Author: Pamela MacNaughtan

How the Indie Manifesto Informs My Travels

Editor’s Note: This month we’re celebrating the tenets of the Indie Manifesto with a community project we’re calling the Indie Travel Challenge (ITC). Participants will have a chance, every day of the month of November, to reflect on a question or a challenge and share. Sign up now and don’t miss a day! Share your reflections on Twitter using the hashtag: #doyouindie

Today, Pamela MacNaughtan highlights a few of the manifesto values and reflects on how they manifest in her travels:

Seeing yourself as part of a rich and complex world

Learning to step back and view myself, as others would view me, took practice. It’s so easy to get caught up in my own little world or bubble, but when I remind myself that I share this world I live within, I begin looking outward; paying attention to people and details.

In doing so I have learned to open myself to new experiences; discovering new cultures and traditions, but also discovering more about myself as a human being, and how I want to interact with those around me.

Pack light, keep things simple

manifesto-pack light
I travel light, gone are the days of hauling a backpack that almost knocks me over every time I put it on. In the beginning, when I was 23, my backpack was filled with things I would never need or use. A coveted pair of fashion boots, which I ended up leaving behind at a hostel in the Scottish Highlands, clothing I never wear.

In recent months I’ve made the switch from a 55L backpack to a 32L backpack which I can carry onto a plane. It was a bold move, but there are few things I enjoy more than walking past a packed check-in counter, straight through security and onto the boarding gate.

Interactions over transactions

Travel, for me, is not only about exploring the world around me, but learning about the people I meet along the way; it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. Hard days happen, everyone has them, but I’ve learned to look for the humor in weird situations.

I find that being courteous and patient can sometimes turn awkward situations into cherished travel moments: women staring at my breast in amazement (they are insanely large compared to Asian breasts) stern men who beam from ear to ear when I take the time to smile and say hello in the local language. As with life at home, on the road the little gestures can sometimes be more impactful than the small ones.

Private transformation


To say that travel changes one’s life is subjective, we all have different goals, backgrounds, limitations, and abilities. For some the changes can be monumental, for others it can be as simple as finding peace with who you are as a person or learning to let go of the need to control every situation.

Mental and spiritual growth

It’s hard to travel and not gain an understanding of other religions and beliefs. You can be agnostic, but if you’re travelling in Thailand and visiting temples, you’re going to learn about Buddhism, and you may come to respect the belief systems, culture, and customs that come along with it. Does it mean you’ll suddenly start believing in God? No.

Learn the economic… context

manifesto- market

Cultures vary, not only per country, but also per community, and even per religion. There are so many ways to learn about local cultures: visiting temples and markets are two things I always visit when I travel, as this is the best way to learn about local culture. Places filled with tradition, customs, and commerce.

Making meaningful connections

I’ve grown as a traveler and as a person, I’ve learned the value of traveling slow and making connections; there is nothing like returning to a destination three years later and having local vendors not only recognize me, but welcome me with smiles and open arms.

These are the kind of connections I crave. I love that the little old lady who does my laundry in Chiang Mai always remembers me, and asks me where I’m going every time I pass her shop.

Slow down and enjoy an experience


I wasn’t always a laid back traveler, I was once part of the rat race. I thrived on stress, and I worked way too many hours. I still have a need to be on time, but it’s not nearly as bad as before. I can now sit back and enjoy the insane traffic in Bangkok; sure, it takes longer to get to my destination, but I’m in an air conditioned vehicle and it’s just me and the driver, no crowds! It’s a wonderful respite, and not expensive.

Share what you’ve learned with others

Travel is not always easy, and that’s why I love it so much. There is always a story to be found, a bad situation can sometimes be funny as hell later on, or a lesson on what not to do in the future. There is joy to be found in challenges. Stories and experiences last far longer than many souvenirs.