Achieving Euphoria

“The difference between a tourist and a traveler is that a tourist seeks only comfort while a traveler seeks discovery. They take more risks. They get pleasure in overcoming difficulties and discomforts, and they seek out the people.”

-Lea Lane

I found this quote today while browsing the web and I felt like it almost hugged me. Lane’s words really got to me and made me ponder what it sincerely means to be a traveler. When I talk about my travel experiences, the idea of staying in a hotel v. a hostel came in mind. In fact, I had a pretty heated conversation with an older cousin today when I told him I’d be couchsurfing in NYC pretty soon. Although I have some amazing friends in NYC that I could stay with or sleep in a hotel, I knew I wanted to give this popular sleeping arrangement a shot. My cousin couldn’t understand why I dreaded the idea of staying in a resort where the staff would cater to my every need. For me, it’s not about the financial concern. I’ve stayed in both 4 and 5 star hotels as well as hostels of all sorts around the world. It’s much more difficult to find that sincere sense of authenticity when staying at a place like a resort. My takeaway from the high-end spots have left me feeling empty whereas the hostels made me feel like there was a sense of empowerment and reason to live and explore. The people who were there didn’t care about life’s futile attempt at just gaining an extra buck as opposed to gaining a new outlook on life. Your wealth is defined by the impression you make on others, or how you make them feel as Maya Angelou suggested, rather than your bank account.

At the end of the day and for as long as I can, my natural desire steers me towards the more adventurous route. While I’ve never couchsurfed, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to meet people who can share with me their personal stories and philosophies on life. My thought process is to open your mind to as many new ideas as possible. That includes seeking out people and befriending others who you never thought you’d have any association with in life. I love being surprised by people and that’s something I’ve found in the people I’ve met “randomly” through life. Sure, sleeping in a room with strangers can be a terrifying concept, but trust me, those encounters can prove to be some of the best experiences of your life. Take it from me – a good number of my very best friends to this day were founded on these random encounters (I’ll elaborate more when I have time). And so it is, on your next trip to a new location, or even just wandering through your own hometown with a new set of eyes, I ask that you follow Lane’s tip to “seek discovery.”




A Traveler’s Regret

I’ve traveled to numerous cities and countries around the world. Looking back, if I could do one thing differently, I’d send myself a postcard from every city I’d ever visited. I’d buy postcards from Prague, London, Basel, Paris, everywhere, capture the highlights of my time in each city on the back, and send it to myself. That way, I’d always have a souvenir waiting for me at home. You’ll never forget some of your fondest memories like what you did, who you were with, and what you ate. People tend to send postcards to friends and family whenever they visit a new city, but I challenge you to start this trend for yourself.



Acknowledgement Goes A Long Way

Sure, getting recognition for receiving that prestigious award or being promoted to a higher position are great and dandy, but sometimes, other things naturally take precedence.

No matter who you are, there are times in this world when we feel like no one notices us. Even Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela felt that way because in the end, we are all just human. It’s not exactly a matter of knowing people realize what grand accomplishments you’ve achieved in life, but rather knowing people see what’s underneath the semi-facade we illustrate. Before you twist my words, I’m not saying that we are necessarily fake, but society does suggest that we should express our “happier sides” because the sheer sign of any other emotion gets dramatized. Celebrities and other public figures, in particular, understand this like the back of their hand.

Iconic Princess Diana hid mountains of frustration for years.

Iconic Princess Diana hid mountains of frustration from the public and the British Royal Family for years.

I’m covering this now because I woke up today feeling like a little girl who lost her favorite doll. Before this post, I felt like no one could hear all of my shouting. This means nothing to you, right? I’m discussing my job search post-college. It’s been exactly 2 months today since I’ve graduated from university, yet I either haven’t gotten my “dream job” or just haven’t liked the offers that I have had. Thankfully, I have an extremely supportive family and group of friends.

This morning, I didn’t talk much. Essentially, I was just a zombie. When my Mother noticed this unusual behavior from me, her simple question, “Why are you so sad?” really hit home for me. She instantly knew/knows my frustrations with the job search. As cliché as it sounds, she really is the most amazing mother in the world. “It takes time,” she said, “and remember that it’s only been 2 months since you’ve graduated from college. Relax. Read, eat well, and exercise. Enjoy the time you have off and be thankful that you don’t have any bills or college debt to pay like other kids post-undergrad. I know greater things are ahead of you.”

My Mom doesn't like having her photos being posted in the cloud, but this is how I feel like our relationship is like...except, she was the girl holding me up this morning.

My Mom doesn’t like having her photos being posted in the cloud, but this is how I feel our relationship is like…except, she was the girl holding me up this morning.

Anyway, knowing that this is a travel blog, you’re probably wondering how on Earth this relates to traveling at all. I’ve traveled to a couple places alone when I was in Europe, but it was really on my recent trip that I met someone particularly great right off the bat.

It was in my hostel in Brussels, where I met this girl. I entered the room for the first time, quite late at about 9 or 9:30 P.M., expecting to see the room with 10 beds like I had booked, but was surprised to only see 3. One for me, one for my traveling partner, and one for the girl who was already semi-asleep in the third bed. I saw a Target bag in the room and asked, “Is that YOUR Target bag?” That’s what really sparked our conversation. She was from California and was traveling alone for 40 days after happily quitting her banking job of 4 years. We didn’t talk much that night because I was meeting up with a friend at Delirium Cafe soon after, but I knew I wanted to get to know her better the following day. When my friend and I woke up the next morning, our new Californian friend brought us some apples from the hostel’s breakfast service. How sweet, right? We ended up hanging out that entire day, which happened to be hers and our last full day in Belgium, and boy did we laugh so much until our stomachs couldn’t handle it anymore. I can honestly say that she’s downright one of the most fun people I’ve ever met in my life and I can’t wait to meet up with her somewhere cool one day. I’ll be posting all about our interesting experiences together in a future post.

Keri, my Californian friend, and I at the bar inside our hostel the night before saying, "see ya later, alligator."

Keri, my Californian friend, and I at the bar inside our hostel the night before saying, “see ya on the other side…of the world, that is.”

So what’s the takeaway from this? Acknowledge the presence of others and be welcoming. You never know how much the smallest piece of recognition – the genuine desire to learn the feelings, the emotions, and the true characters – of others could lead you. Whether it’s asking, “Why are you so sad?” or “Is that your Target bag?” I ask you to be curious in life.