Commentary

This is Why I Travel To Get Lost

This is Why I Travel to Get Lost
Written by Job Merkel

I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.—John Steinbeck

Travel to Get Lost

We move forward so that we can look back, compare our experiences and perspectives. I travel because I love to create. At first glance, that sentence probably doesn’t make any sense to you so let me explain. I travel because I love to see new things, meet new people, discover new cultures and because it allows me to create.

I Want to Find Myself

I feel like new worlds are always spinning inside my head. If I want to tell these stories I need to fill my thoughts with things that I’ve never seen before. It sounds cliché and overdone, but that is at the heart of the matter. It’s all about discovering something new and being able to offer a unique perspective to it.

You may hear people say they travel because they want to find new things, people, cultures. For me, all of that sounds great. But recently, I’ve realized a big part of me travels not because I want to find myself. It’s because I want to get lost. I travel to get lost.

No Map Needed

I want adventure and to not always know where I am or where I’m going. In February 2014, I booked a flight to Boracay in the Philippines for a 12-day winter vacation. But that was all I decided to book. I searched for hostels on the island just to make sure I wasn’t going during high season in which case I wouldn’t have anywhere to sleep, but I didn’t book any lodging. I winged it big time, and I’ve never made a better decision.

It was the first time I would be traveling alone. I didn’t have a map of the island. I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t have a phone that worked abroad. And you know what happened? Only good things. I went from plane to boat to rickshaw without having any real plan about where I would end up. In an attempt to make this post brief and relevant, I’ll tell you my favorite things about getting lost.

Getting away from technology

Oftentimes I rely on my phone to get where I need to go, especially in South Korea when I need a quick bit of information (bus routes, store locations, etc.) but what did people do before that? They figured it out.

There is something refreshing about making a plan with someone where you choose a time and place, and neither of you messages each other to confirm. You just show up because you made the plan and you said you would. You look for each other in the crowds, not relying on your phones to fix any miscommunication or flaw in the plan. You figure it out because you have to, and because there’s no other choice.

Meeting like-minded travelers

This can happen anywhere but sometimes you just click with people on the road more—people you’ve met for a few hours, a few days, a week. Maybe they only exist in your memory after the trip is over, maybe in a picture—maybe you exchange information and become friends on social media. Maybe the relationships fade out and slip away to memories and far-off dreams. Maybe, as time passes, you have pen pals in other parts of the world, couches to sleep on, friends to give you recommendations of where to go and what to see.

When you travel alone, every single person starts out as a stranger. They can either remain that way or become something different. Maybe it bites. Maybe it’s friendly. You never know until you know.

Having no plan

I am a very detail-oriented and organized person. I have files and folders for all my writings and I never like to let things spin out of control. But occasionally, it’s nice to let the chaos take over. Because having no plan is the closest I’ve come to having a real adventure.

Ever since my trip to the Philippines, I’ve enjoyed traveling alone, and not really making any concrete plans. I don’t know that I’ll always do that, but for now, it fits. Not knowing if I’ll take the next train, bus or airplane to city A or city B can be exhilarating, confusing, unforgettable. Of course, safety should always be a traveler’s number one priority, but sometimes the best part about traveling is getting lost.

If you like to travel, tell me about your experiences. 🙂

Do you travel to get lost? If not, why? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section below!

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About the author

Job Merkel

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