This is a guest post by Erin Myers, the first time that I’ve had one, I am humbled and honoured to have her write on my site. Thanks for your contribution to my online home.
Traveling efficiently doesn’t mean taking chunks out of your routine.
Those of us who travel often will have fallen into a sort of routine – we’ve packed our bags so often, we already know what to stuff into our suitcases and where each and every little tidbit goes. We know which buses to take or which roads and exits to drive to the airport to get there in the shortest amount of time possible, and we know which cafes to eat from at the airport. This familiarity is often what we draw comfort from when we travel, but often, it’s this familiarity that also gets in the way of us traveling efficiently.
Efficient traveling doesn’t mean just cutting back on the amount of time we spend getting to and from each destination, or cutting corners on cheaper flights. Here are some small changes you can make to your routine, to make everything from packing your bags to getting to your flight on time more efficient:
1. Pack Like a Flight Attendant
Your favorite way of packing might not be the most efficient. If you’re still folding your clothes instead of rolling them and tucking them into a suitcase, then you need to make some changes. Heather Poole, a flight attendant who’s probably packed more bags than any of us could ever imagine, has been featured on the New York Times for her guide to efficient packing. The secret? First, roll your clothes and set them aside. Put your shoes in, and then start packing the rolled items into your suitcase, from heaviest to lightest. This makes it easier to close your suitcase and compress the items together.
2. Save Up on Airport Parking
Driving to the airport can be quite a hassle, and many people have opted to take cabs instead of driving themselves. After all, as one surprised Filipino traveler found airport parking can be expensive. Do your research and try to secure parking in advance, as some airports can even help you cut off on time by parking your car for you. London’s Gatwick Airport, for example, has something called the “Summer Special Parking” – a service that, despite its name, runs for the whole year. Parking4less explains that the Summer Special Parking allows the airport’s customers to leave their car at reception, with a member of the staff taking the car and parking it afterwards. Small services like these are essential to saving time – no more wandering around looking for a parking space!
3. Download the Right Apps
Today’s travelers are more technologically-inclined than ever before. Whether you’re a backpacker or a first-class flier, you’re bound to have a smartphone or some other device with you. These can be great for general travel, but to make your trip even easier, make sure you download apps that are specific to the place you’re traveling to. Area-specific apps usually have more information than general travel apps – and because they’re almost always community-driven, they’re bound to be more updated than other apps. Getting the right apps is a great way to cut back on time you spend asking around for information.
Since I’ve been traveling I find myself in one of 3 modes, where I run and gun from place to place doing the tourist thing or staying in one place and settling in. I’ve done it multiple times on this trip. At the beginning it tends to be the former where you know that there are more things to see and do than you could ever hope to accomplish.
This leads many to run and gun through places with epic lists of things to do. I find that kind of travel is more prevalent when you are traveling for short periods of time and is due in part to time maximization. People want to get as much out of a trip as possible and plan more which if they stick with the plan takes some of the surprise out of the adventure.
When you travel for a long time you get to miss having a rhythm, it doesn’t necessarily having a set routine but it does mean learning to know a place and get a feel for the people and places around you. There have been several places I’ve stayed for a week or longer just because it felt good even if only for a few days to have a rhythm. To have that favourite street food person, or coffee shop or stop and not have to worry about getting used to a new place again.
The fun about being always on the move is that you have to constantly reorient yourself because you are moving so fast, the downside is you don’t spend enough time in places to actually understand the people and culture you are inhabiting. It is always about the little things, getting to know the locals and having them become more than just a person you meet but being able to call them friends.
The rawness of southeast Asia is something that comes across in how the work life balance isn’t separate, it’s just life. For instance a lot of families run small shops out of their homes, which makes it easier to watch their kids while they work. In the west there is a distinct separation between the two and while you find the separation in the big cities with many jobs, there are so many others where there is no distinction.
In some ways I wish we had that same flexibility back home, it is done out of necessity here but its only something you really notice when you stop just passing through and get a chance to see and talk to the who live and work there.
I will end up running and gunning again later but for now it is about focus, to go in and really do something that I could have never seen myself doing one year ago and Muay Thai definitely qualifies. It is about more than travel for me now, it is about a mission and I have 3, to get good at Muay Thai, write a story that will change my life and be better every day than I was the day before.
Muay Thai is a physical and mental challenge that feels right, that pushes be to go beyond what I know and that is good enough for me. It is not about just the physical change but about dissipating the fear and lack of belief and to find the ability to belief that I can reach farther. If I can do that then everything will come into view and at this very moment I believe everything is possible.
