The SMALL-TOWN GIRLS, MIDNIGHT TRAINS Travel Manifesto

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I will see the world with wonder, with gratitude, with respect.
I will strive to stay, though ever moving, right in the happy middle: the intersection of longing and contentment. I will not close my eyes to the harsh realities of life and will endeavor to respond with compassion and action, but I will keep my rose-colored glasses on hand, in my carry-on, and remember to count my blessings.

I will not count how many countries I’ve been to, though I won’t think poorly of people who do. I will try to resist the temptation to count because I don’t want the number to be my motivation. I don’t want to travel just to tick a place off a list. I don’t want to say: “My name is X and I have been to Y out of Z countries,” though there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. I just don’t want to feel like I’ve left behind the rat race only to join the passport stamp race. I’m sure the number is much less than I would want it to be and much more than majority of the people in this planet will ever have the means to achieve.

I will travel because I want to, in the manner that I want to, and I will allow others the courtesy to do likewise. I hope never to catch myself saying those who can’t leave behind the comforts of home should stay home. I hope never to become the sort of person who thinks I have the right or omniscience to dictate who should and shouldn’t travel, and how. I hope never to get sucked into “traveler versus tourist,” a distinction that may have started as a well-meaning attempt to describe different levels of interaction with a place, but is now too often a none-too-subtle ploy to pat one’s own back: a traveler is me and a tourist is someone not like me. I will always endeavor to dive deep into a place, to hear the hidden drum beat to which it marches. But I will not judge those who rush from place to place, for it may be the only time they have, with the wealth they have or lack thereof, to see the places they’ve always longed to see with their own eyes. I will not be the sort of self-validating traveler who thinks he is better than people who have never been outside their hometowns. I believe — no matter what Mark Twain says — that a person who stays in one corner of the earth all his life can still be capable of “broad, wholesome, charitable views of men.” I believe a person’s passport does not define his character. And I believe people who have truly sucked the marrow of the road will have hearts too full to find fault in others.

I will challenge myself. I will talk to locals and fellow travelers even though I’m someone who usually keeps to herself. I will try to capture an experience, in words and in images, the best way I know how, but I will also take time to just savor the moment, that even if my notebook gets lost or my camera gets stolen, the memory will have been burned into my heart to keep forever.

I will not stop dreaming. Someday I will see Antarctic penguins, northern lights, Scottish highlands, cherry blossoms, sunny vineyards, gloomy cliffs, pink beaches, purple trees, glorious lions in the wild…. And I will encourage people to dream. I will never tire of telling them: someday you will see Antarctic penguins, northern lights, Scottish highlands, cherry blossoms, sunny vineyards, gloomy cliffs, pink beaches, purple trees, and glorious lions in the wild.

I will inspire by being ordinary. There are too many inspiring stories of people who leave everything behind in order to travel the world. I will tell stories of people who stay, who find contentment in what would seem a humdrum life, who work and go home and save $10 a month in their travel fund, most of the paycheck having already gone to milk for their kids and educational funds and utility bills…and who, after 10 years, finally go on a whirlwind 5-day dream trip to Paris. I will celebrate the courage of working with what you have, the heroism of looking at the banal and saying: “This is my life and I am happy with it.”

I will travel whenever I can, for as long as I can, and while doing so I will create a home worth going back to. I want to be excited to leave and happy to return. I will create such a home that when my children and my children’s children go out, in their turn, to explore the world, no matter where their feet may take them, they will always feel that the best place on earth to be is still home.

 

The SMALL-TOWN GIRLS, MIDNIGHT TRAINS Travel Manifesto” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

 

 


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207 thoughts on “The SMALL-TOWN GIRLS, MIDNIGHT TRAINS Travel Manifesto

  1. It is great that you are so moved to travel! Keep it up, traveling is amazing. Seeing the world with your own eyes, experiencing different cultures and people. I have done it all, different continents, different sides of the world – and I would never give it up! Good luck! 🙂

  2. A pure, genuine way to travel. We travel with our heart so we will always remember every moment and every image like it happened yesterday. We travel to enrich our soul and help us be the best person we can ever be. All the best to you and your family!

