The happy note is about to get a dash of tough love. Some things just need to be said.
Travel is important for the body and mind, but it will not magically solve your problems. If you've packed a bag, hoping to "run away" from feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, or dissatisfaction (God, I just know I'm going to receive an email from some therapist), please unpack your bag. NOW!
Travel has quite a few applications, many of which I've written about. It is not, however, an effective way to run from your problems. Using travel as an escape method is no different than using drugs as an escape method. Once the initial thrill wears off, you are the same person you were when you left home base.
While planning my trip, I made the mistake of assuming travel would turn me into a better person. I thought it would increase my motivation and artistic output, and maybe even get me fit. Thankfully, I quickly discovered that my assumption was a misnomer, that only I could change my habits. Turns out my globe-trotting expedition is exactly that: an expedition. It doesn't inherently fix any of my problems. However, it does make me better equipped to deal with them.
Choosing to hit the road has been a giant step in the right direction. It certainly helps propel me toward success, and achieving my goals. I'm proud to admit that in the last few months I've become more physically fit, more mentally resilient, and less likely to be bothered by, well...pretty much everything. Yes, travel has been a motivation for my self-improvement; however, any changes I go through during my journey are mine to be proud of.
I liken travel to good education. By exploring the world, you arm yourself with tools that can help you deal with various life scenarios, including bouts of unhappiness. You cannot run away from your brain; it is with you, even a million miles from home. Go on an adventure to have fun, learn stuff about yourself, and expand your horizons. Do not, however, treat it as an easy fix for anything. You have more power within you than travel will ever have!
Argentina has been added to the "Nationalities I've Met" page, bringing the total to 51!
First of all, if you read the post's title to the tune of a certain Cream song, "mission accomplished." If (most likely) you did not, then no harm done.
Admission, I don't travel just to eat good food. I travel to eat good different food. Sure, it would be very easy (and perhaps stereotypical) for me to eat Western food for all of my meals. Lots of travelers stick to foods they already know and love. They frequent hamburger and pizza joints, perhaps supplementing their diet with the occasional Pad Thai or Pho. It is no secret that there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands of successful American and European restaurants in Southeast Asia.
So what gives? Doesn't everyone want to eat Vietnamese food in Vietnam? Mostly "yes", but there is a caveat.
People tend to like what they are already accustomed to; I, for one, totally understand this mentality. There's a reason they call it "comfort food." Although it sounds easy to expand your palate, there is always a bit of a gamble when you try new food. Maybe it tastes bad. Maybe it will make you sick. Maybe the restaurant or food stall isn't sanitary. There have been many times I just wanted to buy a pizza, because I didn't feel like going through the effort of trying something new. Pizza is familiar to me, whereas some strange noodle dish may end up being "The Devil on a Plate."
Ok, so I've given some reasons for not stepping outside of your comfort zone. But isn't travel about doing just that? I recently wrote a post called Deconstructing Comfort, where I extolled the merits of expanding one's comfort zone. The more foods you try, the more things you will be open to eating. Since beginning my travel, I've eaten scorpion, cricket, frog, and ostrich. You know what? I would never have tried those foods in the United States. But I cannot lie, they were all pretty good! At this point, I'd probably not say no to dog meat (I think I just lost a few dozen readers), or many of the other funky things they eat in Vietnam.
If I can have the gall to solo backpack through Asia, I can sure as hell eat local dishes, even ones that I previously considered strange. Although I'm not running off to eat insects and "pet" animals every day, it is certainly an interesting experience doing so. Surprise, surprise, trying new food expands your palate. If you don't like something, you never have to eat it again. But if you do discover a new favorite dish, you will thank yourself forever!
Come on, crickets are on me tonight!
A celebration is in order. Today the name of this travel blog has been officially changed to The Traveling Tramp (www.travelingtramp.com). I'd like to personally thank: Andrea P, Future Vision, Jessica S, Kenneth H, Lisa B, Mike D, Nathan N, Ramon N, Ryan F, Ryan M, and Will W, for their generous contributions to my Kickstarter campaign. You have helped me accomplish one of my many dreams on the road, and for that I'm grateful. Expect the various tiered rewards to be issued soon!
Why did I choose the name The Traveling Tramp? Well, it's mostly because of my love for Charlie Chaplin. He often played the lovable tramp who, while homeless, always finds a way to amuse himself. I like to think of myself, too, as this "tramp": someone who wanders the Earth for the joy such an undertaking brings. While not exactly homeless, I am living on a low budget. Hence, I could never call the blog Living Luxuriously ! The final (real) reason, is that it's an easy URL to remember, and wasn't taken when I did a search on Godaddy.com. Now that I've dropped the .weebly extension, it will be simpler to visit and share the website.
The website re-haul is far from over. Expect some new site logos/graphics soon, crafted by wonderful friends of mine. You can also "like" me over at the new Facebook page: Facebook.com/TravelingTramp.
Looking forward, there will be so much more to write about. I recently met people from 50 different countries (see the post below this one), and that's only the beginning! I also have much of Vietnam left to explore, and will be traveling to (at the minimum) Singapore and India. Don't be surprised if countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and Jordan make it in as well! Only time will tell.
So raise your Chang, Beer Lao, PBR, or whatever. Here's to many more months of content!
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write movies and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.