As most of you know, my travel style is a little different from the usual.
When I say a little… I mean a lot.
From my perspective, I’d say that it’s becoming more popular to travel in a “free” manner. People are starting to take some awesome travel resources seriously that aren’t usually the most traditionally accepted.
They’re starting to look into Couchsurfing—a free app and network that is used to find locals to stay with in any given area. They’re even starting to dip their toes into Craiglist Rideshare—a space within Craigslist where you basically make a “wanted” ad for where you need to go and wait for a response from a willing stranger. People are ready to hit the road with almost no money in their pockets and work as they go. It’s game changing. Check out how I use these non-traditinal approaches to crafting my travels.
This mode of travel gives more people access to travel and allows them to experience their time on the road in a new way. I could go on and on about how magnificent this sort of travel can be. Even though I have felt fulfilled using these untraditional methods, the following article ironically presents a different perspective.
You can usually find me out drifting around, making it up as I go. But not this time.
I recently went on a vacation with a family that I met this summer. During that time, I ended up working for and staying with for a month in New Mexico. I met them because they were a friend of a friend who needed some help… and I’m all about that work exchange life.
Before I left New Mexico, the family asked me if I’d like to go on vacation with them… to Maui, Hawaii. I instantly said “YES!” and had to pinch myself a few times. I couldn’t wait to go to a new, beautiful place with beautiful people. I knew that I would have the opportunity to get to know them, and a tropical little corner of the world, in a deeper way.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I honestly had a blast. My first thought was that I hadn’t gone on vacation in a long time. My way of travel is usually unplanned, hard work, and doing things by myself. This experience would be totally different.
We ended up doing some really touristy things that, in the past, I may have rolled my eyes at. I was surprised by how much solid fun I had experienced by doing things planned, with a group, and in full-out tourist style.
Here are some of those things:
Before going “under da sea” in Maui, I had only been snorkeling once before. I had somehow forgotten that this world, here on land, isn’t the only place that exists that I can easily step into. That is, beside my dream and meditation spaces.
A small boat took a group of us out away from the island to different hot spots to explore. I genuinely love and feel at home in the water, but not when I can’t see who is swimming around under me. Although I respect them, I have a fear of large individuals that live in the sea– probably because I don’t understand them.
Even though I was often checking left and right to see if anyone else was swimming around me, I let myself get lost in the colors and strange space that exists below the choppy surface.
The colors that the fish were rockin’ were intense—bright blues, yellows, whites, and oranges. We visited one place that was basically a large underwater mountain and thousands of fish were moving and exploring all around us.
Floating above them was like a mediation—I truly got lost in their brilliance and was taken back by the fact that they didn’t seem to change their behavior because of my presence. Schools of fish let me swim under, over and through them. I was easily reminded of the beauty of all earth’s creatures, even the tiny ones that are usually out of human view.
There was one thing that I didn’t get about the snorkel tour, though. Everyone on the boat was oooing and ahhing about how beautiful the animals were that we were witnessing. They were asking questions about what they could do to help save the oceans and expressing their love of the earth. Meanwhile, they were munching on dead animals whose bodies were squished between bread.
The tour guide was awesome at being a navigator but not at how one can save the ocean, considering that he had a “tuna” wrap in hand. It was really messed up how no one was making the connection between their impact on the environment, and the death of individuals as they continued to consume flesh and stolen animal products.
I was taken back when the tour guide started to talk about all the “fishing” that they did and recommending the best “seafood” places to eat.
What. The. Heck.
I had to remind myself that I can offer up information, but I can’t force others to make the connection.
Even though I was grossed out with the violence involved, I allowed myself space to really take in my very unusual surroundings and just keep swimming, as they say. I feel I should mention that before we went out, I failed to do my research about how snorkeling can effect the environment. Here’s some information that I would take into consideration in the future.
Before we move on to the next activity, I have to share one of the NEATEST things about snorkeling with you! While underwater, I heard a whining, almost singing—and couldn’t figure out who or where it was coming from.
