On my way to Brazil I lost my Frommer’s travel guidebook. Actually, the book was not mine. It belongs to Laura, a friend who traveled to Brazil last summer. Large sections of the book were marked with underlines, circles, and stars pointing to all the highlights of her experiences. Laura also left commentary, “MUST SEE”, “best acai in town”, and “watch sunset here.” She meant to impart this knowledge by lending me her guidebook. I was to use her experience to inform my own. An easy way to sift through cafes, tours, activities, walks, and have an experience like hers.
During the long flight, I too left my mark on the pages of her Frommer’s. Anticipating my travels and weeding through the brochure of experiences to find the ones I wanted to live out. You see, I always travel with a guidebook. I’m known amongst my circle of friends as a habitual planner. I think ten steps ahead of where my right foot is going. When it comes to traveling, I wear the same spots.
I left the guidebook on the airplane somewhere between the emergency preparedness sheet and the inflight magazine. From the very start of my month in Brazil, I had to re-learn how to travel. Losing it was like walking in the dark, but the results were empowering.
How to travel without a guidebook:
• Buy a coffee and people watch – Discuss your observations with friends
• Pick a random road and walk with friends – Be sure it’s in a good part of town.
• Follow your nose – If something intrigues you stop and explore
• Meet fellow travelers
• Allow the day to unfold – Time is a continuum when you travel and should not be halved or quartered.
• Technology off
I’m glad I lost Laura’s book. Traveling guidebook-less may mean checking off fewer must-sees in a guide book. But it also means less stress, more time to make meaningful connections with people, and makes for much better stories.
Educational Programs Manager and Summer Intern at The Wandering Scholar