April 23, 2012

Awaken Your Inner Vagabond. ~ Lindsay Friedman

Tioman, Malaysia

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert

Traveling is one of the most freeing, awe inspiring, eye opening and enjoyable experiences anyone could possibly dream of. Once we leave our city, state, or country, and charter unfamiliar territory, we discover the beauty of the unknown. We discover ourselves through other people, cultures and natural environments. And we reciprocate this by teaching others about ourselves and opening them to other ways of understanding themselves and the world.

Traveling is a beautiful thing that everyone should experience.

To travel does not mean one must move to Peru or the Philippines for invaluable life experiences. It is about being open to new experiences. If you can’t travel the world, go on a camping trip an hour away from your home or drive to the city for the day. Traveling is what you make it––it is a mindset.

Saigon, Vietnam

The sad thing is, I hear too often that people do not have the time or funds or that they are uncomfortable with the unknown and unplanned life. And what I want them to know is that you make your own destiny––you can make traveling fit into your schedule or lifestyle.

We make so many excuses in our lives because we are scared to give somehting new a try or because we don’t want to spend the time planning, saving or leaving. We need to stop making excuses and live life to the fullest. Yes, we may spend more money than we had planned on a vacation, but those memories, life experiences and personal obstacles and invaluable.

“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

Last year I lived and worked in Khon Kaen, Thailand in the Northeast near Laos. I chose Thailand because I wanted to experience something totally new and challenge myself to being comfortable with the uncertain.

Initially, it was extremely challenging because I could not yet speak Thai and the culture was vastly different from my own, but then I learned to embraced the challenges. I embraced that life is sometimes more worthwhile unplanned. I embraced that I don’t always have to plan two steps ahead or be in total control.

When traveling, there is no goal, except to live in the present, day by day.

I do know that traveling may not be for everyone. I do know that traveling can be scary, but what is more scary is that people are not willing to challenge themselves––that they are comfortable doing the same thing everyday.

If it is not for you, I hope this article has inspired you to consider changing that. If you feel that you do not have enough money or no time off of work, that is not the case. You can always save, and make time in the future.

I want to take on an internship that involves community development in agricultural communities. I chose a program in Salvador, Brazil. I can do this type of work in Boulder, but because I love to travel, I am taking my work abroad. So now I will work everyday and make it happen next year. I have saved about $2,000 on my own over the last year and despite living on a budget, I know that I can do it, and so can you.

Awaken your inner vagabond with these tips:

Khon Kaen, Thailand

1. Be open to the possibilities of traveling. Do some research online, travel books and by talking to people. It is a mindset. If you want to travel it will happen, you just need to make it happen. Look for apprenticeships, study abroad programs, internships, couch surfing, au-pair programs or write a grant to research something abroad.

2. Start saving. Depending on where you would like to go, after you research, determine how comfortable you are living on a certain budget and make that your personal goal. Instead of buying that coffee before work, take that cash out of your wallet and put it away. Make the coffee at home, which will be cheaper, and more environmentally friendly. Wow, killing three birds with one stone. I even have an huge Carlo Rossi wine jug that I have put all of my coins in since 2009. I know I must have a couple hundred dollars in there. Or if you have ones in your wallet at the end of the day, take those out and set them aside. It doesn’t look like much, but will add up in the end when you need it.

3. Plan. Yes, I know I said the unplanned is the way to go, but you do need to plan how you will get there, and if you work, how you will take the time off. Once you are there, then stop planning and live. That is when the magic of life comes alive.

4. Just Go. There is no time like the present.

5. Journal. There is nothing more happilly chilling than documenting your experiences and reading them later. You will learn a lot about yourself, the world and how you incorporate your experiences into your “normal” life.

6. Take your experiences with you, everywhere. When you return home or travel somewhere new, live like you did when you were happily somewhere else. Take those worldly experiences into your dialogues and work ethic. Practice living simply. Always take on challenges and expect more from yourself.

7. Never stop traveling, living, experiencing and challenging yourself. 

Inspirational travel quotes.

“He who is outside his door already has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” — Dutch proverb

“The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” — Bill Bryson

“Home is where the heart is, and my heart is wherever I am at the moment.” — Lily Leung

“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” — Pico Iyer


Lindsay Friedman is a senior studying environmental science and sustainable development at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is an intern at elephant journal and has a part time job at The Fitter. She is also a leader of a local food campaign on campus called CU Going Local. She is a true Chicagoan turned mountain girl. Follow her on twitter: Laine0315.

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