I once thought the best part of a vacation was being able to check out of reality for a while and leave my life behind. All of the needs, complaints, and negativity from people would be far away. When planning a vacation I usually feel that it’s an opportunity for seclusion. That somehow it would be just me and a beautiful place.
As much as I thought I wanted to escape from people, what I actually desired required people. My last vacation showed me how important people are. The ideas in my head of a once in a lifetime experience, a change of culture, food, routine and tradition would not magically appear before my eyes. These things come from people. You experience these things as a result of meeting and spending time with the people who inhabit a space.
A particular place is not the sole contributor to the “vacation experience”. Location is important but what the people do there is even more important. The amazing stories you can tell and stunning images you can capture with your camera only come from stepping out of your comfort zone and venturing into something new, something unknown.
In retrospect, several of my most memorable vacations where due to conversations I had and laughs I shared with native people. My conversations while on vacation lead to me having an understanding of what the people in that environment value, what they are striving for and what brings them joy. Pulling myself away from my everyday norms and engaging with people different from me allowed me to evaluate what things matter the most in life.
Yes, I often have moments of wanting to be secluded from people but I’ve realized that I just want to try something different. There is not only growth in experiencing other cultures but also an opportunity to realize how amazing your actual life is. It is easy to take what you have for granted when you are surrounded by it every day. That realization does not occur until you interact with others whose lives are different from yours. You gain perspective.
Instead of hiding, begin seeking. Seek not only new places but also new people. Stay open and optimistic. Step out of your comfort zone. Seek people who challenge your beliefs and question your culture.
Maybe there is a new level of happiness or a better way to eat. The only way to find out is by experiencing the people who do it.