The Traveler, the Tourist and Finding Purpose

The Traveler, The Tourist and Finding Purpose

I believe that there is a fine line between the “tourist” and the “traveler” , but despite their differences, all travelers must start out as tourists.

The tourist has a plan, they wish to see attractions, go to the beach, stay in hotels, take photos for social media, and are perfectly content with returning home after a week or two. While traveling, the tourist still seek the comforts they are used to. Mind you, this lifestyle isn’t better or worse than nomadic travel or working a 9-5. It’s just different. I seek solely to compare, not criticize.

For a while the traveler is still a tourist. We are afraid to give up our old life.  Everything is

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A local Thai Market

new and strange. But then there is this one moment when the tourist becomes the traveler. It’s a magical eureka moment when you realize that this is your life and you are not going home. I’m not sure how else to describe it… You just feel welcome anywhere, traveling doesn’t seem foreign anymore. Artifacts become less meaningful but people and experiences become a 100 times more so. I go with the flow, living for spontaneous adventures even if they are not “Instagram worthy”. Sometimes a great adventure is turning a corner and finding a new food stall not seen before.  I can not stay in one place for too long.   I don’t have a comfort zone, I talk to locals, stray from the path, and learn. The life of a traveler is simple, but rewarding.

Don’t get me wrong, this lifestyle isn’t perfect. Travelers yearn to travel for something, which the tourists have, a reason to go. Finding ourselves? Inspiring others? We are searching endlessly for a reason that what we are doing has a purpose. We long to be apart of something bigger than ourselves. Finding what this is is that eureka moment.

When it comes to the birth lottery I do think I lucked out on being a native English speaker. In our increasingly global world it gives me endless opportunities, for which I am thankful. It also gives me the opportunity to teach others what I know, which is a way of giving back to say thank you. For many kids, knowing English is the difference between living below the poverty line and far above it. And that is what I have been doing for the past few weeks. It feels empowering to be able to share knowledge, or at least inspire kids to want to learn. Teaching is that thing that gives purpose to my travels. It is what I feel has switched my mindset from tourist to traveler after being on the road for six months now.

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ABC’S !!

We have been living in a small province in northern Thailand called Uttaradit. Many of the kids here have never even seen foreigners before. Our experience in the small community was amazing. Teaching gave us a place in the community which made our experience so much more memorable. Everyone was extremely welcoming. We discovered places far off the tourist track. Strangers said hello. The security guard at the supermarket became our friend. People invited us to their houses and gave us food. Countless people stopped on the side of the road to ask if we were lost and needed help. Locals took our photos everywhere from the grocery store to waking down the street. The kindness of complete strangers was unbelievable – and after a little while they no longer seemed like strangers but like friends.

I may have only taught the kids a little English, but in return they taught me kindness, confidence, determination and respect for everyone. In the future, I do hope to make teaching English a part of my life. We leave in a few days for some new adventures but our experiences in Uttaradit will not be forgotten.

Get out there, find your eureka moment, and as always happy travels. 🙂 xx  -Iz

 

Wandering Through Bangkok

Recently I wrote another article for Wanderingeducators.com about Bangkok, Thailand. It encompasses the sites, smells, and tastes that make the city one of a kind. Here is the beginning of the article.  (Read the full article here)

Wandering Through Bangkok, Thailand

To my left, tuk-tuks and moped drivers zoom by faster than I can say sawatdee ka (hello). To my right, the street is lined with hundreds of stalls of delicious smelling Thai food and handcrafted goods. Towering above my head are metal giants – skyscrapers. There is only one place I could be: Bangkok.

Nestled above the Bay of Thailand is Bangkok, the modern and vibrant, yet still traditional, capital city of Thailand. The city is a unique place where western influences and traditional Thai culture intertwine to create the tastes, sounds, smells, and sights that can only be found here.

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Read the rest here on wanderingeducators.com 

What’s in My Backpack – After 6 months of full time travel

If you are a traveler I’m sure that you relate to the nightmare that is packing. What to take? what to leave? What if I forget something?? Over six months of travel I have gained a little experience on what is absolutly necessary to bring and what I’m able to live without. I hope you find these tips helpful when packing for your own adventure.

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In reality you really only need about half of the gear you think you need. Really, and this is coming from a 16-year-old girl. My backpack weighs a whopping  6-8 kilos, sometimes less depending on the airline carry on restrictions of the month. Right now we are traveling by train so it weighs a solid 8 kilos (17 pounds).

Generally for packing clothing I try to follow the rule of 3’s. Three types of each clothing. Wear one, wash one, dry one. The pros are that my backpack is super light and I never have to do much laundry. The cons are I need to wear things more than once and fashion is not of top priority.

Remember that travelling light is a process of elimination that takes a while. Six months ago I had around 40% more stuff than I do now. I originally had around twice as much clothing. I later discovered that I wear nearly the same thing everyday. And if necessary nearly all of this can be found abroad.

Here is all the stuff I carry:

4 shirts: 1 tank top, 2 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve.

4 pairs of pants: 1 athletic short, 1 pair of jeans, 1 lightweight pants (picked a pair of these up in Thailand for 2 bucks to go into temples. I highly recommend getting a pair on site), 1 pair of warm leggings

3 pairs of socks, some undies, two bras

1 zip up sweat shirt

2 pairs of shoes: one teva sandles, one pair of running shoes

1 swimsuit

1 small towel: can be used as a pillow or blanket

1 enu nest hammock: Awesome for south/central America where hammock hanging hooks are built into many houses. 

1 inflatable sleeping pad

1 extra sheet and pillow case

Notebook and pens

toiletries: chapstick, toothbrush, toothpaste, sunblock, deodorant, small multipurpose soap (works as soap, detergent, shampoo…ect.), comb, razors, emergency tampons (an essential to carry in SE Asia where they are nearly impossible to find).

Other: headphones, passport, earplugs, emergency toilet paper (essential), poncho, nalgene water bottle, sunglasses, fan, assorted plastic bags (for laundry,camera protection in a rainstorm, trash, ect.)

basic first aid kit: ibuprofen, Benadryl, band aids, iodine, deet, wrap, gauze, aloe, super glue

electronics: chromebook laptop, Nikon DSLR (and case), fujifilm waterproof camera (and case), phone (no service so just works as an iPod), assorted chargers and cords, lens cleaner.

My packing list is in no way perfect… there are somethings that I wish I had brought including…

a rain jacket: or any lightweight jacket.

a scarf: to cover the shoulders in more conservative countries.

a sarong: this one has sooo many uses

a skirt/ dress: It would have been nice to have something that is remotely fancier than say jeans or athletic shorts.

Happy travels XX -Iz