Travel has always been a big part of my self discovery journey, and it all started when I decided to take off for a summer to study in Italy. I was the last applicant for the program as I had decided three weeks before departure this was something I had to do. I remember arriving at the large wooden door of my homestay family with no idea what was waiting for me on the other side. The trip was the first time I really went out on my own, with no expectations, only knowing I was in the right place and allowing the adventure to unfold as it was meant to. Since then I have had many travel adventures and the greatest memories from these trips have always been times of spontaneity and serendipity, unplanned and truly in the flow of trust in the adventure.
There was the time in Serbia, stranded on the cold floor of the train station during Easter holiday with nothing open and ATMs not working, we found a little cafe where a father of a young boy gave us free coffee and hard boiled eggs he and his son had decorated. After we found out the train wouldn’t arrive until the next day, we started walking to the airport hoping to find a flight to take us to Turkey. Along the way a young blonde woman stopped and asked if we needed help, she was one of the few to speak good english as she had just moved back from New York to be with her dying father. She gave us a ride to the airport and wished us luck on our travels. When we arrived in Istanbul we found a hostel in the oldest part of town where we discovered a little cafe with an amazing vegetarian menu. I hadn't eaten properly in days and scarfed down plate after plate of beautiful fresh food. The owner was delighted by our company and gave us free apple tea and baklava as he talked about his city and how we had to go visit his brother who did this and his cousin who did that. We walked the tiny streets and visited a Turkish bath with a dome ceiling filled with tiny holes making it look like the night sky filled with stars. It was a great start to our adventures in Turkey, all because we knew things would work out and left our plans to take the train behind and never looked back.
Then there was the ASLA conference in San Diego. We had just finished breakfast on a rooftop patio in the sun and dreading going into the conference center filled with carpet and auditoriums, when one of us suggested we skip the lectures to take an hour-long cab ride to La Jolla. We spent the day watching the seals in the cove, walking barefoot in the grass in the park, sneaking into posh hotel gardens and stumbling onto a little open air cafe for dinner, complete with trees filled with twinkling lights. It is one of the only things I remember from the conference, and still to this day one of my favorite travel memories.
Another time I had a trip planned to visit Denver and with everything booked except my flight, I was shocked to see they were over $2,000. Instead of canceling the trip I decided to take the train, a two day trek on the California Zephyr. I sketched the beautiful landscapes and wrote poetry and stories about the places and people we passed by. I met a girl from California who was surprised to meet a girl from Detroit who could recite rap lyrics, as she thought everyone from Michigan was a farmer. We drank mini wine bottles and told each other stories about our hometowns. I had reached out to a friend who had moved to Denver and he was so excited to host someone from home, he picked me up from the station and gave me the grand tour. We drove up into the mountain where we met a monk in a little trinket shop who sold me a prayer flag and told me the story of their significance. It was on this trip I met another one of my greatest life friends who I visited in New York on another magical journey.
Intuitive travel is about living in the moment and following the feeling to take a chance on a new adventure. It means going on a trip with no grand expectations or set plans, following your intuition and allowing it to take you where you need to go. The hidden gems and stories are there for us to find, we just have to stop looking and allow the magic to happen. Some people may say my days of spontaneous travel are behind me with a baby in tow, but I believe she deserves to see the world and experience its limitless possibilities.