We Do Not Take Trips; Trips Take Us
“We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” ― John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America”
An online friend of mine commented on one of my posts the other day. He said, “I thought the trip would be one thing and it turned into something totally different. I actually spent all that time visiting family, including family members I hadn’t seen in 10 years. It was very healing.”
He had quit his job and was planning to do a similar trip to ours, going down the coast to Panama City. Instead, as he says, he ended up visiting family that he hadn’t seen in years and healed old scars in the process. This was similar to what happened to me when I stopped trying to control every aspect of my travel and let the trip unfold on its own.
I know some people are uncomfortable with the idea of “letting go.” They have folders filled with strict itineraries: dates, places, tickets, tours and people. They do not veer from the itinerary at all. Any changes result in nervous breakdowns, rising tempers and broken friendships.
I've found that it's better not to have an itinerary at all. All you need to do is come to a new place and let things happen as they will. Your trip will start to take you places without much input from you.
You might meet a long-lost friend and tag along to an island with amazing dance parties. You might meet a stranger who wants to hike to tall mountains, and while you never thought about doing that, you end up joining in on the heart-pumping, legs-churning hike.
You talk with someone in a hostel bar who tells you that you must go to some place you didn’t even know existed.
It doesn’t always turn out well, but it always turns out interesting. Sometimes, you hope for a trip to be extremely relaxing and de-stressing, but you end up dealing with some emotional drama you had been avoiding at home.
Sometimes, you hope that for an adrenaline-filled trip with many excursions and new people, and you end up at a beach with very few people, meditating and doing yoga daily, learning more about yourself in the process.
As you can see, if you are able to let go, travel can take you places you never knew you wanted to go. Travel is mobile and evolving. It is like a really good pair of jeans: It molds itself to fit the owner's needs, so much so that it becomes a second pair of skin.
The funny thing is that people who haven’t taken an evolving trip like this are often surprised when it changes into something unexpected.
They try to force it back onto the “correct” path. They will do anything to stay on course. Eventually, though, they realize that the trip is taking them to places better than what they planned back home. Hopefully, they will be able to let go and have the best time of their lives.
In most cases, your trip won't be what you planned. It will turn out to be something absolutely divine, but different. If you are open to this, you will learn more about yourself and the world than ever before.
If you stick to your original plan, you will likely miss out on a lifetime of learning the trip could have offered.
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