It's been quite a year for us at Travel Stories Podcast and this rather small episode is merely a thank you to all of our listeners, and the wishing of a happy holiday season, wherever you may be.
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Culture is one of the first things you might notice while you travel. While culture shock is a sizable and impactful thing, experiencing other cultures is vital to travel and vital to humanity as a whole. Learning about culture while traveling can help you learn about those that you share the world with, as well as learning more about yourself.
Ladan Jiracek visits this week from his own podcast, the Travel Wisdom podcast. He has been to over ninety countries and loves to think about how travel can be a chance to learn. He and Hayden discuss how to learn from travel and how to find purpose and meaning from your adventures while traveling. They also have an in-depth talk about how important it can be to learn a language while traveling. Ladan also mentions that relationship cultures are among the most drastic differences he has found internationally. The two of them agree that exploring cultures outside of one’s own society is vital.
Ladan also shares what he believes has been holding people back from traveling, while Hayden brings up the topic of podcasts and their impact on the travel world. They talk about one-upping, travel as a learning experience, the impact of certain countries, and their thoughts on marriage and children. Ladan discusses his time in Georgia, as well.
“Cheating Death and Hitchhiking Africa,” Ladan’s tale of how difficult it can be to get from point A to point B, is full of conflict and twists. One summer, Ladan and his friends decided to hitchhike across Africa, and one thing after another started to go wrong while they were crossing the desert on a twelve-hour road trip into Somalia. Without water and with far too much sand, Ladan remembers vividly how journeying to Somalia was wrought with strife and amusing troubles.
Culture is the most vital part of national identity. It is the root of language, of tradition, and of daily life in communities all around the world. Getting to know the cultures around you, and the cultures around the world, can drastically affect not only you as a traveler, but you as a person, as well.
Solo traveling is vital to finding oneself as a traveler. Be you at a hostel in Argentina, a farm in Brazil, or a crossroads in Vietnam, traveling solo and making decisions by yourself can help you find yourself both as a traveler and as a person. Lifting the veil off your eyes and being the purest version of yourself will aid you in losing yourself so far that you become found.
Travel is quite the ambitious venture. As Hayden says, “to travel is to live.” “The road is the best teacher,” he continues, and he could not be more right; what travelers can learn from their adventures can shape themselves and their lives from there on forwards. The things we learn about the world are not as important as the things we learn about ourselves. The most important question to ask oneself this week is: how does traveling alone affect what travel gives to us?
Justin Walter joins Hayden to answer exactly this question. Justin, a television host, producer, writer, and traveler, hosts Let’s Go LA!, an outdoor adventure show, and writes the blog Around the World with Justin. He talks with Hayden about the time he won a trip to Wales, as well as how he got started as a world traveler. He discusses his travels and travel writings before Hayden mentions how important it can be to travel alone, and Justin agrees. In fact, he challenges listeners to travel by themselves at least once. He believes that it can force you to meet new people and encounter new things and to confront your fears.
Justin brings his story, a tale which he has titled “Letting Go,” which takes place in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He tells of how he and his friend journeyed to the Yi Peng Lantern Festival before they realized the crowd was entirely filled with people from all over the world, an unexpectedly diverse group. The ceremony and festival were incredibly symbolic and heavy with tradition, giving the entire experience another unique and beautiful layer. However, what was a surprise about the whole event was what happened to one of his companions to the festival.
Traveling alone is not an easy task; however, for any world traveler - or, in fact, for any traveler - it is a necessary task. Solo journeys force travelers to interact more with the world around them and truly get to know the culture on a far deeper level. “The road is the best teacher,” Hayden points out, and the best road trips can be those where the car only holds the driver.
A stressless travel mindset is not an easy thing to cultivate, but it is necessary for travelers. Skipping to the end can be a good trait to adopt as a traveler, because you can skip to the moment where something bad seems less drastic and concerning. Bad situations will always come up; when they do, an adventurer needs to be prepared to take the positive from the negative and keep moving forwards.
When bad things happen, humans, in essence, have two response options: they can worry about it, stress about it, and live in a place of fear, for one. Their second option, though? They can pre-accept that bad situations might happen and live in a place of learning and gratitude instead. It is nearly impossible to stop bad situations from happening, but one thing that can be controlled is the response.
Hayden welcomes Cody Crabb, a composer based out of Salt Lake City. He has worked on a number of full-length films, YouTube channels, and shorts, and is currently composing scores for the very Travel Stories Podcast. He and Hayden talk about how the location of a story influences his scores, how important body language can be, and the significance of learning and understanding the local language when you travel.
Cody shares his story, which took place in Sinaloa, Mexico. He calls this story, “The Ambulance Story.” He spent two years in Mexico, but he still remembers vividly the day that he and one of his new companions saw an ambulance and a truck squeal around the corner while they were walking down the street in Sinaloa. It was not the speed or the recklessness of the vehicles that surprised him - no, it was what he saw and heard on the back of the truck that surprised him more than anything else.
The lessons learned in another country when one travels can stay in memory and actions for years after the adventure is over. Cody and Hayden talk about how important it is to attempt to prepare for any situation when you travel. Hayden talks about how he likes to fly by the seat of his pants, and how instincts can be changed. Composure is a powerful trait to possess when traveling, and keeping oneself in a state of pre-acceptance can lead to a stressless travel mindset.