Sometimes It seems people think I have a secret basement where I hide all the amazing places I sometimes write about. And just don’t tell anyone …
Someone told me once that walking in the street with me anywhere in the world is a different feeling. It’s like walking with a professional traveler, whose radar is primed and working and just knows where, when, what (and what not) and how much.
It was one of most meaningful compliments I got in my life. And he said it like it was so obvious, like there wasn’t even a reason to mention it.
(Thank you natty!).
And I wish it were true. But the truth is it isn’t.
Truth is I have no idea where to go.
Just like you :-).
And maybe much more. I’m such a clueless dreamer, that even when I try, and check online, and ask people, I still always get to a new place completely clueless.
And not just that, I usually only decide where to go at the very last minute, so anyway I don’t have time to prepare.
I usually land in “The Unknown” every time again.
So how do I manage to find those amazing places?
The reason I wrote that introduction and told you so much about myself, is that the very fact that I’m like this that allows me to find and to know where to go.
Actually, it’s in the destinations I came most clueless to that I found he most amazing places and most exciting experiences.
1. Because I love this lifestyle so much, I’ll always keep reading just another snippet and another small article and another status on Facebook about interesting places. It’s not even something I decide, it just happens, without me even noticing. And so it happens that the knowledge does gather somehow. Something stays. And they sit there, small supposedly meaningless little details. Until the moment I really need them- and at that moment, they come forth and it looks like I actually know and understand…
2. For that reason, I’m always happy to catch travelers for a conversation, short as it may be, on where they come from and places they’ve been. Not long ago, for example, I met three travelers in Pokhara, Nepal. They spoke a strange language. Immediately I went to them and asked them where are they from (I do that a lot…). Apparently they’re from Burma. Wow, Burma, now that’s a place I’d love going to. So where should I go? How is it there? Know any cool un-touristic places? And what about costs? …here let me add you on Facebook. Roni, my 14 year old daughter, already wrote down a few names of places (they showed them to us on google images).
Now, maybe I really want to visit Burma, but it’s not really part of the plan right now. On the other hand, you never know. I got interesting information and I’m keeping it. In five minutes of conversation, Burma became that much clearer to me. Where to land, what’s from the east and what’s from the west, where’s the ocean, and what about that island they recommended I visit. And I made three new friends :-).
3. To most destinations I arrive with a clean slate. And that’s how I like it. And instead of searching online for hours, I just go with the flow of the place, with the opportunities, with the locals, with the knowledge already kept in some compartment with me or with other travelers that already walked those roads. I never ask people if I should go somewhere. Or what is there to do there. I’ll find that out on my own. I ask practical questions. Which area is the best to stay in, how to get there…
4. I trust myself. Because I’m clueless, and most of my time is spent learning the place, its ways, its pearls. That’s how I know that’s the fun part. The most interesting. And that it’s all going to be fine. I don’t give up.my faith that pearls can be found anywhere is what guides me, so even if sometimes it seems that we arrived a place that’s too expensive and boring (and it happened before), we’ll plow it, and enter the narrow alleys and sit with the street cobblers and local fisherman and hear stories from them about people and places and from there to eat with them… the adventure is just beginning :-).
5. I really do love it. And you can’t discover things like that without really loving it.
Please don’t be mad at me when I email you to just forget about the internet and go explore yourself. The best places you won’t find online. Trust me on this.
Book a place online for the first 2-3 nights. Give yourself some time to explore. And just flow from there.
There’s nothing like thorough footwork to get to know the destination you arrived at. I know it’s not what you want to hear. In an age where the pinnacle of achievement is measured in how close to your destination you parked, footwork is almost a swearword. But in my opinion you can’t cut corners on that. You’re always welcome to get on passing scooter or explore the country roads on a motorbike. So long as you get to the small places, like water slowly pouring, seeping into every crease in the roadmap of wherever you find yourself.
Wait with the attractions. Save them for the end.
Accept the speedbumps as part of the experience, even if they seem hard to process at the moment. Flow with them.
To be stuck at 2am, in a taxi on a dark road, three hours away from Kathmandu with the ground still shaking four days after the earthquake, with a blown tire. and no spare. And my flight to Israel is departing at 6am… (Even managed a shower in Kathmandu eventually)… to find myself in 10pm, in the Indian Himalayas, wrapped in blankets in my bed inside a tent (a tent!) at 4,500m (15,000ft) above sea level with subzero temperatures… (in the morning we woke up to stunning views)… try fix some flatbread with olive oil, and fresh blueberries from the bushes by the river for breakfast on the fifth day of a journey that was only supposed to take three, with the food supply running out, on the Siberian border in the remote reindeer country… (Flatbread with olive oil and blueberries is a delicacy after petting reindeers)… to find myself in the dark, with my whole body hurting, after an exhausting 10 hour trek, in a filthy room with mud walls, on a straw mattress with the kids on the ground, in a remote village in Zanskar valley in Kashmir (as it turns out the Chai was amazing and the family that hosted us was so nice that Gali, my youngest daughter, didn’t even want to leave…)…
Trust yourself. You can’t discover these places you dream about without the faith that you’ll find them. Yourself. Come with confidence, with curiosity and with genuine love. Project that over to your kids, so that they too, in their time, will carry confidence and love with them everywhere they go.