How to Be an Indie Traveler Anywhere You Go

In November of last year, BootsnAll introduced the 30 Days of Indie Travel, during which we explored different aspects of what travel means to us – and we invited you to do the same. We kicked off 2012 by launching the Indie Travel Challenge, in which we’re posting a prompt once every week with travel-related questions or topics for you to blog about. We’re only a month in, and it’s already a conversation we’re excited to be having with you.

And this week, we’ve announced something that’s been in the works for quite awhile – the Indie Travel Manifesto – and we wanted to highlight one of the aspects of the Manifesto that’s important to us at BootsnAll and, we hope, important to you, too.

You can be an indie traveler anywhere you go – even at home. In fact, indie travel isn’t all about traveling.

We know. It sounds weird. It looks weird. But hear us out.

If indie travel isn’t just about travel, then what is it, exactly? Definitions can be tricky. As is often the case, it’s easier to articulate what indie travel is not – on this, we are unequivocal: indie travel is not the yellow hat brigade. It’s not staying within the confines of a resort because you think the locals are dangerous. It’s not spending every day of your trip getting drunk with other backpackers. It’s not close-minded, fearful, egotistical, or insulated.

We can (usually) agree that even the folks who wear those yellow hats and blindly follow tour guides, or those who travel far from home just to hang out with the same people they would in their hometown, do deserve some credit for having a passport and using it, but the fact remains that there are styles of travel that are far from independent – and those are two of them. We may applaud the decision to travel, but there’s no way any of us would call that indie.

What, then, can we say about indie travel?

Indie travel means not taking your surroundings for granted. Ever. It’s about about making connections with people – other travelers, locals, taxi drivers, hotel staff, whoever – because you’re genuinely curious about them. Indie travel bridges the gap between observation and experience, giving us a better look at life in a particular place and making us feel more a part of a destination – even if it’s only for a short time.

Indie travelers are aware of and respectful toward what’s important to that place and the people there (whether it’s important to you or not), no matter what it is, no matter where you are. They make the most of mishaps, sometimes turning them into trip highlights. They see – and often seek out – whimsy amid the mundane.

Indie travel means pushing the limits of your comfort zone – it means acknowledging your fears and going for it anyway. And those indie travel moments stick with you long after the trip itself is over.

In short, indie travel is a state of mind – a worldview we take with us everywhere. It’s not just about what we do, it’s about who we are.

So, what does this mean on a practical level? It means that you can be an indie traveler anywhere you go, no matter how long you’re gone, or how far you travel - whether that’s around the world, or around the block. We don’t stop being indie travelers when we get back from a trip. We bring the same sense of wonder and curiosity to a spontaneous detour on a drive taken regularly that we have when exploring an unfamiliar town. We can take a day trip to a nearby city with the same indie traveler’s enthusiasm for adventure that we bring to a round-the-world trip.

There’s absolutely no reason a thirst for discovery should be limited to places that require a passport or a plane ticket.

What do you think? How do you keep your indie travel mindset at home?

Are you an indie traveler? Join the movement. Sign the Manifesto. Check out the whole Indie Travel Manifesto, add your voice to the conversation, or sign your support.

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Photos by: mamloco,

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