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When I say I want to travel, I don’t mean I want to stay at resorts and go on tours with pre-programmed tour guides or buy key chains from souvenir shops.

I don’t want to be a tourist.  When I say I want to travel I mean I want to explore another country and be part of it.  I want to touch a country’s soul and be a better person for it.

I want to discover the streets of Macau – the ones away from the big casinos where real life happens.  I want to walk on beaches in Oman with a camel looking over my shoulder, then climb down to the Bimmah sinkhole for a swim.   I’ll celebrate the arrival of the season’s newborn animals with Mongolian nomads, and feel free amongst the dunes at Moltsog Els.

I’ll browse the bookstores of England; not the new ones but the old musty ones that remind me of the odour of my grandmother’s basement.  I want to hike the rugged edges of the Himalayas again and perhaps give Nepal another chance.   What is it like to ride with the gaucho’s in Argentina or the Uruguayan Pampas?  Maybe both.  I want to know.

The Trans-Siberian Express has a ticket with my name on it for an epic journey from China to Moscow.  I want to go during the dead of winter to know firsthand the bitter cold of Siberia.  I want to feel Tahiti’s soft white sand beneath my bare feet away from the crowds and contemplate what’s right in the world.  Then I want to be amongst the tribes in West Papua immersing into the secretive tribal lives of the Dani people.  I want to wear a Koteka during a ceremony.

I want to meet people who are not like me, but people who I can like all the same.  Their culture, how they pray and their way of everyday life interest me greatly.  I want to see their smiles, listen to their hopes and wonder if what I offer them is anywhere near as valuable as what they give to me.  I want to take compelling photographs of places and people I meet.  I don’t want a selfie.  I want to be a part of their story, not the other way around.

I want my mind to be in constant awe of life on earth and everything that’s in it.  I want to see the world with new eyes.  I want to look at a map and be able to remember how I was transformed by the places I’ve been to, the remarkable experiences I’ve had,  peculiar things I’ve seen, and more importantly, the people I’ve met.  The people who changed me.  The people who unconditionally took me into their lives as part of their families.

I want to come home and realize that I have not come home whole, but have left a piece of my heart in each place I have been.  Part of me is already in many places around the world.  I want to leave more.

This, I think, is what is at the heart of adventure and this is why I’ve made my life one.

There is a magic in travel because it can be complex, yet fulfilling.  True life unravels throughout a journey and you discover parts of you that you never imagine.  There is beauty in discovering new places and cultures.  There is also beauty in discovering more about yourself.

 

 

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We never want to believe that there is a special place where we can withdraw from everyday life.  Each day we’re faced with an avalanche of rush hour traffic or sirens blaring through the heavy city air.  We’re lost in a sea of people avoiding eye contact and we’re bombarded with advertisements whether we’re walking through town or skimming through Insta-Ad.  And by Insta-Ad I mean Instagram.

Some days are maddening and we simply want to check out of the routine.  There must be a magical place in this world calling our name, calling us away from our habitual lifestyles.  Daydreams lead us to an idyllic place.  Then, snap!  A text message arrives or a pencil drops.  Our gaze reluctantly drifts away from the window, our virtual break.  We’re jolted back to the routines that keep us from where we really want to be.

A lot of people don’t want to believe there is a place where we can go to escape the rigorous demands placed on us every day.  We all to often choose to ignore the wide-open door leading elsewhere, and instead live vicariously through fictional characters beamed onto our televisions or computer screens.  That’s what television and the internet are – escapism.  I often call both the biggest black holes of our time.

Perhaps the outskirts of town is a foreign land as you get tangled up in everyday life.  When I’m home, I think driving ten miles is a day trip and I should pack a lunch.  Maybe even the thought of hopping on a plane seems like more hassle than it’s worth.  Air travel isn’t easy today with security demands and oblivious fellow travellers.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in our day to day routines.  I always think if I stay home and work at my desk, I’ll forget how alive I feel when I travel.  The urge to go anywhere foreign will go away.  I stayed home in 2017 and I’ve never felt so empty in my life.  There wasn’t one positive thought in my mind.  There wasn’t anything I could look forward to.  I won’t go as far as saying I was depressed but definitely unhappy.

