Monthly Archives: May 2017

Wonderful Of Traveling

1. You’ll find a new purpose

Traveling is an amazingly underrated investment in yourself. As you travel you’re exposed to more new people, cultures, and lifestyles than you are living in your homeland all the time. With all the newness in your life, you’re also opened to new insights, ways of seeing the world and living, which often gives people a new purpose for their lives. If you’re feeling stuck on what your purpose is, what you want to do with your life, the career or educational path you want to pursue, go travel…you might just be surprised about what you discover as a new sense of life purpose and direction.

“All travel has it’s advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson

When we spend time away from home, especially in a place where we don’t have the same luxuries readily available to us…like a village in Fiji that runs without electricity…we become more aware and appreciative for the luxuries we have back at home. I remember a time where I visited my cousin in Argentina after she’d been living there for about a year. I was visiting her around Christmas time and brought her the new Harry Potter book along with some basic goods that you can find almost anywhere in Los Angeles. She was over joyous and filled with gratitude, like she just got the greatest gift in the world. In other parts of the world, like India and Ethiopia, people don’t have as much access to clean drinking water…especially from what’s readily available on tap. Traveling through areas like that really make us appreciate what we do have, and often can spark the movement of something to support people living there experience a greater quality of life.

3. You’ll realize that your home is more than just where you grew up

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

 The more we travel, the more we realize that our home is so much more than the town, city, state and even country that we’ve grown up in; we realize that our home is the world, this planet, and we become more conscious of how we can harmoniously live and support one another. And in that knowingness and state of consciousness, people like those supporting the movement of charity:water come into fruition.
4. You’ll realize how little you actually knew about the world

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

There’s concept, and then there’s experience. When we travel, we may notice that some of the things we’ve heard about the world end up being very different than what we were indoctrinated and conditioned to believe. Many of the initial myths that get dispelled are often about traveling itself. Where you once may have thought it was too expensive and dangerous, you may realize how you can actually save more on your lifestyle expenses traveling the world than you do living at home. You may also realize how kind and friendly strangers can be, and how they are even willing to take care of you with a place to sleep at night. Beyond that, you have the whole world to learn about with every place you discover, every person you meet and every culture you experience.

5. You’ll realize that it’s extremely easy to make friends

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill

One of the first things I learned from traveling solo is how easy it is to make friends. Something magical happens in how people can show up more raw and real when they’re out of their conditioned environment and open to express themselves without feeling judged. That rawness and realness ends up inspiring others to be authentic, and that’s how you can become best friends with people when you’ve only known them for a few hours.

6. You’ll experience the interconnectedness of humanity

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

Just as we notice how we share similar needs, how our perspective of our home expands, and how we become close friends with others from different backgrounds and cultures, we begin to realize how we are all connected. This state of awareness is a jump in consciousness, and what I mean by that is in the way we perceive the world, the life experience and ourselves. Ken Wilber speaks about consciousness as spiral dynamics

 , each level of consciousness inclusive of the one previous. I feel that traveling often helps people experience a world-centric view of consciousness, and some even on that’s integrated…able to see, understand and accept all states of consciousness, and utilizing the gifts of whatever is best and most appropriate in the moment.

Steps to Write the Perfect Travel

1. Have an Adventure

No one wants to read how about how you checked Facebook from your hotel room all day. If you want to become a travel writer, you have to have stories to tell.

One great way to find adventures worth writing about is to ask your friends and family what sites they would want to see, food they would want to try, and experiences they would want to have. Once you arrive, ask the same questions to locals and expats. By inviting other people into your planning process, you help get a feel for what will interest people in your writing.

As you go on your adventure, make sure to bring your notebook, and when you encounter other people on your journey, write down their names and where they’re from. These little details make your story more memorable.

2. Choose One Moment

As important as capturing all of your memories in your journal is, most of them won’t make very good stories. Instead, read through your journal, and then choose just one moment to build your article around.

For example, I recently wrote about our terrible eighteen hour travel day to Paris. When I first journaled about the experience, I wrote nearly 2,500 words, far too long for an article. And so I decided to focus on just one piece of the trip, how we almost missed our flight, a moment that had enough excitement and drama to carry the whole article.

What’s nice about this is that your journals while your journals don’t directly become published articles, they’re instead turned into a fertile field of stories. I could write five or six articles from one day’s worth of journals.

3. Expand the Story

Next, take your single moment and expand it, illustrating the story with the following:

  • Dialogue
  • Description and Setting
  • Research (like the name of the street you were on and historic and contextual information)
  • Small details (such as what people were wearing)
  • Your own emotions

This is where your article goes from being just a sketch and turns into a real story.

