How to Travel with a Positive Attitude
One decides to go travelling for many reasons. They might want to visit a special site they always dreamt of; it could be a friend they feel like visiting; a trainee position or anything you could think of.
The objective of the trip, even if it’s travelling for the sake of travelling, might enhance the events that will make you think differently about something. Or it might not. At the end of the day, your choices, no matter your reasons for travelling, will make all the difference.
Forming Your Opinion
At home, what you know about a country or a culture is defined by many diverse sources. On a superficial level what you see on TV and read about in certain magazines and newspapers might give you an idea of what this society is about.
At a slightly greater level you have books (fiction and non-fiction) written by individuals from that specific country (or that you learn at school), movies about its culture or even restaurants that serve their food. Here you probably develop a sense of curiosity or rejection.
Another way of experiencing a different culture is by making friends of people from said country, by having a relationship with one of them or by participating in gatherings, dance/language classes, religious events. You are actually meeting and socialising, probably giving you a great insight of their community.
Every person will be exposed to some sort of information about a distant culture throughout their whole lives. Eventually they’ll have a general idea of the history of the country and also by then, they will have formed an opinion.
Based on these experiences they might become fascinated and can’t wait to hop on a plane and visit said country; they might hate it and will never set foot over there or, more commonly, have mixed to no feelings towards this culture.
Challenging Your Beliefs
My understanding is that when you travel, all your beliefs are going to be challenged; you’re going to face situations which will probably be the opposite of what you expected — you will be disappointed and unsure what to believe, or pleasantly surprised.
Usually the outcome of the whole trip will either reinforce your previous beliefs or change them. I have seen both happening and usually the way you travel has a major impact on how these perspectives might or might not change.
The most important mindset a traveller must have is an open mind and a positive attitude — that alone will influence whether you’re going to have a nice time or not.
Unfortunately the person I met had neither characteristics.
So Much Negativity
When you’re constantly complaining about mundane stuff and tend to only see the negative side of things, it’s really hard to change the way you think about a place.
So you think the place is dangerous then you don’t trust anyone; you believe it’s dirty, so you might not try local food or accommodation; maybe you think the people are rude, so you don’t even bother meeting new people.
What. A. Waste.
It doesn’t matter the type of traveller you are — budget, luxury, eco, adventure, etc. If you don’t challenge your beliefs, they will never change. If you don’t mingle and feel the culture, you’ll never truly know what you’re missing.
I’m not talking about being reckless; it’s about assessing the risk, if there is any, and acting accordingly. Even if your trip is an all-inclusive beach resort package and you don’t want anything else, you’re still missing an opportunity to become a better person by broadening your perspective.
The worst thing you can do is generalise — take one event with one person/food/custom and assume the whole country is like that.
So that food you don’t like when you ate it back home, try it again and you might discover it tastes completely different. If that rude flatmate made you think people from a specific country were narrow-minded, why don’t you try striking up a conversation with someone? Why don’t you try making new friends and leaving the prejudice behind?
Look On The Bright Side
I am a budget traveller, yes, because I think it’s easier to have these type of connections if you don’t confine yourself in a hotel room. I couchsurf; I hitchhike; I use Blablacar; I use Airbnb; I stay in hostels.
I put myself in situations where I know the magic happens.
And if I don’t like it? If I get robbed? If they are indeed rude?
Well, shit happens, get over it and try again. Do not define your whole experience based on that one unfortunate event. And if something bad happens, you should always look on the bright side, as difficult as it may sound.
It’s no use mulling about something especially if it is completely out of your control. You should learn a lesson and laugh about it afterwards. I’m talking about this because I‘ve travelled with people who wouldn’t let go and enjoy the trip.
Every bad situation was a reason to complain for hours. And when the person is in that mood it seems like it attracts even worse incidents. So, all of a sudden this person is a pool of negativity who poisons themselves and the ones around them.
Don’t do this!
I’m not saying you see things through rose-coloured glasses and just ignore everything. No you shouldn’t. But you should know when enough is enough.
So open your heart, open your mind and start each trip as if you didn’t know anything about where you’re going. Get that blank canvas and each day try to paint a beautiful picture about something new you learnt.
Understand the problems and have empathy, remember that no one or no place is perfect. You’re not perfect! Be willing to forgive and most importantly, be willing to change for the good instead of reinforcing your negative prejudgements.
However, if you’re adamant about your beliefs and if you think you know enough and don’t need to change then please, just be considerate of others! Rethink your actions, because whilst you might not be enjoying something, someone else could be having the time of their life.
Seek the unknown; try new things or repeat old experiences. Don’t forget that no matter the objective of your trip, you should be having fun!