All posts by Tim

7 Ways to Feel Free While Travelling

1. Have unscheduled days.

Waking up to an alarm and/or having to be somewhere at a certain time is so unrelaxing. My favorite thing is when my Google calendar alerts land in my inbox and say “you have no events scheduled today.” Bliss!

2. Embrace last minute plans.

Sites like Priceline allow you to find great deals on hotels and flights at the very last minute, including the day of travel in many cases. There is often no need to book ahead to get a good deal. You may even get a better deal by waiting.

3. Buy flexible tickets.

For example, Southwest Airlines allow you to date change tickets at no additional cost (unless there is a fare difference). By buying flexible tickets or making flexible bookings you may or may not pay a little extra but you build in flexibility.

Flights are the hardest tickets to get on a flexible basis without paying a lot more but hotel and rental car reservations are usually similarly priced regardless of whether you prepay or book option you can cancel. For rental car reservations, you often don’t even need to provide a credit card to make a reservation, so that’s an easy thing to keep flexible.

4. Budget high enough for your destination.

It’s a lot easier to feel free if you’re not sticking to a super tight daily budget. I’ve never really budgeted for travel since I’m naturally frugal. I know my minimum comfort level and stick to that with a few good value splurges from time to time. Have some money in your budget for spontaneous splurges, like the odd late night cab, nice sit down meal, or expensive theatre ticket.

Sometimes people travelling long term can grind to halt and find themselves doing nothing and not leaving their room all day. This can happen when people become stressed about their budget or are sick of sticking to only free and cheap activities.

5. Mix and match your travel style.

The more you mix and match your travel style, the more you’ll learn to be comfortable in any travel environment from hostels to 4 and 5 star hotels. Freedom is feeling like you can strike up a conversation with people from all sorts of walks of life and feeling like you can be yourself in a variety of different environments.

6. Give yourself the gift of permission to change plans.

Sometimes people fall into the trap of making plans and then feeling like a failure if they don’t stick to them. It’s hard to predict exactly what places you’re going to fall in love with and what you might be disappointed with. Therefore you need to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to change plans. If you find somewhere you love, don’t leave because you think you “should” or “have to.” In my experience, there aren’t that many places in the world that feel energetically “just right” for each particular person. Therefore when you find somewhere that seems like the perfect match for you, linger as long as feels good. You never know when your next chance to do that will be.

Photo: Central Park, New York City.

Ways to keep your mind sharp while travelling

Travel that is just about relaxation is all very well and good but after a few months you might start feeling a sense of brain rot. You need some mental stimulation. Here are some ways to get it.

1. Take on a personal project during a long trip.

For example, you might choose to do a project of writing a novel in 30 days. Extended travel is a great time to do a project like this. Some people do an extended sabbatical so they can work on launching a business. This is another option but it’s hard to actively travel when doing this. For this option, you’re better off finding a base where you feel inspired and holing it.

If you want to learn a skill while travelling, you could always learn programming, or surfing, or guitar, or anything you want.

2. Go to local events.

For example, you could go to a local hackathon. These aren’t just for programmers. Artists can contribute, as can people with sales and marketing or other business skills.

Big cities often have lots of inspiring talks you can go to.

3. Consume “brain food” entertainment.

If you’re not in a city, you might need to get your brain food from the internet rather than in person events. There are loads of places to watch inspiring and educational talks online. Youtube has lots of talks by authors, like the Authors@Google series, which is when authors go and speak at one of the Google campuses. TED talks are great, and Itunes U allows you to take full college courses for free from the privacy of your own laptop.

4. Language classes.

Language classes are of course an obvious option for giving your brain a great workout while travelling. You can do formal classes, use apps
( Duolingo is great and it’s free 🙂 ), or do language exchange. Of course getting out and challenging yourself to talk to people and attempt conversation is better than anything else you could do!

5. Keep up your professional development.

If you have a career that requires ongoing professional development, then why not continue doing that on the road rather than letting the requirements build up to the point you have a daunting prospect ahead of you when you get home. You might choose to branch out and explore an area of interest that you haven’t had time to deep dive into while you’ve been working your 9 to 5.

Google Scholar is excellent for keeping up with journal articles in your field and most articles seem to now be available as pdfs these days, without having to pay the typical very high fees for subscribing to a journal. Google Scholar will help you find the free pdf links. I could spend hours getting lost down the rabbit hole of Google Scholar!

6. Attend conferences.

Attending conferences is a great way to stay connected to your career. Especially when planning visits to big cities, check around for any big conferences in your field and see if any are going to serendipitously collide with your travel plans.

7. Get ripped.

Yes, of course getting physically fitter will help you keep your mind sharp too!

Photo Credit: Anne Adrian under Creative Commons license

Keeping a Sense of Freedom When You’re Travelling with Someone

Freedom travel isn’t about always travelling solo. If you always “have to” to be alone to feel free that doesn’t seem much like freedom to me. Here are some tips for feeling free, when you’re sharing travel planning and activities with others.

1. Get cell phones.

It’s much easier to not worry about losing each other etc if you have an easy method of communication. Don’t skimp on cell phones or you’ll find yourself super stressed about losing each other and not being able to get back in touch. Being able to easily txt back and forth makes all the difference in you feeling like it doesn’t matter if one of you inadvertently wanders off, or if you each want to do your own thing for a while .

2. Know the signs you’re getting on each other’s nerves and need some alone time.

Alone time can be as simple as heading to a gallery but wandering around separately and agreeing to meet up in an hour. When you meet up again, why not plan to take each other on a tour of your favorite things that you found.

3. Bring other people into the mix.

It’s easy to get sick of one person if you’re travelling together and not spending time with other people. Hanging out with more people can change the dynamic between the two of you, even if you’re still hanging out together.

Try not to hang out with others in a way that makes your travel companion feel like a third wheel or left out. For example, if they’re not big into drinking then don’t go on drunken benders and expect them to be cool with that. Always be respectful of the other person and their comfort. Travelling somewhere unfamiliar induces vulnerability in us and it’s always important to remember this and take care of whoever we’re travelling with, even if we are getting on each other’s nerves.

4. Be open.

Be open to trying things your travelling companion suggests, even if they’re not what you would’ve picked. Virtually the worst type of travelling companion is someone who doesn’t express any of their own preferences and is just negative about the things you suggest. When someone else is coming up with ideas that is a good thing.

5. Pick your travelling companion carefully.

From the outset, try and pick a companion with the same level of travel experience as you, who will be comfortable with you splitting up and doing your own thing from time to time. If less experienced people want to travel with you, that’s cool, but expect you’ll be doing a bit of tour guiding. Your first trip with a novice travelling companion should be for only a few days rather than a long trip.

6. Travel with people for some of the trip rather than the whole time.

Travelling for a few days with folks you meet while travelling can be a lot more fun than travelling with someone from home for the entire trip. It also gives you a ton of flexibility, and can lead to you checking out things you normally wouldn’t. You’re also less likely to get grumpy and impatient with someone you don’t know well than with someone you’re very close to.

Photo: Central Californian Coast