I guess I’ve always been one to wonder, its one of those things that comes with an over active imagination and an over active sense of thought. It comes with thinking more than acting. It is the pain and the strength. I carry that with me everywhere. I can’t not, that’s just who I am.
What I like about Muay Thai is that the focus is simple in its complexity, I still think too much but with each passing moment I can tame the mind and can focus on something that I long neglected, my physical self. I have to fight the shadows of doubt that come from those that love you.
I must listen to what I know, that it is time to fight not in the arena but in the mind and body. That they are one and to know one is to know the other.
The other day a bunch of us went around wandering around Pai by motorbike, we were disappointed with the so called canyon, got caught in the rain, went to the foot of waterfalls, were blessed with views to make the jaws drop and as the sun set we went up the mountain to the spot where the white Buddha watched from up high for and in peace.
I was with people I barely knew but for which we shared a sense of wonder, of exploration, of possibility. We were all breaking down our physical selves to learn and if only for the briefest times to test our physical selves along the way.
I hadn’t seen Pai’s beauty and this was a gift, I’ve been just trying to keep on going with training that I forgot how I was surrounded by paradise I was and it was good to be reminded of that. We were never that far from where we started but the sights were profound, the surprises were small but none the less genuine or fun and it was shared by people I barely knew but who in those moments I could think of no better to be with for that fun.
The lesson I forgot but that this taught me was to be an explorer every day be it in the wonders of Pai or at home in Toronto or wherever, that to be open and to go out there is just as important as where you go.
So as I head back to the second session of the day I know that this is the right place for this moment, to focus in on the physical to help remake the psychological that both need adherence to the goal which is simple to be better than I was the day before.
So I will never stop wondering or exploring who I am or the world around me, to reach, to ask questions and to be willing to put myself out there in order to overcome every barrier I and we all spend a lifetime putting up ourselves to reach a little farther. That’s the mission every day.
A movement from Taipei to Thailand, to a mission in Muay Thai, let’s rock it and make it matter.
What is it that I seek out in the big wide world? Am I searching for a person, a dream, a place or something else that I cannot yet define?
In this day and at this moment I search to take my limiters and burn them to ash and let the wind take them to the sky.
Some have told me to dream big, others to be realistic but I choose to have a fanatical believe in the impossible not because I will achieve it but just by trying I can get further than I could have ever before.
Each day I walk down a new road, one full of new people, places and experiences that have enriched a life that had not yet been lived.
I cannot be what others expect, I can’t live for a tomorrow that may never come and I shall not live like today is my last. I will plan that my world will continue spinning but not with the belief that it will last forever.
I cast aside doubt, fear and shame and will live in confidence, hope and joy. There is enough negativity to drown all of us living today and I will not surrender to its depths anymore.
I shall not be defined by my physical reality, psychological conditioning or others expectations, those are challenges I embrace because within are the keys to my evolution, that I will overcome one moment to the next with each step along this path that is my life at the moment.
My dream is to matter, not to the world but to the people who I have met, maybe I’ve known them my entire life or for just a few moments but if I can inspire or touch, then mine will be a life worth living.
That is why I wander the world, that is where I am in my life and why I cannot be constrained by expectation. I feel the joy of experience, the focus of a mission and the inspiration to write a tale that only I can craft.
For now I am not a 9 to 5er, I am not destined for a desk, maybe that will change but for now that is not within reach and I will enjoy every moment I am not constrained by a routine that doesn’t expand my own possibilities for evolution beyond.
That is at the heart of the journey, today for the tomorrow that I hope for but that I don’t expect. So hello world, my success is not about money, position or what anyone else thinks, it is about being the best me by going beyond and being open enough to let those that care in to share the journey.
I feel joy at the freedom, the wonders of place and spectacle, experience things that I couldn’t have ever hoped for but it is every person I’ve met that have enriched the experience be them local or traveler, they have made me see a life worth living and rising for and every day I admonish that gift with a grin and an eye to make a few waves now and then.
I’ve done 6 sessions of Muay Thai in Pai since I arrived and I am really loving it. It is tough and I am sweating buckets when we finish but I always feel good and slowly but surely there is progress happening. I didn’t expect to be learning a martial arts ever. I’ve never been a physical person but here I am and it just feels good to push myself physically in a way that I’ve never done before.
