Traveling Now

Traveling Now

The life of a full-time traveler differs greatly from “real life” for many reasons, but most of all because your focus is on the moment, not the end goal.  There are no long term plans, there is nowhere you need to be or something you need to do “right now”.  The world is more alive because your job is taking it in, your job is experiencing the journey, not necessarily the destination.

While many may see focusing on the now as shortsighted or detrimental to success, I challenge them with the question, “How much better would your future be if you were focused on the now?”  I believe we can do better work and live happier lives if we took care of what we needed now instead of daydreaming or worrying about the future.

We do need to set goals to achieve, but too often we burdened by checking off lists and driving towards that goal to gain the insights along the way.  Enjoying the journey as much as getting to the destination allows us to adapt our goals to create a better destination than you presumed when you started.  You can only adapt if you are willing to change your goal, and adapting is a crucial life skill.  Situations change, people leave, the “impossible” happens, but if you are taking time to enjoy the journey as much as the destination you will be able to adapt to changing environments.

Full-time travel is an internship in adapting and changing your goals.  The excitement of travel is being able to stop and see the beauty all around, not just checking off list of places to see.  It often challenges preconceived notions, and teaches us to live in the now.

Adapting on the fly: in a small noodle store I ordered by pointing to a person's bowl and was surprised by the results. This was sweet pho with chicken, not what I was expecting.

The other day we had a great lesson.  We bought tickets from Ho Chi Minh City to Vinh Long and watched carefully for our stop, roughly 3 hours away.  The bus had a destination further away and experience taught us to be prepared to get off quickly when you got to your stop or the bus would move on.  Further complicating the situation was that we couldn’t really communicate with the people on the bus.  When we reached the bus station at Vinh Long we tried to get off, but the bus driver and attendant waved no, said something to each other and motioned us back to our seats.  We assumed there was another, more central bus station in the city.

After about 30 minutes we noticed the city had turned to field again, we had left Vinh Long.  We decided that the bus driver had unilaterally determined we didn’t actually want to go to Vinh Long.  We had, but at this point we were along for the ride.  We rode the bus to the end of the line, about an hour further and got off with everyone else.  Through luck we managed to get a shuttle to the tourist district and found this to be an incredibly nice city.  Our hotel is fabulous.  The bus driver was right and the access to what we wanted to see, the Mekong Delta, is probably better here.

At home I would have been incredibly upset if a bus driver wouldn’t let me off when I wanted.  I would have been set on my destination, my end, not willing to accept an alternative.  Additionally I would have been suspicious of the driver’s intention.  In life as a traveler we laughed and said, “I guess we’re not going there.”  While being a full-time traveler is not what many would consider “real life”, this lesson is directly applicable: sometimes you need to trust others and adapt to the changing circumstance.

To succeed in life, from business, to science, even to parenting, I believe we need to adapt to fluid situations, change on the fly, and be willing to accept alternatives.  The only way to do that is living in the now, not being blinded by seeking an end, and learning along the way.

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Comments

» Donna :
Jan 6, 2011

Amen Matt! I got on the wrong car in a Swiss train and ended up in Brig, jumping off town for Zermatt. Another train was leaving in an hour, so decided to tromp around town a bit, and in so doing, realized I wasn’t on a schedule and it was a cool town … why not stay overnight? Got a hotel room, went back to the station for my bag and stayed overnight. The next morning I was treated to the most spectacular ride through the Alps with the sun shining on the mountains and me being very happy to have lived in the moment! Enjoying your escapades thoroughly! Donna

» Tim Morrison :
Jan 7, 2011

I really appreciated your last paragraph about adapting to fluid situations. The traveling I’ve done to date so far has taught me to be flexible. It’s only been a positive thing as far as I’m concerned.

thinkCHUA Reply:

It’s bringing these lessons back to real life that is the hard part, but if you can I believe you will be a better person.

» dad :
Jan 7, 2011

your much too young to be so insightful…..i am continually amazed at the positive/mature impact Erica has had on you in such a short time……sounds like you have read Eckhart Tolle’s, “Power of Now”……me thinks, one could/can only survive your journey with flexibility and minimal expectations….Hakuna Matada….be safe….love ya…bka

thinkCHUA Reply:

Maybe I’m an old soul. I once had my akashic record read and they said, “I’ve never seen this before, you’re and old soul and made many mistakes. This will be the life you figure it out and move on.” Maybe LOCAVORista is the answer.

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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