Zen travel can be summoned up in three words: Keep it simple and engage in some of the Zen Things that can make this a better world. Volunteer, do a home-stay with a local family, smile a lot, get involved in their history and culture and set an example of Zen Travel by being a Zen Diplomat.
If I could some up one thing about travel that will save you time and money it would be to Travel Light! Have you ever been in the line at the airport and actually witnessed the amount of stuff the average traveler has. Unless you are a professional golfer or play the bass horn in the international symphony there is absolutely no reason to lug all of that stuff with you.
Travel should be a fun experience not an exercise in seeing how much weight you can manage as you trek through the jungle on an elephant, ride a jungle river boat, hop on a bus or subway or walk the streets looking for lodging. My friend Raymond who I met on a backpacking trek in Venezuela travels with the maximum size metal suitcase with wheels which is too large to fit in the luggage department on a bus and requires an extra seat…they should charge him for the extra seat or make him manhandle the metal suitcase on his lap as the bus rolls over potholed terrain.
ZENTRAVELERS TRAVEL LIST:
1. PACK LIGHT Pack a small sturdy backpack with one set of shorts, one pair of jeans, light sweater, rain poncho, two t-shirts, two sets of underwear, one pair of socks, one swimsuit. Small bottle of shampoo, toothbrush and tooth paste,travel camera, cell phone with alarm and flashlight, plastic whistle, small notebook and personal cards with your name and contact information to give to interesting fellow travelers.
2. RESEARCH A BRIEF TRAVEL OUTLINE Spend some time on the internet and print out a travel outline showing points of interest, accommodations, and noteworthy travel advice. The key to Zen Travel is not to have a travel agenda but to go with the flow.
3. ASK THE LOCALS AND FELLOW BACKPACKERS FOR TRAVEL TIPS This is key… so many times we are our own worst enemies since we fail to ask the locals and rely on Lonely Planet or what some blogger wrote. We stayed at a local pension house and asked the clerk what would be a good day trip. She pointed out just follow the path and it will take you to an amazing waterfall where you can swim take photos have lunch and relax. Was not in any of the travel books.
4. IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE LOCAL Culture This is not so easy to do, but if you follow the flow you might experience street art, fire dancing, local music, street food and most of all people watching. Visit some art galleries, museums and learn about their history. Ask a local to cook you their special dinner with you paying the tab of course. I experienced this in Belize going from town to town eating with the locals and experiencing great food and new friends.
5. TRAVEL OFF THE BEATEN PATH Don’t fall for the same tourist traps designed to lighten your pockebook plus throw you in the mix of other tourists just like you. Strive to be different, engage on a working farm, plant some trees learn about being green and reduce your carbon footprint. If you get off the beaten path you might run into the well educated BIG FOOT…and have an engaging discourse about the origin of man.
6. WALK A LOT If we continue with the sedentary lifestyle we will soon have to carried from travel spot to travel spot. Seriously just by walking you can see so much more…and see things you could never in-vision, plus walking is the best exercise for your cardiovascular.
7. EAT WHERE AND WHAT THE LOCALS EAT This is a no-brainer don’t fly to Paris, France and order a cheeseburger and fries. Learn to appreciate what the street vendors can cook for you. You will be in for a treat plus you won’t break the bank. Always ask what do you recommend and be ready for a culinary surprise.
8. DON’T BE A TRAVEL JUNKIE BY TRYING TO DO AND SEE EVERYTHING. This is the major mistake many travelers make when they go on vacation. They try to see and do everything as if their life depended on it…causing a greater degree of stress as if stress was the wanted result.
9. TAKE TIME TO RELAX Isn’t our normal life stressful enough trying to keep up on technical devices, monetary changes, wars and crazy governments. This is your time and give yourself permission to relax. If you like you can call it a zen thing and let the world zoom by.
10. BE IN THE NOW Ok I challenge you to be in the now. Its possible and why not train your self and mind to be in the now and receive its many benefits. Discourses have been written on how to be in the now. For now…just make it a zen thing and be in the now.
So there you have it! Make your travel a fun and relaxing experience by involving yourself in the local culture. Take a one week language course, take a cooking course, sit by the river and watch the world go by. Shed pounds of stress by learning to smell the roses and most of all don’t be an internet junkie. You don’t have an obligation to Facebook, twitter etc. You have only one obligation and that is be the master of your travels and your life.
QUOTE: ‘A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.’ – Laozi
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: Travel is much like art; it makes you think, it makes you uncomfortable at times, often it can cement your beliefs, sometimes it challenges your entire world. Whatever the outcome – it’s done its job because epiphany or minute alteration… you’ve changed since you traveled.
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Money…comes in handy
ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Travel light, travel often and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.
From here to Infinity and Beyond is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on. Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free.