Experimental Travel — Make Your Own Stories
Are you a Tourist? Or are you a Traveler?
Tourist, in its simplest definition, is a person who travels for pleasure. And there’s nothing wrong with pleasure. I like to travel for pleasure, too.
Traveler, on the other hand, is a person who journeys in search for something beyond pleasure. A traveler searches for something a little deeper into the human experience. A traveler explores places where tourism doesn’t drive the economy, or dig through the veneer of tourist destinations and find something new or unknown.
What is Experimental Travel?
Experiment is defined as a test or trial to demonstrate the truth of what is already known (Camino de Santiago is a walk of a lifetime), or to examine the hypothesis of what is waiting to be known (should you dare you can walk the Camino de Santiago), or to determine the efficacy of what is yet untried and unknown (will walking the Camino de Santiago change your life?).
So an experimental travel is a process of journeying by putting yourself at the heart of the experience. It’s taking that plunge. It’s doing it, overcoming that initial fear, whether you want to backpack across Europe, or whether you want to retreat into a Zen temple. It’s the act of immersing yourself into the unknown. It’s the only path to your self-discovery. Whether you like what you find about yourself, or not. No try. No gain.
I’ve come to believe there is something important beyond everything that makes up this visible, sensible, audible world. That something important cannot be seen or felt of heard. That something important can only be “experienced.” It’s a spark of knowing the unknown within yourself, an intuition you might call it, a seed of understanding, just for you, special something you can share with no one else.
The Premise of Experimental Travel
So take that plunge. Go for the experience. But always keep in mind that Homo sapiens are flawed beings. You are not perfect. You will stumble, you will make mistakes, and you will embarrass yourself along the way. But that’s all part of this journey. That’s all part of this path of self-discovery. That’s the essence of experimentation.
Even if you’re on a Rick Steve’s Tour (I have been on one in Turkey for two weeks; one of my best trips ever) going through the bucket-list sites, you can still take that plunge. You can still go for the experience. Use all your senses. Interact with the locals. Listen to their tales. Learn their different ways. Try their strange foods. And by doing so you will experience new emotions.
The bottom line is your outlook on life. Make yourself the protagonist of your life’s journey. Live it with an attitude of wonderment. An Experimental Traveler views life as an uncharted journey. And to get the best out of your life, you simply must break out from your comfort zone, travel to the distant lands, or even to the neighborhood communities, and search for something meaningful. It’s there for your taking. It’s hiding just behind this material world.
A Little Bit about Me and My Blog
Tony Robbins, the motivational power talker, said you must weigh your life yet to be lived against a “rocking chair test.” That is, one day when you approach the end of it all, when you’re too old, too sick, too tired, how would you reflect upon your life lived? A good question.
I don’t know about you, but when my time comes to ponder upon that rocking chair of old age, I’d rather have a pocketful of life’s journeys to keep my mind busy. You earn those nuggets of experience only if you have lived deeply.
My name is J. Almon Polk. I am a writer. Before my writing life, I was a special agent of the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). For twenty-plus years, I had traveled all over the world, carrying a badge and a gun, chasing bad guys, and bad gals, too. Arsonists, or spies, or murderers – you name them – I’ve seen them all. Twice I deployed aboard U.S. aircraft carriers, USS Independence and USS Kitty Hawk, the latter during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Before I retired, I had volunteered for a mission in the war zone of Iraq. I had to witness the war.
So let’s take a plunge. Let’s go for the experience. Let’s become a protagonist of life. Let’s dig a little deeper in tourist destinations and look for those things average tourists miss. And let’s exchange ideas. Let’s share insights of interesting landscapes, of intriguing people, of awesome journeys. Let’s try to understand who we are. Let’s try to understand what makes us different. Let’s call ourselves Experimental Travelers.