses about your must-have travel gear, but it was interesting to see how what one person thought was unnecessary, another wouldn’t leave home without. Case in point: AntSaint advocated for the money belt (and Rick Steves), while SpankyandSarah listed them both in the “not for me” category. Zak won’t leave home without a hammock and the World Wanderer brings a small pillow and blanket for the comforts of home. For Have Roots and Wings, the must-have list is a bit more simple: just a pen and notebook.
PROMPT #29 – ONE WORD
What one word would you use to explain what travel mean to you? Alive, experiences, adventure, passion, living, expansive, wonder, hope, and thrive were just a few chosen by bloggers for the penultimate prompt.
PROMPT #30 – 2012 TICKET
Where are you going in 2012? Erin Hutton is moving to Prague to teach English, while A Sense of Place is planning a move to Boston, and Brave New World Traveler is headed to Costa Rica. SpankyandSarah will be exploring Australia by campervan, Sparkpunk has a whole year of travel planned out, World Flavor is looking forward to Singapore and Malaysia, and Soul Investing has her eyes on Thailand. For others, the plans aren’t so set. World Wandered doesn’t know where she’s going, but she plans to challenge herself to travel alone. And all Open Passports knows it hat the next year will bring a lot of travel, spanning “over a few continents and more than twenty countries.” Happy travels!
Tell us where you are going by voting in our Facebook poll!
Thanks to everyone who participated in the 30 Days in Indie Travel project, and stay tuned for more fun challenges in coming months!