That’s not true of everyone, I realize.  Instead, so many people want to live uncomplicated and simple lives staying put.   Some want to swim in their reality and remain in their safety zone.  But, while swimming through it, you miss out on so many idyllic landscapes, vibrant cultures and amazingly handsome architecture waiting to be discovered.

Yes, you get a glimpse of another world by watching television or surfing the internet without realizing at times there is no substitute for travel.  In fact, no matter how much you have learned in a classroom, there is no better education than experiencing a land beyond your own country.  The sounds of Jamaa el-Fna, clouds swirling around your head in the Himalayas or the colourful sight of a ceremony in Bali can’t be replaced by television, an Instagram photo or a YouTube video.

The truth is this – travel spins us around in more ways than we can imagine.  Travel teaches each of us life’s lessons we can never find in a book or screen.  It shows us what is really important in life especially if you’re immersed in a foreign culture.  The values and issues we might ignore on any given day are in our face typically accompanied with a genuine smile and a warm hello.  And even deeper, travel shows us all the parts of ourselves that are buried beneath the smothering routine we subject ourselves to.

For in travelling to a truly foreign place – a place we don’t recognize as home, we accordingly travel to tastes, and sounds and states of mind and hidden feelings that we’d otherwise have reason to visit.  Travel is a quick way to keep our minds energized and awake. Thoughts become clearer and our breaths deeper.

And if travel is like love, and I believe it is, it is mostly because we become aware of ourselves and our world.  We are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed.  That is why, like the best love affairs, special travel experiences never really end.

I’ve visited Bangkok numerous times, though this last visit was the first time I made it to Wat Pho.  If you’re unfamiliar, Wat Pho is one of six temples in Thailand classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples.  The temple, one of the oldest in Bangkok, is home to the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46m (+/- 150 ft) long reclining Buddha.   Often Wat Pho is also referred to as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

Long story short, Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha are important to Thai Buddhists.  In fact, the temple complex is sacred.  It’s not uncommon to see locals, or Buddhists, pray at various places with the complex – especially at the king-size Reclining Buddha.

Common sense tells us to respect the area and symbols as we would our own churches, temples or mosques.  On the day I visited Wat Pho a small group of three tourists decided it was a good idea to stop the flow of visitors – literally stop them – while they took turns laying on the floor in the Reclining Buddha pose and then snap selfies.  If the selfie-takers weren’t satisfied with their ‘pics,’ they’d retake the photos until they were pleased.  To top off the outrageous behaviour, they took time to post their ‘clever’ images to their social media accounts.

If I had not witnessed the ridicule with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.  If the vast population did not own smartphones and if social media didn’t exist, it’s highly probably the sort of behaviour I saw wouldn’t take place.  That’s not to say mobile phones or social media are to blame, because they’re not.  People are to blame.  Phones and social media encourage the distasteful acts.

A number of popular destinations around the world experience bad behaviour from visitors.  It’s not uncommon to see angry rallies in Venice, attacks on tour buses in Barcelona and plans to limit visitor numbers in Dubrovnik.  From Venice to Amsterdam, Hvar to San Sebastian, locals are becoming increasingly vocal and vigilant about the negative impact tourism is having on their homes.  Who can blame them?

On Rialto Bridge I witnessed a young Venetian’s date ruined when two tourists burst onto the scene with no regard to who or what was around them.  Their loud voices carried into the night like a crowd cheering at a football match.  The young male Venetian took his stand and let the two female tourists know in no uncertain terms Venice belonged to him and they were not welcome.  The moment was so intense even I backed away and I wasn’t part of the conflict.

It’s easy to say common sense and respect should rule the day.  What does that mean?  Below is a list of some key things tourists can do to make destinations better for locals and ultimately yourselves.