Here, I also try to insert my own voice into the story, adding tone, humor, and dramatic shifts. Do you want this to be a funny story about your travel misadventures or do you want this to be a serious, reflective look at culture and identity? Whichever you choose, try to add it to your story.

4. Revise With Your Subjects in Mind

One of the tricky parts of writing about your travels is that you’re writing about real people. In many ways fiction is easier because you don’t have to worry about offending other people. However, when writing about real people you have to consider their feelings.

If you’re able, it’s always a good idea to send your story, or at the very least, the quotes, to your subjects for permission. If you can’t contact the people in your stories, read and revise with them in mind. How would you feel if this was printed about you? You may also want to change the names of your subjects to protect their identity.

The best travel

Vanessa Chiasson, a traveller who has ventured around the world and writes at, a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Bagan, Burma, provided that jaw-dropping, heart-pounding moment of pure joy.

Ironically, it came after she had experienced her worst travel moment ever – 20 hours of hell on a train trip in the region. But this adventure far outweighed that nightmare ride.

I try to never lose track of how lucky I am that my work as a travel writer introduces me to extraordinary locations, experiences and people. Never has this been more in focus than during a recent hot air balloon ride over the spectacular ancient temples of Bagan. Without a doubt it stands alone as the most incredible, breathtaking travel experience of my life.

There are over 2200 temples and pagodas on the plains of Bagan, most constructed between the 11th and 13th century, the final markers of what was once a thriving kingdom. The plains of Bagan are home to the largest concentration of religious buildings in the world and, in addition to the religious and spiritual significance, the region holds special meaning for archaeologists, historians, seismologists, architects, linguists and artists.

To say that there’s truly nothing like it in the world would be an understatement. Bagan is the place where travel dreams come true.

The sunrise hot air balloon rides are popular so it’s best to book well in advance, but last minute travellers need not despair as standby tickets are often available at a slightly reduced rate 48 hours before departure.

We (Vanessa was travelling with her husband Ryan Wright) were given strict instructions to be ready for pick up at 5.10am and, true to their word, our bus arrived right on time – no small feat considering the state of some roads and the tardy habits of travellers.

It was a special ride. The Canadian built wooden bus that picked us up was brought over in World War II for the purposes of transporting troops. At the end of the war, the cost of shipping all the buses back to Canada was prohibitive and so they were left behind. Today the fleet has been lovingly restored and they must be some of the most unique buses in the world!

 The unique bus. Picture: Ryan Wright/Turnipseed TravelSource:Supplied
After picking up some additional guests, we made our way to the launch field. The pilots introduced themselves and explained the basics of ballooning. They were warm, friendly and funny and set my nerves at ease.

The pilots divided us into groups to balance out the baskets and gave us complimentary baseball hats. These were souvenirs with a practical purpose, as dust can enter the balloon while it is filling and later drop down on the passengers (we never noticed any falling dust, but we were thrilled to have the souvenirs). It was fascinating to watch the balloons being prepared. From the metres upon metres of rippling silk to the roar of the fire, it was an incredibly intricate process to observe.

The balloons are huge. Picture: Ryan Wright/Turnipseed TravelSource:Supplied

A few pointers for all the other anti-adventurist folks out there: There is no graceful way to get into a hot-air balloon basket. There are little grooves for your toes as you climb up the side but essentially you just tip in. Happily, there’s no chance of tipping out! The basket went up to my chest and its walls had very sturdy grips.

There’s also no chance of the basket swaying or shaking in the sky. It’s huge, weighs nearly 500 kilograms and is divided into different compartments to distribute the weight. The basket is also very comfortable – inside each little compartment is a padded bench in case you wanted to sit down and the sides and edges are also padded.

There’s a lot of padding. Picture: Ryan Wright/Turnipseed…Source:Supplied

Just before our launch pilot Graeme noticed that a passenger was not well and seemed to be suffering from a panic attack. The decision was made that the man should not fly and the situation was handled with discretion. Then, before I even realised what had happened, we were off the ground.

A small village

Our gentle landing went off without a hitch and we were soon back on solid land. A small group of souvenir sellers were on hand to greet us, but none were pushy. Clean, wet facecloths were handed around so we could refresh and remove dust. A circle of chairs was set up for us to enjoy a light breakfast, consisting of sparkling wine (or lemonade), croissants, banana bread, and sliced fruit (banana and papaya).

Hot air balloon rides are an incredible travel experience and I cannot think of a more exhilarating location to enjoy them than in Bagan. It was the most stunning travel experience of my life.

