Thursday, May 2, 2013

Travel More with Less

We’re getting more inquiries from people planning their summer trip to Alaska.  I’m often asked for ideas on what to do, see, and where to go.  So I thought I'd share an adaptation of a post from zenhabits, some great ideas for meaningful journeys.   

Travel is about getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing things you’ve never tried before.

Start Local. First try changing your mindset. The purpose of travel is to see new things and experience new cultures. Many people think that in order to see things they’ve never seen before they need to travel far afield but that’s not true. Find out more about your local area. Anywhere within a two or three hour drive should be fair game for a weekend trip. If you’ve got longer you can extend your range further.
First head to your local library or get on the Internet for ideas of things to see and do close to home. There are probably some walks, caves, rivers, lakes, forests or waterfalls or a B&B that you’ve never visited before but have always wanted to. Pick one and make sure you check it out as soon as possible.

Travel Light.  Even in Alaska where the climate can be chilly in the summer, don’t pack more than you can carry in one trip from the car.  We’re casual to the extreme here, jeans with no holes will be smart enough for any venue.  Layers of light-weight clothing and a good raincoat, two pairs of shoes if you must, and really, nobody cares if you wear that shirt two days in a row.  
Yes, we have internet in Alaska now, but try leaving technology behind this time. You don’t have to update your facebook page while you’re on vacation.  Try to make the memories last until you return home.  Jot a few notes in a journal or on a map, send yourself a postcard reminding yourself of a special sight or moment.
See and feel your travel experiences through your natural senses, not always through your camera lens. 

Sight-Seeing. There’s a lot of store set by seeing the big sights, like going on a flightseeing trip around the Alaska Range, or chartering a fishing boat, or touring the Native Heritage Museum. But these things tend to be expensive. They’re big-ticket items so limit yourself to one at the most per trip.
Some of the best things have no entry charge and there are plenty of lesser known attractions which may be free or low cost like hanging out on the bench outside Nagley’s, watching the Arctic Terns down by the river, hiking the X-Y Lakes trails, or reading through the historical books at Fireweed Station. All fun, interesting, and easy on the budget too. You get the idea, don’t feel you have to spend big on the main tourist attractions. That’s all they are, you can learn more by hanging out with the locals.                                                                                           
When it comes to meals watch where the locals eat, don’t head straight to the touristy restaurants or the ones you saw on TV. Street food can be excellent and extremely cheap too, pick stalls that are poplar with the locals, watch what they order and get the same. 

Relax. This is the top tip. Too often a vacation or travel becomes a check-list of things to do. Promise yourself that you’ll stop trying to tick things off just for the sake of it.
For example, if you make it to Paris then visiting the tourist attractions needn’t be your top priority. You won’t see many French people paying to climb the Eiffel Tower. They’re all sitting in the cafes having a short black coffee (the cheapest option) and people watching. Or you can join them wandering free of charge around the parks, visiting the local markets and walking along and over the bridges of the River Seine.

Just travel to get to your destination and then be. Stop rushing. Relax, enjoy and see what happens. Travel is all about getting rid of your agenda and going with the flow, allowing a little spontaneity into your life.

Inviting you to do nothing at Fireweed Station.