1.  Go Somewhere Else.  If you’re planning on visiting a destination that is up in arms about tourism, consider going somewhere else. Our world is vast and our travel choices are many.  Perhaps choose Utrecht instead of Amsterdam or Siena over Rome.  Going elsewhere will likely improve your holiday experience.  Chances are you’ll also experience fewer visitors and lesser known destinations tend to be less expensive.   I’m not a typical tourist by any stretch of the word.  In fact, I’m more of a traveler than a tourist.  When I travel the road less traveled, I often find a place more interesting, I’m more at ease and it’s more rewarding in the end.

2.  Avoid The Must-See Sights.  In fact, avoid the guidebooks that lead you to the hot spots all together.   If ever I see a headline that reads something like “10 Things You Must Do in Hong Kong,” it is a cue for me to avoid every one of the places on the guidebook’s list or blogger’s lists.  If you do a little research and talk to the locals you’ll learn of better places to visit at a similar site elsewhere. What’s more is you’ll have a much better experience because there are far fewer people visiting it.  Besides, creating your own journey and personal experience in a destination is better and more memorable.  Create your own story that is yours and yours alone.

3.  Forget High Season.  An obvious way to get the most out of your travel is to avoid the time when everyone else goes.  I’ve always visited Venice during the off-season.  When I’m exploring Venice at night with my camera, I often have the island to myself except for St Mark’s Square.  The shops and restaurants operate as normal in off-season.  The added bonus – the hotel rates are less expensive even at high end accommodations.  I love it and I also love that the manager of UNA Hotel Venezia meets me at the water taxi welcoming me back with a hug.

4.  Leave Your Home and Customs At Home.  In Bali, once, I challenged a London friend to leave London behind for two weeks.  I knew he couldn’t stop himself from saying, “In London, we …….”  Each time he’d start, I’d cut him off.  Toward the end of his time in Bali all I had to do was glance at him.   It was sort of a game with my friend, though you can’t expect your habits, customs and way of thinking to be the same wherever you travel.  Do you think Parisians really want to hear (or care) how you eat breakfast at home as opposed to their way?  If you think Parisians do, I want to hear all about it.  The same is true everywhere.  Open your mind and your heart and embrace the diversity you’ll discover along the way.  You’ll grow when you leave home behind.

5.  Don’t Ask For International Chains.  As I travel around the world I notice homogenized cities.  More and more I can count on finding Starbuck’s, Gap, Levi’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Swatch, Disney, Lancome and more.  Kuala Lumpur looks the same to me as London despite the cultural differences.  Why would you travel 6000 or more miles to visit the same stores you can find at home?  I’m an avid shopper but if I shop when I travel, I want something local and something I can find nowhere else.   Think about it – do you really want to buy an imported item?  Instead consider spending money on regional products in local shops.

6.  Learn A Few Words Of The Local Language.  Even if you can’t correctly complete a proper sentence in Arabic, at least try.  If you can attempt to converse with the locals in their language, they’ll love you for it even if they chuckle.  Additionally, the local might be more accommodating to your question if you attempt their language.  The old trick of pointing and talking loudly really is an insult. Trust me, speaking loudly and slowly while asking your question to a local will not gain your foreign friends.

7.  Put Your Selfie Sticks Away.  In fact, forget selfies all together.  I’m sure locals take their own selfies, but when you obstruct a passageway for your own narcissistic reasons, you’re not projecting a positive image of yourself or where you come from.

8.  Be Respectful.  Wherever you to, abide by the local laws, respect the local customs and dress appropriately.  Locals sometimes feel outnumbered by tourists and oftentimes they are.  People in destinations like Venice are becoming increasingly angry that some tourists are disrespecting their hometown.  Don’t be that person.  Ultimately, give the locals one less thing to complain about.  Try being a traveler instead of a tourist.  You’ll be a better person for it.

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A ‘Gentleman’.
Forget travelling like one for a moment – what does being a ‘gentleman’ really mean?

