As published on Total Fitness December 2011 issue. Grab a copy today! Christmas season may be well over but there’s still the Chinese New Year long weekend to take advantage of. So, travel away!
For most of us who spend countless hours and days fighting for survival and control in the cutthroat urban/corporate jungle, going away on a holiday is a necessity for a few different reasons: to relax and recharge our batteries, to get lost in the moment and have fun, meet new romantic partners or seal the bond with current beaus, or to simply take ourselves away from the chores and problems of our daily lives. But perhaps, the main reason why holidays are so important to us – strange though it might sound at first – is that they heighten our awareness.
For the most part, we are contained in environments that are completely familiar to us, and our lives largely consist of experiences that we keep repeating everyday. But when we go on a holiday, we are transported to a whole new dimension. The beaches, the mountain tops, the fields, foreign buildings and streets and the different food, language and culture are more real to us. They are all so new and different that we pay them much more attention. As a result we become more present than we are at home. We spend less time immersed in the ‘thought-chatter’ in our minds, or giving our attention to distractions like TV or the Internet. Why would you want to stay in your hotel room and watch TV when you can sit in a beach café and watch the boats going by, or go for a walk along the ancient city streets? Why would you give your attention to the chattering worries inside your head when there are so many stimulating and beautiful sights and sounds to soak ourselves in?
Going on a holiday takes us to that state of natural mindfulness, where we pay complete attention to our experiences and develop the kind of fresh, ‘first-time’ vision we used to have as young kids.
Taking a break is one thing but maximizing the perks of your holiday is another. Because now there are tons of options to consider, it becomes more imperative to make wise and informed decisions without having to kill the thrill of spontaneity – which is also what taking a holiday is about. To make sure you get all your money and time’s worth when planning for your holiday, consider these tips:
- Budget travel is NOT synonymous to bad travel. In fact, not only do you get to save more money, you also get to experience some aspects of traveling you would not otherwise experience during expensive trips. I mean, sure, you get to dine in expensive restaurants and clubs, but chances are, people are less approachable in these places and there are a lot of restrictions. But once you go the cowboy way and mingle with other budget travelers (and believe me there are more of us out there!), you are guaranteed to have the pleasure of meeting more people you can swap stories with.
- Explore away! Now is your chance to absorb all the colors, sights, sounds, taste, and feel your body can accommodate so don’t waste it by staying in your hotel room the whole day. Check out local tours and see which ones you can join. Or if you are daring enough, make your own itinerary and throw in some random things in between.
- Document your trip using your handy point-and-shoot and make short, fun videos after. This is your chance to discover the inner photographer in you, so make sure you have extra memory card and batteries that will come in handy when you run out of either right in the middle of your exploration.
- Make one or two friends for each day of your trip and by that I mean, make it your mission to know more than just their name and what sort of work they do. Have great conversations about books, movies, sports, or anything you can find common ground on.
- Learn. Find out more about the place, it’s history, and the people by watching, observing, listening, and asking questions. Traveling should be about learning about places and people as this is also where you can learn something new, different, and surprising – about yourself.
More shameless plug: Grab a copy of this month’s Men’s Health magazine and check out my article on page 91. Here’s a quick look at the article.