With a little discussion, we later realized that we were hearing the whales communicating with each other! It was ah-mazing to think that I was close enough (although the sounds can travel super far) to hear them. I was sharing the same space with massive and incredible creatures. Never have my ears heard anything like it; nor will my brain forget it.
2. Zip Lining
The second touristy activity that we did was zip lining in the rainforest.
Once again, it was cool to be in a completely new environment, swinging around with a bird’s eye view. I can really appreciate an adrenaline rush, so being a little nervous to be off the ground served me well.
My most favorite part of our experience was the tour guides. They really went out of their way to show love, offer care, and provide any support needed. I don’t just mean customer service. It was just who they are as human guides.
I was thrilled when one of the guides contacted me and traveled to spend some hours with us on the beach the following day. Our energies vibed so well that I was completely content, relaxed, and refueled after having a deep conversation about the current state of the world and how we can practice (or in my case, work at practicing) unconditional love.
My favorite thing about zip lining didn’t end up being the actual zipping around it’s self, but the energy given by the people. I’m happy to report that I now have a new pen pal from Hawaii!
3. What’s SUP?
While in Rome, you do as the Romans do, right? While at the hotel, we did what the hotelers did and grabbed some SUP boards. My friend, Lynnie, and I ended up sharing a board as we both decided to ignore the advice, “Don’t go out to far! It can be difficult to get back.”
“Back shmack,” we thought. We took our time and drifted far out. We were carried away from the hotel and away from the shore. We took time to take up space on the board, soak in the sun’s rays, and check out the underwater settings from the board above. When we were ready to go back, we started paddling, taking turns, and switching positions every so often.
We were laughing (and kicking ourselves) when it seemingly took years to make it back. It felt as though we were gaining zero distance with 110% effort. As I write here on my computer, comfortable and dry, I can happily report that we made it back! Although, I do miss the sweet rocking of the ocean waves.
4. Mosey Around
What else do tourists like to do, usually? Consume, consume, consume. While I’m not a fan of that, I am a fan of plant-based chocolate chip cookies and veggies bowls. On our down time, we took a trolley to the only plant-based vegan friendly restaurant called A’a Roots.
It was cozy, cute, and earthy. Oraganic, one might say. It was a huge breath of fresh air to be able to choose anything from the menu without having to question all of the ethics behind the food.
I genuinely enjoyed strolling downtown, looking at the trees and little shops, checking out the plant-based restaurant, and exploring our own hotel. Although it wasn’t my usual travel setting, I decided that I could really get used to the view.
5. The Watching of Whales
The same company that took us snorkeling also provided us with the experience of watching whales. Once again, I didn’t think to research the impact that the Whale Watching Industry has on the individuals being watched. Here’s what I would take into consideration next time.
We spent a couple hours listening to the radio signals and then moving the boat to wherever the whales were. While we were out, there were multiple males fighting over a female. This meant that there was consistently some type of activity in front of us. Watching their tails come out of the water and then gracefully get pulled back was a majestic experience. But that wasn’t even the best part.
Not only did I get to watch whales but I saw some dolphin individuals as well. On our way back to shore, we stopped to let them pop up around the boat, swim beside us, and cheered as they leapt out of the ocean. At one point, I was encouraged to stick my hand and GoPro underwater to see if I could get any good footage. And… the results are in below!
After I was slightly emotionally drained from witnessing so much beauty that day, we started to head back to the shore. The waves were surprisingly choppy. We propelled forward quickly but I had the best seat in the house, on the front edge of the boat.
We got thrown around, tossed and juggled, and almost ended up overboard a couple times. I was feeling like a true kid, just taking in every moment, every bump, and finding the whole experience hysterical. I laughed until I swore I had visible abs. I laughed even harder when I saw the faces of the other scared passengers.
When I couldn’t feel my leg anymore from all of the bumps and pounding, I decided it was time to take a safer seat. When we got back to shore, I couldn’t help but smile and reflect on how fun it really can be to play tourist for a day.
It’s not all about what activities you decide experience, but how you craft your experience of the activities.
Are you ready to create your own travel magic?
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