The word, ‘gentleman’ once specifically identified a man of distinguished birth.  As time progressed, ‘gentleman’ was broadened to include a man of good standing.  Today, ‘gentleman’ refers to a chivalrous, courteous and honourable man – young or mature.  I like my own category – modern gentleman.  In a future post, I’ll explain my definition of a modern gentleman.  No matter whose definition or criteria is used, there has been a shift in what being a gentleman means:  it has evolved to describe an acceptable code of conduct that has nothing to do with how high or low in society you’re born.

We commonly call gentlemanly behaviour’ manners,’ which simply put is about being aware of others, considerate to everyone and putting the company you keep at ease at any given time.

All that said, have you tried travelling and keeping your composure at the same time?  Can you be considerate and stay well-mannered as a gentleman should?

Today, travelling anywhere begets its own stresses.  If you’re travelling for pleasure and your journey is one to enjoy, smiles, please, thank you, and sometimes even pardon me can go by the wayside as you trundle through the maddening crowds to get to your destination.  Doors slam in your face after you’ve held the very same door for someone else, you don’t receive the same courtesies you offer and you might even be pushed or shoved with no regard by a host of passersby.  It’s true.

Is there still time for you to behave like a gentleman during these challenging times?  Yes.  Absolutely.

We love our personal space.  I love mine and if people get too close to us, we tend to take a step back.  When in a metropolis, you can expect to have somebody’s armpit in your face on a train or subway on a hot summer’s day.  And, as unpleasant as the armpit may be, we must accept the conditions.  We have little choice unless you step off and wait for the next ride.   While using the London Underground during rush hour, for instance, you can expect to be mashable from all sides.  You must accept to be part of the tin sardine pack or do as I do and avoid rush hour.  A brisk walk across the golden city is far more amenable in my opinion, and the exercise is better for you.

Travel by airplane is no better.  In fact, courteousness has fallen by the wayside as the airport experience has worsened with heightened security and unnecessary fees.  Sometimes I watch flight attendants and think they’re more like bouncers at a nightclub. Perhaps if everyone had and used proper manners flying would feel all the more civilized.

Of course, if you are seated in first or business class on an aeroplane, your travel experience will be different than in economy.  I was shoved aside by a flight attendant during my last economy experience.  If that wasn’t enough, I was squeezed into an uncomfortable spot in my seat because the person sitting next to me spilt over into my space.   The two occurrences happened on a single flight. This was enough to tell me I’d never see economy again.  My choice is not based on elitism, but instead unacceptable instances in flying economy.

The trials of long-haul travel and others habits or discourteous acts will test your tolerance to the max.  One of the biggest irritations on any flight is the reclining seat.  If a meal has been served, you should always consider the person seated behind before adjusting your position.  It’s only right.  Getting up repeatedly and disturbing those either side at inappropriate times also falls within the territory of ungentlemanly behaviour.  After all, enduring a flight seated next to a constant talker who turns into a fidgeter is enough to unsettle even the most relaxed of frequent fliers.

We all like to mentally go into our own zones when we’re amongst crowds.  In other words, we distance ourselves.  Should you choose to ‘step away’ from the crowd with your headphones, be sure to use the noise cancelling sort and keep the volume down. You don’t want to unknowingly disturb others.  Listen to flight attendant’s instructions and act accordingly.  The rules of flights apply to everyone.

Finally, your home away from home – the hotel.  The interaction between yourself and hotel staff defines the success of any hotel; however, it also reveals much about a man’s manners.  A gentleman shows respect at all times to all staff, not only to the concierge or management who might greet you.  Some of my best friends and even experiences resulted from genuine good manners at hotels.  This is true.   Also, remember to observe local customs no matter where you are when it comes to your behaviour and dress.

Being a gentleman is not difficult.  Being a modern gentleman can mean you’re casual but it always means you project yourself in good light.  Be mindful of others, respect everyone and play nice whether you’re travelling on the Underground or 30,000 feet in the air.  The notion of being a gentleman is straightforward.  Being a gentleman demands courtesy, consideration and compromise.

