~ Finding the Baja Vibe ~
I hung our laundry out on a clothesline to dry this morning. The last time I remember having laundry out on the line was when we lived in the Caribbean during my childhood and then on the Kansas farm when I was really little. It seems simple, right? Maybe even sounds to like a pain? To hang the clothes on a laundry line instead of tossing them in the dryer. But honestly, there was something so inviting about it. I had time to think, I enjoyed the smell of the freshly laundered sheets and towels, I enjoyed the cool morning breeze, listened to the birds chirping and so on. For 10 minutes, I slowed down, I stepped away from the technology of the computer, got out of the camper and had these quiet, simple moments to myself.
This is just another step in the direction of the Baja Vibe that we talk about in our video this week. Although as I mentioned in the video, I think it might be called the international travel vibe or something maybe a little more appealing than that, I’ll keep thinking on it. The point is, there are places on this planet where life moves at a slower pace, something a little south of the 110 miles per hour that we all run at home. Your meals take a little longer to be served to you, there’s a little more time between your salad and your entree, it’s okay to take the time to sit and watch the sunrise with your cup of coffee and the sunset with your cocktail, all in the same day. You start driving a little slower, you start noticing the little things like the birds in the trees, the cows meandering down the path behind your rig with their bell jangling along the way, the little kids playing and giggling.
You find time to write some notes in your journal, to read a few of the books that have been sitting on your list of must-reads for months. You just have TIME! Something that we all feel we are lacking when we are at home and in the midst of the hustle and bustle. I don’t know about you but even when we travel Stateside, we feel in a hurry and that’s probably just us, I don’t know? It takes leaving for us to slow down.
Finding ourselves in another country though always changes our perspective, maybe it’s the newness of it as well, the desire to take it all in and to do so, you must slow down.
So here are a few of the things we do when traveling to feel like we have more time, to feel like we connect more with our surroundings and with each other, to feel like we are doing it justice and taking it all in.
1. Limit TV. Isn’t it amazing how the boob tube can just suck up hours and hours of the day? When you’re traveling in your own rig, it’s easy to just go inside at night and turn the TV on instead of enjoying your surroundings, each other and other people. We were so guilty of this when we still owned Nellie, we had comfy recliners and a crazy DVD collection, so it was the easy choice. Since we’ve moved into Denny, we’ve been reminded of the beauty of living out of the rig, instead of in it and we spend time out by the fire or some other activity instead.
2. Sit outside. Well, this goes hand in hand with number one, but it’s such a treat to embrace the great outdoors, to breathe the fresh air and take the world around you in. Especially in the modern days of technology, it’s so easy to never really look up and see the beauty around you, unless it’s to capture the latest pic for Instagram and then there’s an element of living in the moment that is lost.
3. Bring a journal. When I was in the 8th grade, my family spent a month backpacking Europe. I did my school work while we traveled and my history teacher’s only assignment for me was to keep a daily journal of the trip. I have her to thank for having formed this habit in me bc years later I have all of my journals, ones that I’ve kept during and outside of travel since I was 14 years old. The only thing sweeter than experiencing your travels the first time is to relive them years later by reading what you wrote on each trip. You see how the travel transforms you, how you’re a different person at the end of that particular journey and what you’ve carried forward with you. It’s also another stop-gap to help you slow down and take it all in as you decide how to fill those pages with your story each day.
4. Be social. I write this article in the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic, so right now perhaps we shouldn’t heed this particular bit of advice, but under normal circumstances, meeting new people both local and fellow travels is a key to really immersing yourself in the journey. Some will become life long friends, some will be part of the stories you tell when you return home, some will offer assistance in a time of need and some will just be fun. Regardless of the role they play, each one will enhance your journey, so don’t miss out!
5. Don’t over plan. Boy, I can’t stress this one enough, but it’s okay to live in the moment a bit. Sure read ahead, know that you want to go to this town or book that activity, but then allow the trip to unfold and present the little hidden gems that you will no doubt find along the way. Leave time in your schedule for times when you decide you just want to stay one more night, turn down that road that you want to explore and aren’t necessarily sure where it goes. You don’t know what’s there until you ARE there, so leave room for the surprises you find on your journey.
6. Read. This one probably isn’t for everybody but I’m an avid bookworm and given the opportunity, I could spend days reading books. The summer between my junior and senior year of college, my mom suggested I take the summer off, not work or take any classes. She said it would be my last summer where I didn’t have to be a grown-up and I should enjoy it. So I did and I traveled and visited friends and went to the beach and had a grand time, but I also spent days just reading, I still remember the piles of books next to my bed that I had bought at the outlet bookstore (this was back in the day before Kindles when we read our books on paper), one pile for the finished books and one pile for the new books. It was one of the most simple but enjoyable summers of my life. Now anytime I can steal away to read beyond the standard reading at bedtime, I am one happy camper. It doesn’t have to be reading, though. Maybe you knit or crochet, maybe you whittle wood, fish, paint, write...whatever your hobbies are, enjoy them while you’re slowing down.
7. Go for walks. You see so much more when you walk than when you ride in the car. You engage so many more of your senses, you smell the foods from the restaurants, maybe the flowers growing alongside the road, you hear the foreign language spoken, the dogs barking, the vehicles rumbling by, you feel the heat or the humidity, the cold or even the raindrops. Sometimes you can even stop for a snack and have a taste of a new food you’ve never tried before. You can learn so much about a place that you otherwise miss if you just take a simple walk.
8. Try new things. This encompasses so many possibilities. You might decide to go parasailing or do a Discover Scuba course. You may take a cooking class or join a language immersion program. There are always new foods to try, new people to meet, new places to visit and things to LEARN! This is your chance to step outside of what’s normal comfortable to you and give it a whirl!
9. Get lost. You can do this on foot or in your vehicle, though if you drive something that won’t easily make a u-turn, I’d suggest tackling this on foot. I especially love to do this in Europe because it’s so walkable and getting lost down little alleyways always leads to adventure and treasure, but it’s doable anywhere and rarely are you not rewarded for your curiosity.
10. Slow down. I think by now I’ve made this one pretty obvious. But I’ll reiterate it. We move at lightning speed these days, information floods our phones so quickly, it can sometimes take your breath away. You can’t ever escape being available to everyone in life via the cell phone you are tethered to 24/7 nowadays. We drive fast, we eat fast, we don’t sleep enough, half the time we do things on autopilot to the point that we don’t even remember we’ve done them because we are multi-tasking or thinking about the next item on the to-do list. Travel is a time to reverse these habits. Yes, we all typically experience a 24 to 48 hour period of withdrawal, but the freedom one feels by working on one task at a time, turning the phone off or unplugging in whatever way applies to our individual lives, enhances our travel experience, helps us to be better humans, better spouses, better parents, better children, better friends. It reminds us of what truly matters in life and, in the end, that’s what it’s all about - to discover what’s important at the end of the day and it just feels good!