From vacationer to traveler is an introduction to our story as evolving to world travelers.
From Vacationer To Traveler
“No train today” the sign taped to the ticket window of the Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, train station stated.
We’d just traveled 1402 miles (2257 km) from Cape Town, South Africa, via two overnight buses. A trip that involved over four hours at the South Africa/Zimbabwe border and we were exhausted.
This was not welcome news.
The train we needed to catch would take us from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls and it was a trip we’d been looking forward to but now we were feeling a bit stuck in Bulawayo.
Leaving Our Comfort Zones
Recently I was sharing this story with someone and she commented that she could never imagine traveling like that. She much preferred road trips in the US, cruises, or maybe a chartered group excursion with a company that takes care of all the details.
I understand where she was coming from because that is a place we started too. Our first international trip was back in 2007. For our fifth wedding anniversary we spent five nights at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun. It was an amazing all inclusive experience and everything was taken care of from the time we boarded our plane in Denver.
Upon landing in Cancun and finding the Apple Vacations counter Joyce and I never had to worry about transportation, being harassed by touts, or where our next meal would be. For us it got boring fast. We were in Mexico but we weren’t experiencing Mexico.
It was on this luxury vacation that we discovered we really liked getting out and getting our hands dirty in another country’s culture. That lounging poolside behind resort walls for five days was not our thing. So for our next international trip we headed to Belize and this time took more of a backpacker’s approach. Riding local buses, staying in small hotels, renting a car, and moving well out of our comfort zones.
It was scary at times but that trip was a thousand times more interesting than our all inclusive week in Mexico.
The Belize trip was another step in our evolution from vacationers to travelers. After that we went to Jamaica and volunteered in primary schools, again moving out of our comfort zones. Over the years our travel experiences prepared us for our epic fourteen month vacation and knowing not to panic when the train you planned on taking is just not going to happen.
So I say if you have the desire to truly travel and explore this one planet we all share but are a bit unsure of just how much adventure you can handle book the safe vacation but plan a little adventure within it.
Do something outside your comfort zone but within safe distance of wherever you are staying. Ask the staff of the hotel what is nearby that locals like but tourist rarely do. You might discover a great restaurant, shop, or local plaza where you can take in the culture like a true traveler.
It is safe to say that you’ll have a more memorable experience than yet another day laying next to the pool reading the latest Jack Reacher novel.
Keep expanding your vacation comfort zone until you are a traveler worthy of the pages of National Geographic. Life is short, the world is big, get out there!
One day you too will go from vacationer to traveler.
Two days later we did catch that train to Victoria Falls and during those two days in Bulawayo we met some great people and had some experiences I know we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. Because of that I am glad the trains of Zimbabwe don’t always run on time. Or at all.