There is nothing old-fashioned or difficult about being a gentleman.  More times than not being a gentleman will benefit you more in the long run.  If you haven’t already, give being a genuine gentleman a go.

A travel journey is more than going from destination A to B. 

Join a gentleman traveller and photographer, Mark Paulda, as he shares once in a lifetime travel experiences, thoughts on the meaning of travel, and challenging the familiar.  

The Gentleman Wayfarer blog and vlog is an original travel series aimed to inspire you to travel and challenge your familiar.  Join me for colourful travel photography, compelling video and stories.  I won’t tell you where to stay or how to get “there,” but I will share experiences you can take; ones you’ll never forget.

In years past, travel was easy.  Today, travel can be stressful.  Planning a journey, deciding what to pack in your suitcase, time delays, airport security and even more travellers than we’ve ever seen can put a damper on what is supposed to be our escape.  We want to escape our stress of everyday life, but the obstacles can sometimes get the best of us.

Think of Point A to Point B as a necessary evil.  I typically have enough distractions in my carry-on so I’m able to tune out everything around me.  

The journey really begins once you pass through passport control and customs of any given airport.  Once you step outside the customs door, everything from home begins to drift away.  Discovery of new cultures, awe-inspiring landscapes, sights you never thought you’d see, new spices and tastes await you.  You’ll find laughter is the best medicine and your the people in your host country will have a sense of humour you weren’t expecting.  You’ll be surprised by new perspectives after you’ve opened your mind to new ways of life and different ways of thinking.  You’ll see colours that delight your senses and hear music you can’t resist.

This new self-discovery awaits you.  It has been waiting for you to arrive.  What you see and learn learn, and what you learn about yourself is the in between.  The best part about travel is you can leave yourself and your home country behind.  You can be anyone you want to be.  You can be your new self or change into a person you never thought you could be.

Be open to anything and everything.  Don’t allow an experience to pass you by.  You’re braver than you know; your mind is ready for new discoveries.  Your heart will thank you after you’ve finished.  You’ll have your own experience of a lifetime.  When you do, come back and tell me about it.

A discussion on getting the most out of your travels. In particular, I strongly advise you sample the local/regional cuisines to really enjoy your travels to the fullest. Throughout this blog, you’ll hear my stories of the great finds and wonderful food that I’ve experienced during my travelling and the great pleasure and insight into each different culture that these experiences have given me.

Part of the purpose of my travels is to sample the various cuisines around this country and the rest of the world. You learn so much about the culture and the people by doing so. And, you pick up some super cooking tips along the way.

One example occurred at a stop in the Texas Hill Country in Blanco, Texas while having lunch at Riley’s B-B-Que. You were immediately drawn in by just smelling the meats smoking outside. The smell did not disappoint, as the brisket was as succulent and flavorful as I had ever had. This old-fashioned real deal, bare-bones restaurant ( interior pictured below ) concentrated on one thing, and one thing only; mouth watering bar-b-que.

After lunch, the chef showed me his setup and discussed his approach to cooking the brisket. First, the meat was marinated overnight in water with some vinegar and spices. Then the next morning a spice rub was added and it was smoked over low heat all day. The woods he used were a combination of mesquite, hickory, and pecan. The thicken marinade was brushed over the meat every time it was turned. By the end of business that day, after 12-14 hours of smoking, the meats were removed and stored, ready for use the following day. My taste buds greatly appreciated the care and attention that he paid to make his brisket special.

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Let’s face it.  In today’s world, we love instant gratification.  How many times do you see someone take a photo, then immediately look at their LCD screen, or phone, to see how the photo turned out?  I am just as guilty as anyone.  The ease, and accessibility, of digital photography, has turned the photography world upside down several times over. 

It is easier to carry a few memory cards, than lugging around multiple rolls of film.  Then, there is the cost of developing the film, then scanning it for a digital file.  I must admit to having more digital cameras than necessary from point and shoot cameras to a medium format digital, and everything in between.

