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. Beautiful! I’ve just had a baby and I’m guessing that it’ll be a good few years before I get to travel again or travel like I used to – but now I dream to not only travel to all the places I still want to but also I hope that my son grows up to be child of the world 🙂

    • Congratulations on the baby! 🙂 I have a young son too, and it definitely changes things. Travel is more challenging now, definitely, but, man, I wouldn’t trade my son for all the travel in the world. 🙂 I too look forward to the day that I can travel regularly with my son and I can show him all these beautiful places. I hope you and your family will have such awesome travel adventures in the future. 🙂

    • Thank you! There’s definitely nothing wrong with keeping a list and ticking each country off one by one, but I agree with you, it can be expensive and stressful. I don’t like the pressure! 🙂 Although I know some people can do it without necessarily feeling pressure to do the whole list. Other people just resolve to go somewhere new every year (or every month, or every other year) and I much prefer that. 🙂 Happy travels!

  2. I agree with you 100% but I have to admit that, once, I ventured out of the airside zone at Dubai airport only because I wanted the friggin’ stamp on the passport… And I’ve stapled the flimsy paper they give you in Hong Kong because they don’t stamp you in anymore.

    …it’s a drug, y’ know.

  3. You embody and embrace the spirit of the journey. It’s refreshing. And it’s people like you that I love writing about in my blog because they are simply travelers in search of nothing but themselves.

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  5. you have a passionate heart!! I remember I discovered your blog after looking at some photos from Venice… but I really started following your blog after reading a poem you’ve written… which was very open and strong… now I see the same here, especially in the part about the home worth returning to… I LOVE that part so much I would gladly follow the same manifesto 🙂

    • Thank you Alex! I know of people who consider the road their home and that’s a wonderful thing, but my own sense of home is strongly tied to a place and to people, and I hope I can give my family roots that are as deep. I wish the same for your own family as well!

  6. “I will challenge myself. I will talk to locals and fellow travelers even though I usually keep to myself. 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 stay in the moment”
    Great advice! Thank you. Be well, Tracey

  7. This is the post that had me following your blog. Both its thoughtful content and your excellent writing.
    Thanks for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey, both inner and outer.
    I do so hope you get to travel again soon. I can feel how much your soul would soar from the experience.

  8. I usually read through a few( not to say many) posts before deciding to follow a new blog but in your case, after reading your awesome traveling manifesto I’ve made an exception that I’m sure i won’t regret.

      • Thank you for the wonderful writing, and I’m happy I made you smile. I’ve always loved smiles, and believe they are magical ever since I was 6 or 7 and heard the song written by Charles Chaplin

        “Smile even though it’s breaking
        When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
        If you smile through your fear and sorrow
        Smile and maybe tomorrow
        You’ll see the sun come shining through for youLight up your face with gladness
        Hide every trace of sadness
        Although a tear may be ever so near
        That’s the time you must keep on trying
        Smile, what’s the use of crying?
        You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
        If you just smile”

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      • Thank you, and yes I claim it na 2015 will be a year full of travels. Kahit local lang talaga. 😀 I am following your advice on how to save for your travel fund. 😀

  10. I love this! Very inspiring. I have something similar focusing on experiences in Countries rather than traveling to a new country for the sake of it. I even have a criteria on how to make a country count 🙂

      • No I haven’t blogged about it yet, but it is basically just about experiences and none of this “I visited Singapore airport so that’s another country!” business 🙂 One of my friends even counts Hong Kong as a country just to get her country count up!

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  12. I just found this one. Wow this is so beautiful. Although I must admit I am guilty of some of the things you vowed not to do/ think/say lol! Kasi dito sa Texas (or parts of America) maraming walang alam tungkol sa ibang tao o kultura ng mga taga ibang bansa dahil kasi di sila lumalakbay. Ok Lang naman kung kuntento sila to stay in their little town, kaso what I can’t stand is the racism. And that stems from their ignorance. But I love this post and I will make sure I will keep it in mind from now on

    • I agree about some people staying ignorant because they haven’t traveled. Even here in the Philippines, there have been stories of people from other parts of the country going to Manila and being told “Galing kang X? May kuryente ba dun??” 🙂 I think what I meant to say was that if someone hasn’t been able to travel, that doesn’t necessarily doom her/him to a lifetime of ignorance or prejudice. Travelers often quote Mark Twain’s “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things CANNOT be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” and that’s what I have a bit of an issue with. I think people who stay in one place all their lives and never travel CAN still have broad, wholesome, charitable views, by reading for example.

  13. “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.” What a brilliant sum-up! This made me cheerful on a blue evening. Might end up catching a midnight train now…

  14. This seriously might be the best thing I’ve ever read. I’m sure it’s something that resonates with every traveler (and every person, really) and is a very refreshing travel-related post. Just what I needed to hear!! I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing 🙂

  15. You gave a big, generous heart that brings light and joy around you. To see the world from your perspective, with all its hopes and dreams…breathtakingly beautiful. Wishing you tons of blessings and travels that enriches the soul…

  16. salute to humility.. been always inspired of travels, and of others who’ve been to countless,,me, somebody from tight resources-this is a thank you – “I just don’t want to feel like I’ve left behind the rat race and joined the passport stamp race”

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  20. I totally am on board. We have very similar philosophies/ approaches to travel. Its funny but JUST today someone asked me how many countries I have been to and it was the first time I counted.One of my favorite things to do in any country is to talk to locals, as much as possible. Be friendly, interact, and to learn as much as possible about new cultures.


    • Hi Peta! I’ve just spent a good part of the last hour reading your blog. I love what you guys do! All the best to you and Ben. xx

      • Thank you, so happy to hear that. I eould be honored to have you “follow” our blog. I think you will really enjoy the latest posts on culture and gender bending!


    • Hi busyandfab! Thank you for your kind words. And I’ve been browsing your blog and I love it, I love your outfits. That’s one of the things I like about going to other countries, getting to dress up, especially for colder weather, so I can relate to your posts even though I don’t ordinarily get to wear stuff like that. I love how you convinced yourself to buy the tweed jacket! 😀 Great job with your blog. xx

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