Travel. Widen your world and mind.

Having a home-made whiskey with a local in his home in northern Laos

I don’t like all-inclusive vacations or tours that take you from point A to B in a frenzied compression of time to complete predetermined itineraries. I don’t like “bucket lists” of destinations to be ticked off like a bingo card. For me traveling is stepping outside of the comfort bubble, and filling my bucket with mind-expanding life experiences. Here are some of the lessons I learned having visited almost 110 countries in the world.

Istanbul (Turkey) loves cats so much it’s referred to as Catstambul. Hundreds of thousands of cats roam the city which is lined with food and water bowls in a joint effort to look after the street cats.

Travel light. It allows for flexibility which will come in handy if you decide to take a side trip, especially on public transportation. Most importantly, dump all mental baggage you may have. Stereotypes and preconceived ideas about places, people, and their customs will cloud your ability to immerse yourself in the unknown.

It’s important to experience local traditions like witnessing the art of hunting with trained golden eagles at the Kazakh Eagle Festival in western Mongolia.

Avoid whirlwinds and punishing schedules of “must-see tourist stops”. Instead of visiting every city, choose to know one or two places well. When people see you a few times in their neighborhood or establishment they will open up to you and have normal conversations about their daily lives. 

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A vegan spicy vegan meal in Thimpu (Bhutan).

Horse milk, reindeer sausage, crickets, and worms might be just a bit too adventurous, but eat at the local market, try the street food. Go watch a local show in the park, visit a karaoke bar, find out where the locals hang out. See the beauty in the strange or unknown. Be proud to say that you were the only tourist around.

Breaking bread together is more than just eating. It’s about the connection than the food. Near Angeghakoti (Armenia)

It is about connecting with people. It’s important not to have your drinks and meals in the comfort of your hotel or among hundreds of tourists just like you. Go out. Always be careful, but go out and connect with people or simply do people-watching. Don’t rush time and certainly don’t bury your face in your mobile phone.

Enjoying nature outside of Almaty (Kazakhstan)

A major airline uses ‘widen your world’ as its slogan. I think it’s genius and I live by it. Create your own paths in places others have overlooked. Don’t settle for the same old routines but find joy in the unfamiliar. Dream more, dare more, let the magic happen during your travels.

*All pictures taken with my Iphone

Anchorage, Alaska

Author: alexdavidrosaria

Alex Rosaria is from Curaçao. He has a MBA from University of Iowa. He was Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Development Programme Officer in Africa and Central America. He is an independent consultant active in Asia and the Pacific.

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