Travel Light

Quote by Cesare Pavese. Image created by me using Adobe Illustrator.
Quote by Cesare Pavese. Image created by me using Adobe Illustrator.

Consider this post a friendly reminder to let go of the things that don’t matter.

But this is a task that’s undoubtedly easier said than done. I know I sometimes get so wrapped up in the emotions surrounding a trip that I can lose sight of why I’m going in the first place. I forget the excitement and the wonder and instead focus on the stress: the stress of packing right without overpacking, the stress of making it to the planes or trains I need to catch, the stress of balancing expenses to last me through the trip, the stress of seeing all the people I promised I’d make the time to see; in addition to the places I wanted to venture off to alone.

I think it all goes back to my tendency to overthink things…

Which is why this quote hit me so hard last week when I first read it. It still hasn’t left me quite yet. And I hope you consider what traveling light really means to you, too.

For me, it feels like this quote by Italian poet Cesare Pavese was originally intended to apply to day-to-day emotions we need to let go of in order to move forward in life.

Jealous of that coworker who seems to truly have it all? Holding a grudge against the guy who didn’t call you back? More concerned about getting your afternoon nap in than helping your friend with that favor they asked? Or maybe on some level, just all-around deeply terrified you’re going to fail pursuing your goals if you were to ever actually try?


Take a deep breath.

Let it out.

Do it again.

Now think about what (or who) is weighing on your mind. If it’s keeping you down or holding you back, it’s probably time to let go.

Step 1: Let go of envies and jealousies.

Can you objectively look at why that coworker seems to have it all? Do they have a talent or way of approaching their work that you can learn from? Or can you take them out to coffee, get to know them better and realize they’re — (just banking on the odds, here) human — and that they, too, have problems that might not have been so obvious? Can you make a new friend and turn that jealousy and envy into support and productivity?

Step 2: Stop holding on to unforgiveness.

If that guy didn’t call you back, do you really want him to now? If he’s so easily willing to cast you aside why shouldn’t you be willing to do the same in your mind? There are actually simple solutions sometimes, and this is one of those instances. Move on. Spend time with new people. Holding a grudge against him won’t make him suddenly realize what he lost — but it will make you lose out on other things in the process.

Step 3: Get rid of selfishness.

If you’d rather nap than do your friend a favor, you need to ask yourself two questions. Is this person really my friend? And if they are, Why am I being selfish? And even if they aren’t your friend, Should I help them anyway? We’ve all heard the age-old adage “What goes around comes around.” And though I wish this were always true, the reality is that it’s not. Life is not a children’s fiction novel where all of the heroes come to good ends and the villains come to bad ends. Some people who are selfish and greedy and self-involved might not ever have to deal with the repercussions of their actions. So here is where you make a decision about the person you want to be. Do you want to be selfish? No? Great! Now grab a cup of coffee and go help your friend.

Step 4: Overcome your fears.

Perhaps the hardest step of them all; fear can cripple you, removing any hope of ever moving forward in life. Thus, the question you have to ask yourself is: How bad do you want it? You have to decide for yourself how much work you’re willing to put into it. You have to decide you want to save that extra $50 for your dream trip than go out with your friends this weekend. You have to decide to devote the time to improving your photography and editing skills, decide to work out regularly in order to lose that extra weight, decide to put all efforts into getting that next promotion at your job. Whatever it is, you have to decide you want it. And then you have to decide you want it again and again and again, every day you wake up, until you have it. It’s not just going to fall in your lap because you’re willing it to — you have to decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.

Step 5: Move forward.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but if you can do these things, you will move forward. It might not be exactly what you envisioned, but you will find yourself in a better place. Whether that’s literally somewhere else in the world or just confined to the spaces within your sanity is up to you.

Just remember to travel light when you go.

What Happens When You See the Moon Shine on the Other Side of the World

I try each day to find beauty, to learn something new, or discover new ways to keep going, to keep being inspired. In doing this, I’ve realized that sharing my inspiration is just as important as going out to seek it.