As much as I love digital, and its ease, there is a definite difference in quality.  When I use the word quality, I am referring to depth, richness in colours, and tone.  Even with my Hasselblad H5D-50,  these qualities just aren’t there.  This is not to say the H5D is not an amazing camera.  It is, but it simply can not produce what film can.

So, I asked myself – “What if … what if I would also carry a film camera in addition to my digital with me wherever I travel in the world?  So, this is exactly what I have been doing.  Film photography and travel go hand in hand.

I have learned using film makes me a more thoughtful photographer.  Why?  Because I do not want to waste a shot.  If this makes me a better photographer, I don’t know and will allow others to judge this.  All I know is I put more thought into focusing and composition.  More than this, I take the time to visualise a photograph before clicking the shutter.

As a gentleman, give film photography a go if you haven’t already.  Contemporary images show us a gentleman carries a Hasselblad or Leica, but does the man in the photo know how to use analogue?  Film cameras are more than an accessory; they are well-made works of art that will help you create quality images.photo of mark paulda's cameras

In the photo above you can see some of the film cameras I use Wista RF 4×5 (which I am about to use a lot more!), Hasselblad 500cm, Hasselblad SWC, Hasselblad XPan, Mamiya 7, Mamiya 7II, Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, and the Leica M7.  Not shown is an original Rolleiflex, Yashica-A medium format, Yashica 35mm, and an array of plastic Lomo cameras.  I’m a guy.  If you’re a guy and reading this, you’ll understand the love for gadgets in almost any form.

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Travel (should) bring the unexpected to your senses, your perspectives and everything you know about life and what you know.  Sometimes travel experiences and the people you meet along the way can turn your world upside down. 

You might see a sacrifice at a Bali Temple or during End al-Adha in Muslim countries.  It’s also possible to be invited to dinner in someone’s home and be served unidentifiable treats.  There is also a possibility you’ll be in a place with no running water or indoor plumbing; perhaps there is no toilet in the restroom.  Your mind might be challenged well beyond what you consider “normal.”

All of the above and more have happened while I’ve travelled around the world.  In the western world, it’s doubtful you’ll experience anything but what you are accustomed to at home.  When you step into developing countries, be ready for almost anything.

Travel with me will always lead you to expect the unexpected.  I love change, challenging what I know, testing my limits and being amongst the unfamiliar.  The parts I love about travel are often uncomfortable for others.  Go with the flow, whatever happens, happens.  There is a general timetable yet no strict itinerary or agenda.  

Experience.  Simply experience where you are and who you’re with.  Love every bit of life while you are doing whatever it is you’re doing. Scare yourself and learn you are braver than you ever thought you could be.  Put your trust in someone you don’t know and rely upon the kindness of strangers.

Learn to love yourself, by yourself.  If you can be by yourself and have the time of your life, you can do anything.  Turn your world upside down then find the right side up.  Has your world changed or have you changed?  

Travel is more than a mere destination.  It touches your soul beyond measure.

What is your most memorable travel experience?

Destination:  Bali Indonesia

For most of my travel years, I’ve been a Europhile and a Londonphile. Travel meant hopping on a train for a day trip outside London, the Eurostar for Paris or a short plane ride to Venice. Then one day I ventured further as I hopped on a plane to Istanbul, then Morocco and my idea of travel changed. There was more than cathedrals, castles and people who looked like me. My curious mind went into overdrive and I loved every minute of the places I was experiencing. I looked at the world differently and wondered what have I been missing?

One more step took me to The Maldives and an island so remote I felt as if I had entered another world. I’m not sure I loved the Maldives, though I liked the idea of being far far away from the world I knew. The Maldives were my first taste of Asia. The experience intrigued me enough to explore more.

A year later I flew LAX to Tokyo and I was transported into a land and culture I immediately fell in love with. My next stop was Bangkok and my affinity grew stronger. Bhutan melted my heart and touched my soul, then I began a love affair with Bali that I’m sure will ever end.

