You aren’t reading this post because you are looking for the fanciest cruise line or the best tour company. You want your travel to be special and unique. You don’t want average. You don’t want to go with the herd and so you didn’t choose the 10 day all expenses paid tour with a new city every night. You decided to spend enough time in one place to learn its rhythms and idiosyncrasies. But don’t stop there. Get off the beaten path. Go where the tourists aren’t.
Outrageous travel is an attitude adjustment. It changes you from passive observer to active adventurer. When is the last time you took a chance? Picked the road less traveled? Chose the action where the outcome was unknown? If you can’t remember, then you haven’t been living life to the fullest. One of the reasons for spending one month in a place is to get yourself out of a rut.
Many decisions in life are driven by a scarcity mentality; People avoid making risky decisions because they can’t afford to take a loss. If you travel on a tight schedule, you can’t afford to waste time and so you pick the sure things- the guided tours, the ‘best’ attractions, the ‘top rated’ events. You follow the herd. As a result you get ‘programmed’ into the crowd of ordinary tourists doing ordinary things and see more of the back of the tourist ahead of you in line than the place you are visiting. You see the same things that everybody else sees. Your pictures look like everybody else’s pictures. Your memories of your ‘once in a lifetime’ trip consist of standing in line. It doesn’t have to be that way.
A month long outrageous travel experience gives you other options. Certainly you want to see the famous attractions which will inevitably mean crowds and lines. But there is more you can do. You can take chances. You can check out some of the not-so-obvious attractions, go where the crowds aren’t and where the natives are. You can experience what regular life is like in Rome or Buenos Aires. When you approach travel as a lifestyle choice instead of a schedule of events, each moment is an adventure. You don’t know the results. You can’t predict what the day will bring.
It is a sad thing that this lesson is necessary but getting older makes it harder to embrace uncertainty. Life, the accumulation of relationships, assets and experience encourages caution. Young people have little to lose and time to recover. As people age, each year adds something more to protect and reduces the recovery time for loss. It is natural for people to increasingly avoid risk until it becomes a principle. But much is lost as well. Taking the safe path lowers risk but limits adventure, personal growth and joi d’vivre. This could be the beginning of a treatise on life but we will focus on travel for now. On your travel, playing safe minimizes risks but until you look at the balance between risk and reward, you won’t know that playing safe is the best course.
There is a lesson for life from finance. Financial analysts don’t avoid or embrace risk. they manage it. Portfolio analysis manages risk by combining high and low risk investments to maintain a comfortable overall risk level while maximizing income. This is important because low risk investments almost always provide lower income. The highest income results from using high risk instruments. A financial analyst’s job is to select the proper portfolio of low and high risk investments to provide the highest income. It is the same with life.
So on your outrageous travel month in Rome or wherever you decide to go, manage that risk. Take some chances on your schedule. Look for the minor attractions because they are often better and more accessible than the tourist must see list. Do what the locals do. Ride the bus or subway. Check out the markets. Get lost. Sit in a sidewalk café and let the world go past. Don’t worry about wasting your time because an adventure is never wasted time. At worst, your experience will make a great story once you get back home.