This is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel project, a daily blogging challenge with a prompt for every day in November 2011. Check out the prompt at the bottom of this post to find out how you can participate!
A passport is opportunity. Without embracing that opportunity, however, it’s nothing but a stack of colorful paper glued together.
Knowing I have a valid passport at home gives me the kind of freedom to imagine clicking “buy” on that ticket to Paris. It makes me feel like the world really is my proverbial oyster, ready and waiting for me for when I next choose to explore it. Simply having a passport is my invitation to dream, to browse the travel aisles at Powell’s with more than a desire I can’t fulfill, to allow a photograph of a far-off place to introduce me to my next travel destination.
But using that passport? Digging it out of its hiding place and presenting it at the airport with an international plane ticket in my pocket? That’s taking the dream by the hand and following where it leads. That’s saying, “Sure, Possibility, I’d love to have lunch with you – I mean, what else do I have going on today?” That’s embracing change, whether change wants the hug or not.
It is possible, as we all know, to travel outside one’s home country and still not leave home. All the traveler has to do is surround himself with people who sound like him, gravitate toward familiar foods, and see everything as a spectator – only through a camera lens. It’s not only possible to do this, it’s easy. Easier, in fact, than to truly open ourselves up to what lies beyond our comfort zones.
To really embrace change requires a leap of faith. A leap of faith implies that the outcome could be disastrous, and that’s definitely possible when traveling. How many stories have we heard (if not experienced personally) of people getting ill enough from the food or water in another country that they need to be hospitalized, or of people having their pocket picked and losing credit cards and important documents? Even something as relatively innocuous as the monument or museum you traveled to see being closed for renovations during your entire visit is enough to give the traveler good reason to think that the leap of faith may not have worked out in their favor.
More often than not, however, it’s the chances we take when traveling that leave us with the most lasting travel memories. Had you not asked that smiling shopkeeper for directions you may not have ended up being invited home for tea. Had you not opted for the out-of-the-way restaurant full of locals with no English menu you may not have had the best meal of your trip (at half the price). Had you not put the camera down in order to talk with the other customers at the cafe you may never have learned why they giggled at you for eating with your left hand.
Embracing change means not just being able to deal with difficult situations you find yourself in, it also means seeking out the challenges. It means stepping outside your comfort zone not because you’re forced to, but because you want to – because you know that even though change might not always be good, it’s always a learning experience. Could you have learned why eating with the left hand is a no-no in many countries by reading about it? Of course. But I’d wager that such knowledge is always more fleeting if read, and lasting if experienced first-hand.
Your passport, an ever-present butler, opens doors for you. It would be rude not to walk through, no?
30 Days of Indie Travel Project: How to Participate
We’re inviting bloggers from around the world (that means you, too!) to join us in a daily blogging effort designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.
We’ll share some of our favorites via Twitter and Facebook throughout November, as well as a round-up article at the end of the month, so if you’re playing along make sure to let us know – use the #indie30 hashtag on Twitter, and link to the 30 Days of Indie Travel page in your post so we’ll be able to find it.
Find out all of the 30 Days of Indie Travel blogging prompts so far – it’s never too late to join in the fun!
Prompt #2: Embracing Change
Change can be exciting and bring new joys into our lives. But it can present challenges that frustrate or annoy us. How has travel changed you in the last year? Did you welcome these changes or resist them at the time, and how do you feel about them now?
Tools and inspiration: Read how traveling lightly changed one traveler’s life.