So whether anyone is actually paying attention or not, I’m going to start sharing my findings with you. My goal, my hope, is to share a little daily inspiration – I hope to both inspire and be inspired, as I mention in my brief bio on the About page.

So here we go. Day 1.

Quote by Mary Anne Radmacher. Image created using Adobe Illustrator.
Quote by Mary Anne Radmacher. Image created by me using Adobe Illustrator.

It’s something I won’t ever be able to forget. The moment I was changed permanently, the moment my view of the world and the people in it shifted. Everything was the same, but somehow different. I realized that everyone and everything around me was worth seeing, worth documenting. Traveling literally takes you to another place, but what people don’t talk about is how it takes you to new places figuratively, too.

Seeing a new style of architecture, experiencing a foreign culture, communicating with people who don’t speak the same language – it’s all doing more to you than just giving you more stories to tell and beautiful photos to share. It’s connecting you to new ways of thought and living, providing you with a new perspective on life or love or even something as simple as what good coffee is to you. It allows everyone the opportunity to peer out to the world with fresh eyes, taking in more than just what you literally see in front of you.

It will change you. It will grow you. It will force you to look at yourself and the world and come to terms with what you think about both. And you will be better for it.

But it can’t happen if you don’t go.

Worst-Case Scenario

finger point to europe.jpg

It’s not an overstatement to say that, to date, the summer of 2013 was the best summer of my life.

In mid-May I crammed my backpack and got on a plane to Croatia, knowing that I wouldn’t step foot back on American soil until mid-June. In that span of time, I would get to know the kind and genuine disposition that every Croatian I came across seemed to possess. I would see the modern day world and historic ruins come together in Budapest, Hungary. I would discover gruff appearances aren’t always what they seem at a closet-sized bar in Bratislava, Slovakia. I would even wake up to the smell and sounds of a daily 6am market in Prague, Czech Republic. And all of that would only be the first two weeks.

From there, I would continue on to many towns and cities throughout Austria, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany before eventually returning home. And I’m not skipping over the details – I’ll get to those in time. I’m just pausing to take a comprehensive look at it all for a moment.

Before my trip, I had about a thousand reasons to be excited and eager for it all to get started. I knew the trip would be like nothing I had ever experienced before, and for some time after my plane first took off to take me overseas I felt liberated. But if I’m completely forthright about how I felt, I have to admit I was honestly a bit of an internal mess. I was worried about spending money, worried about hostels, worried about getting on the right trains, worried about getting lost without a map, worried about theft, worried about making one backpack of clothes last a month. The reasons I thought I had to be worried seemed endless.

Then I came across a quote right before I left for my European escapade, and it couldn’t have shown itself to me at a better time. It read,

own little see the world.jpg

“I would rather own little and see the world, than own the world and see little of it.” My internal concerns had been at an all-time high when I read that. But for some reason, the words put me at ease.

Yes, spending money would be tight after converting from the dollar to the euro, but I’d make it work. Yes, some hostels could potentially be gross and crowded, but I’d put in earplugs and get through it. And yes, trains might be confusing, I might get lost, someone might steal my headphones when I fall asleep, and yes at the end of the month all of my clothes might stink – but really, how bad would all of that be?

I became acutely aware how right on the money the “First World Problems” jokes were. I was traveling with two other people while in Europe, and learning to poke fun at ourselves was sometimes the best thing to do.

“You mean worst-case scenario we skip eating lunch so we can eat wherever we want for dinner? How horrible.”

“So worst-case scenario we miss our train and have to spend an extra night in Budapest? How awful.”

“Wait, worst-case scenario we get into Rome an hour late because we got on a local line instead of an express? Poor, poor, us.”

I really don’t think worst-case scenarios get any better than that.

Despite anything bad or inconvenient that could happen – and trust me, some things absolutely would go wrong – I was still experiencing parts of the world that some people will go their entire lives without ever even getting the chance to see. And at the end of it all, if the stench from my clothes made people around me uncomfortable, if I was completely broke, and all I had to my name was a rich plethora of stories and encounters, it would be worth it.

Which, by the way, it was.