I hate travelling. Okay, I dislike the process of getting to where I need to go. If I could teleport from one place to another, then travelling would be at the top of my Things I Love to Do list. Currently, it’s #1 on my Things I Have to Do list.
Still, arriving to my next destination is one of my greatest pleasures. Seeing a new place, experiencing a different culture, and through it exploring myself–this is my joy in travelling.
And luckily, my parents provided me with my first lessons in seeking a world beyond my own…and being comfortable no matter what.
The PELES Approach
Pele (s): noun, a small fortified tower for residence or for use during an attack, common in the border counties of England and Scotland in the 16th century.
Here are 5 tips to fortifying yourself while travelling, avoiding homesickness, embracing new realities, and becoming a better nomad:
- Prepare – Before you purchase that ticket to wherever, research your destination. Watch videos, talk to people who have been there before, read books, and buy a map or use Google Maps to actually see the place where you would like to be. If the local language is something different from your own, then take an in-person or online course, or check out your local library or bookstore for books/CDs.
- Explore – What are your expectations of this new destination? Do you have any stereotypes about the culture and its people? What would you do if things don’t go as expected? Trust me, this is one of the most important things you can do. We don’t always realise it, but our fantasies and biases about a place and its people can make or break our travel experience. You cannot imagine thenumber of times I’ve heard people say “This isn’t what I expected.”
- Find out what you expect, and then chuck those expectations off to the side…and recognise that you won’t really know until you get there.
- (Be) Light – Emotionally. Travelling meansadditional stress. Travelling to a new place…well, let’s just say it’s the straw that can break the camel’s back. Over the years, I’veencountered many people who decided to “travel to get away from it all.” Here’s the deal: you are who you are no matter where you are. Your problems don’t just disappear the moment you step on a plan. Heck, I’d say your problems can become overwhelmingly clear instead. Are you ready for that?
- Exclude – Anything unnecessary, whether thing or person. There is nothingquite like travelling with a couple of suitcases, a carry-on, and a purse and arriving at your destination only to find out that there is a problem with transportation, e.g. no taxis available and public transportation strike–It can happen.
- Do your best to pack lightly because chances are you will be 1) tired when you arrive, and 2) purchase things to take back home.
- In terms of people, be aware that there may be some people who may be against your travel or have some (unwarranted) worries about the people or the culture. Work on turning the volume down on your ears or, better still, avoid them.
- (Be) Sensible – In every possible way. There are many people who suspend reality when they go travelling. They do things that they would never do if they were at home. It’s the manifestation of that popular What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas slogan that creeps me outevery time I hear it. I suggest the following:
- Plan to arrive in the morning or by early afternoon if possible.
- Arrange your accommodations beforehand and know how you will get around once you’re there.
- Take the advice of other travellers who have been and any public notifications, e.g. in Rome, there are tons of signs about taking authorized white taxis with the city emblem.
- Return to your accommodations by the late evening/early night (if possible) for the first night. Trust me, I’ve yet to find a city where anything good happens after 11PM.
- Know how to connect with your family and friends once your there and maintain contact. Make a plan with family members for a specific time you will be in contact every day or however often you decide.
I called this the PELES Approach because I believe that being a nomad means carrying a fortified “home” with you, one that provides a solid method of inner and outer retreat should your new environment turn against you (whether literally or figuratively).
Until Next Time,