I set this story up now because there are many Asia adventures ahead for this blog. Travel is a progression of sorts. You first go see the sights, then you find there is genuine life away from home and a huge family waiting to welcome you. This is true in all parts of the world. Travel is an education unlike anything found in a textbook.

Everyone learns something different from travelling. When I say travelling, I mean anywhere away from your hometown; any place where no one knows your name.

There are three important factors for me when I travel. One, I mostly travel solo. I learn the most and I have the most interesting experiences when I’m on my own. Two, I leave behind my American and Western way of thinking when I travel; otherwise, I’d be shocked in most places I visit. Three, I travel slow and deep rather than furiously collect passport stamps. I want to touch the souls of the cultures I visit and I want to fully understand them.

When I meet my own criteria for travel, I undoubtedly am in for a travel experience of a lifetime.

How do you approach your own travel adventures?
When did you realize travel is more than a destination?

Destination: Thailand, Tokyo, Bhutan and Bali

The Meaning of Travel

Travel has a different meaning for everyone.  We all seek something different when we get away from our daily routine.  For me, travel began many years ago merely being a tourist running around seeing all of the sights the guidebooks told me I simply should not miss.  “Hello Eiffel Tower”; take the obligatory photo.  “Here I am riding a vaporetto on the Grand Canal”; take the obligatory photo.  This is a thrill for many and this is ok.  I remember hosting a couple in London not too long ago.  One of the visitors barely lifted her nose away from her guidebook.  I couldn’t help but say, “Look up!  Look up!  You’re missing London.”

I am a gentleman traveller and a curious one at that.  I seek experiences and moments that have meaning.  I want to know the people of the place where I am visiting.  What do they think?  What are their customs and will they share them with me?   What can they teach me about life?  What can they teach me about my home country? And, I’m always curious about people’s level of happiness.  I don’t know why.  It’s simply a curious pursuit of mine.

Perhaps at this point in my life peeling away the superficial bits that separate cultures are what I find more appealing.  Quite frankly, I think deep down we are all the same.  The father and leader of the nomadic Berber tribe worry how his children will fare in the changing world.  The twenty-three-year-old kid in Bali wonders what truly interests him and what he will do with his life.  The examples go further, yet the stories are the same that we know in the western world.

Our experiences from our own cultures are what separate us only in the way we try to solve problems.  We are all trying to “make it” in this world and I’ve seen this over and over wherever I go.

This is the purpose of this blog.  I want to inspire you to travel as far, and wide, as is possible for you.  I want you to have experiences you never thought possible.  I want you to learn that you’re braver and stronger than you know.   Travel for your own reasons and not where a magazine tells you to go.  Go off the beaten path and scare yourself.  Challenge what you know and think how you can become a better person because you travelled.

I have flown well over a million miles.  Does this make me special?  Quite frankly the answer is no.  In the literal sense, I received two luggage tags from American Airlines for that milestone.  There is no meaning in that.  I overheard someone once say I jet across the world because I am trying to find myself.  To that I say, I did not know I was lost.  I have even heard I am having a wild love affair in London.  Aside from the shallow notion of that statement, I can only say – “Yes, I am having an affair; an affair with London.”

There is meaning in a journey.  A journey is not just A to B, it is also the in between.  A journey is the moments, and the memories, and glimpses of a time gone by.  What I feel, the colours of the world, the taste of the air, and the lives touched along the way – including mine.  A journey is making new connections to a place, and to cultures foreign to my own.  It is a change of perception.  A journey is finding myself on the path less travelled.  It is cautious steps and giant leaps of faith.

A journey is taking time, taking a breath, charting my own course, and being a part of a story worth telling.

A journey is reaching the end, and then discovering I am only half way there…  For a free spirit like myself, this is of the utmost importance.

Why do you travel?

That said, you might like Extending Boundaries, a travel video showing how travel can lead to personal growth.