Travel Changes Your Perspective

1. It inspires curiosity.

I went on one of those “See a Million Italian Cities in Ten Days” in high school, but came back with not much more than a sunburn, a suitcase full of limoncello, and fake Venetian masks. It wasn’t until I invited myself to an ecotourism homestay in Umbria that I began to understand and appreciate the complex culture (and pasta shapes) of Italy. From that point, I learned all of the Italian kitchen terms (which gradually upgraded to opera lyrics and the passive subjunctive tense), cheese names, grape varieties, and soil varieties from Sicily to Aosta.

Finding a meaningful volunteer or adventure abroad opportunity places us in contact with activities and people that can fuel our current interests, or inspire an entirely new one. Traveling expands our horizon to include rhythms, languages, social causes, histories, and sports we didn’t even know existed.

2. It forces us to grow up.

Meaningful travel— especially off-the-grid or solo, is a crash course in responsibility and humanity. Exposure to new cultures and tasks exponentially boosts our maturity, which creates well-balanced global citizens with a good sense of direction (literally or figuratively; take your pick), real life credentials, and a deeper understanding for the world around us.

Whether it is during a semester abroad in Zimbabwe or a nursing internship in India, we step out of our comfort zones and are required to pack our own lunch, read bus schedules in foreign languages, and haggle for our produce at the local market. We come in contact with daily situations that change our perception of how things work, which is great motivation to change how we function ourselves.

3. It redefines “home.”

Traveling slowly, becoming part of new communities, and seeing how other people live in all corners of the world helps us define what “home” is – and isn’t – to us. When we get homesick (inevitably), it makes us appreciate people or aspects of daily life we left behind or took for granted, and it opens our eyes to what holds houses together.

Most of the time, it’s not the terracotta bricks or bamboo walls that make us feel at home. Rather, it is the sense of comfort that comes from certain people, familiar foods, favorite songs, or shared traditions. “Home” becomes a comforting cloak we begin to carry around with us, rather than something concrete that ties us down or something we need to look for.

4. It shatters stereotypes.

I confess that when I went to a language school in Mexico, I was a little bit surprised to find out that Mexico isn’t just desert, cacti, tacky sombreros, and spicy food (although there is a fair share of all of the above). This is a narrow preconception, but it’s even worse when I mention that I grew up in Texas, just across the border. I should have known better, huh?

Within 24 hours, Mexico became my favourite country— and it still stands high on the list. This is to say that we don’t know people and places, even if they are in our own backyard, until we go there with an open mind. We cannot understand cultures until we experience them, taste them, talk to them, learn from them. And, along the same thread, meaningful travel breaks others’ conceptions of us (the traveler) and the country we are serving as ambassadors for. Breaking down stereotypes and boundaries, one positive interaction at a time. This is the most literal example of how travel changes your perspective.

5. It leaves a thumbprint.

Meaningful travel isn’t tourism en masse. Instead of marching among endless herds through the Colosseum, down the Champs d’Elysee, or up the Empire State Building, meaningful travel leads us to create our own path down unexplored territory – oftentimes, this is barefoot, muddy, and full of tangles. And most of the time, this leaves us in peaceful clearings or at the edge of an oasis.

We come in contact with people, places, and situations not accustomed to tourism. These interactions are, as a consequence, more significant and intimate. Names are matched to faces, stories are told, and new trails are blazed. Thumbprints are left upon new territories (but, not literally), upon others’ memories, and upon our hearts.

6. It slows down time.

There is a common fear of running out of time, of not seeing everything, of not doing enough. And while there are always a million things to do and places to be at the same time, traveling at the pace of our heartbeat roots us in the here and now.

It’s not about being on time for the next activity on the packed group tour itinerary; it’s about being on our own time, in the right place. There is no reason to rush the sunset, wait to eat until we are hungry, or worry about making the connecting flight next week. It’s about breathing in and focusing on what is in front of us.7. It helps sort out our priorities.

This is the big one, the truest example of how travel changes your perspective. Meaningful travel makes us realize what we do – or don’t – need in life. If we miss individuals, climates, diets, or bureaucratic procedures, we add more value to them by trying to incorporate them in our long-term goals. If we can go weeks without even thinking about checking our work schedule, the latest football scores, or talking to Christopher from government class, chances are, they do not require an allotted space in our hearts.

Seeing how the world lives inspires us to re-evaluate what we actually require to be happy and ‘successful.’

More often than not, what we need is a lot less, and a lot more simple than imagined. Life becomes more about experiences and connections, rather than money and job titles and the latest car models. Memories take over physical things and quality tends to dominate over quantity.

Departure screens read like bucket-lists of all the places you want to go – and will go – someday.