I am training at the Charn Chi Gym in Pai, it is up the walking street close to the hospital and its basically a ring with a roof, gym equipment and punching bags. I put myself down for 30 days from August 7th but will have to do a visa run at the end of August to Laos in order to get a real visa instead of my visa waver.
In some ways I don’t fit in here at all, but there are always new people filling in the ranks so you never feel alone. I see the Thai guys going at it like tanks, I see them kicking and kicking while I was almost ready to limp after my first few attempts at kicking.he
Its funny how quickly you can see the progress doing it for 4 hours a day every day but most people start the same way and that makes me hopefully of my chances to improve. So the setup is pretty simple the training sessions start at 8am and 3pm and run for two hours every day.
They are broken up into different sections, with the first being jump rope to get the heart beating, then there is stretching, we get our hands wrapped and for beginners they learn the basic moves and then we do pad work. This is where the trainers get us to kick and punch their pads.
It’s really exhilarating to punch even though it took me a session or two to get comfortable to really punch and hit cause it isn’t in my normal nature. The afternoon is like the morning except they also do clinching where you try to push the other person’s head down and practice getting in and out of it.
At many of the gyms I’ve researched they do a run and its not that I can’t run but I don’t have the endurance past past 3 or 4 km. They do the temple run every Wednesday and Saturday which I skipped out on because I don’t want to hold the group back. I ran on my own and hope to start running regularly very soon.
I’ve just been at it a few days and all I want to do is to keep on going, it feels that at this moment its the right thing to do and for me besides the constant questioning I get from family that’s enough to keep me going. I can feel the improvement and damn its gonna be a fun few months.
So it’s been a week since I decided I wanted to learn a martial arts (thanks Mike), in this case Muay Thai in Thailand. I knew that if I go as I am now that the jump might be too much for me to handle and I would probably quit.
I don’t want and can’t let that happen so I started sparring and run/walking just to get into the habit of being physical since the most physical I get is just doing a ton of walking and trekking. I just started looking for a gym in Thailand, one where I can live and train straight. I know no one will read this but if you have any recommendations give me a shout.
The first day I just tested the waters with some sparring and the next day I took a longish stroll to the park (which took more than an hour). Since then every day I’ve tried to do something, mostly I’ve failed, sometimes I can just make it past the edge and usually I feel exhausted and just want to pass out.
One stupid thing I am doing is hitting myself with a small wooden board, it’s about the size of a ruler but decently thick. I’ve hit my legs more than a thousand times already and a few hundred for the arms. Yes it is stupid but damn if it isn’t working because in just a few days I can feel the difference.
It’s been a lot of just finding rhythm to get active. I worry if I can keep it going on my own or whether I will just go back to being lazy which is a huge risk. Currently my legs kill but for some reason I feel the need to continue on. Who knows what will happen or if I can last through training like it was a full-time job but if I can get a little better physically then that is enough for me.
The reason that I need to train full-time is that I’m still travelling and I won’t commit otherwise. I need a solid foundation so that I can train on my own. I don’t expect to get in the ring or to become an expert what I hope is for some solid ground to build upon for the future and to just calm the tremors of my mind from high to silent, at some point. That’s the goal and this was week one.
I’ve never been a really active person and right now I don’t know if I will be able to do what I want which is prep to train in a martial arts next month. Most people would laugh at me for even the attempt and in the 2 days since I’ve decided that was my direction I was told that I shouldn’t which is pretty much like saying can’t and I can’t believe in that any more. I just (more) walked and ran from The Meeting Place to Dazhi Bridge and while it has taken me hours and it wasn’t what I intended I feel great having taken the effort.
Yesterday I sparred with my friend Mike whose is a fighter and it was a cool thing to learn about how to fight even though I probably prevented him from getring some real training in. I have to go all in or I won’t do it. I know and accept that because today, eveey day I have a goal to push myself both physically and intellectually. So I’m writing this as I walk back to the hostel and just had to put this in the web either as my mission to own my body and mind and banish my shame and ignorance outside myself.
So getting to the run I more walked than ran. I ran maybe max 4 km and walked 6 km more. This was a test and tomorrow will be not about distance but going as far as I can. can I do this every day I don’t know but I will find out and I hope I can surprise who would never think I can’t. That word does not exist in the mental vocabulary I use about myself.
I’ve been running away for months and its time to stop running away from what I fear and run towards a focal point, a goal to reach for that is just as simple as being able to handle myself in a fight when the chips are down and to get up when before u would have stayed down. Let’s stand up and see what can be done when the limiters are off and I believe all is with reach.
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