  3. Pingback: “Foolish Compassion” – The 19th of September 1993 – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania | Forgotten Correspondence

  4. I’ve always thought travelling not only sates my need for change but it also bridens my horizon. I love travelling. I love meeting new cultures, cuisines, sight-seeing, just feeling the foreign atmosphere. Plus, when will I travel if not now? When I might be old and sick?

  5. “I hope never to get sucked into “traveler versus tourist,” a distinction that may have started as a well-meaning attempt to describe different levels of interaction with a place, but is now too often a none-too-subtle ploy to pat one’s own back.”

    YES! I completely agree. The traveler/tourist debate is ridiculous. Everyone is different, so why shouldn’t our travel experiences be different too?

    • Absolutely. When I was just starting this blog, I read a lot of other travel blogs and I noticed that “tourists” tended to get the short end of the stick. I remember planning a 10-day European trip with my sister, and in the beginning we entertained the idea of visiting 10 countries in 10 days because we had no idea when we would ever get back to Europe. We didn’t go ahead with that plan, but that’s why I do know from experience that some people rush from place to place not because they’re shallow people but simply because they don’t know whether they will ever be able to afford to come back. And other people have other reasons. I just kind of feel sorry for people trying to make the most of their vacation, the best way they know how, and being judged for it.

  6. Practical and balanced – with great understanding that it takes all sorts to make a world … with all sorts of travelers You opened my eyes to a different kind of ‘acceptance’ …… thanks!!

  7. Your philosophy is fantastic! Each point is excellent on its own, but I particularly like that you will Inspire by Being Ordinary. It really resonated with me because there is such beauty in the ordinary. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed – your words are beautiful and inspiring. Wishing you all the best on you journeys, Terri

  8. I hope never to become the sort of person who thinks I have the right or omniscience to dictate who should and shouldn’t travel, and how.
    Loved this part the most. Nice write up, actually I felt that a falling feather was speaking those words. Definitely a “feather soul” author

  9. Hallelujah ! Great thoughts ! “I won’t stop dreaming … I’ll encourage people to dream ….that’s beautiful….check out my weblog I’ll be happy to see you there and have your open opinion. I’m writing an Ebook single , and it will be publish soon. One section is ” Living in dreams”…
    http://Www.asilentashout.wordpress.com
    See you there.
    Dariush Youkhaneh

  10. Worthy creeds indeed. Although I have been on many sorts of trips, I remember them all with fondness. No matter if it was a second’s glance out a bus window at an Austrian castle, or six months living on the same street in the Australian outback, these marvellous sights are all still with me, For it is the impression that creates the memories, not the amount of time you spent staring at it. That, fortunately, is why I have few memories of math class, but hundreds of vending machines.

  11. The last paragraph was the key, the most valuable point of all for me personally. Thank you for putting in plain words the deep feelings and thoughts I have about travelling, while my own are scattered all over my brain 🙂

  12. For the love of travelling and more 🙂 such a beautiful write up, all those emotions come out live and I felt like somebody just put my feelings into words there! Kudos 🙂

  13. This is so beautiful 🙂 already got me thinking about not giving up on my dream to visit Denmark, I fell in love with that European country just by reading a book about how the Danes celebrate Christmas, and it truly looks magical 🙂 thanks for sharing this.

  14. I loved the manifesto. One line in particular spoke to me while reading it: “I will always endeavor to dive deep into a place, to hear the hidden drum beat to which it marches.” This reminds me of what I am trying to do in my own blog, LOCUS: A journey in search of PLACE. You might be interested in checking it out at http://kerrinicolecasey.wordpress.com
    I will be following, and look forward reading more of what you have to say!

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