Disoriented? That’s What Makes Travel Epic!

Disoriented? That's What Makes Travel Epic!

As you know, Jim and I recently came back from a trip to Georgia and Armenia. These two places are pretty much what I would call, “off the beaten track.” Both countries being part of the former Soviet Bloc, are still struggling a bit. Since we love to drive, we rented a car and drove and drove and drove. I don’t think we ever went faster than 100 kilometers an hour, and that was two short stints where we were on an autobahn or interstate-like highway with two lanes going each way and eventually will continue through the country. We loved seeing the signs that showed the kilometers to Istanbul and Baku, but like I said, it didn’t last.

Many, many people have asked me, “Why did you go there?” For me the answer is simple. I love going places that don’t have all the conveniences of home. Like the quote above, I feel more alive when I have to work at it a little. As much as I love traveling in western Europe, let’s face it,  it’s super easy.  I pretty much know what to expect; there are few surprises and even fewer times that I feel out of my comfort zone.  It’s predictable, beautiful, and certainly a vacation, a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Who doesn’t love that? But, if I’m honest, it doesn’t feel “different” and different makes it feel like real, old fashioned, down and dirty, travel.

I’m no longer intimidated by customs officials, foreign languages and a lack of English, or having any idea where anything is. I have certainly learned patience from travel. So many times, I’ve been at a loss of what to do, and I just wait. Somehow it works out. For example, one time I was flying domestic in China. We were supposed to change planes in Shanghai, but our flight had arrived after the next flight had already taken off. I was stuck in this airport at midnight with my two teenage daughters. I just stood and waited. The airline employees finally told us they had a hotel for us and instructed us how to take the bus to get to it and back the next morning so we could continue. It worked out. It just took a little time, and I was definitely out of my comfort zone.

To me, that is what travel should feel like. I want it to always make me feel a little uncomfortable. I want to work at it a little. Even though I love living in Central Europe and going home to the States and traveling, it’s not the same. I almost never feel out of my comfort zone. I know what to expect and what is expected of me. It’s not hard. I think I need to create a new term. I need a term for that travel, that I crave, which gives me that “lost” feeling. Any ideas?

When do you feel like you are traveling?

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Disoriented? That's What Makes Travel Epic!

25 Comments

  1. Absolutely on the same wavelength again Corinne, I couldn’t agree more. I’m always being asked by people “why there?” and for me it’s “why on earth not?” There’s the whole world to explore and the less well known the better as far as I’m concerned. I love not being able to read the alphabet, not having any linguistic references and being truly “lost” it’s the best!

  2. I like how you think Corinne! I think the type of travel you describe is exploring. Sometimes I think about the explorers and traders of previous centuries that crossed seas and mountain ranges to places they could not even imagine existed. They would have had to communicate with people who did not speak their language, try new foods and navigate unknown terrain. Keep exploring, I love your tales

  3. It’s fun to travel to places that cause us to re-think about things and make us get out of our comfort zone. I think it is great that you explored two new countries and sounds like you had a great timing do so. I am a believer that one can find places to get out of one’s comfort zone though in one one’s own country as well. The times I have felt most uncomfortable have definitely been in the U.S.

  4. while I agree that the point of travel is to get outside your comfort zone, i like to be prepared to a reasonable extent. I also like the challenge of picking up a few phrases in the local language! Hello and thank you are the most useful, I think.

  5. Corinne, you tend to pick some of the best quotes ever. I have said this a lot of times but I am going to repeat it. I think we as human beings are ready to be lost, disoriented or out of our comfort zone. The thing is that certain influences (family, media, society) teach us to be afraid of those things. But, like you mentioned, things are going to be ok. With patience, you will find a way one way or another.

  6. I agree, though I still find myself a little apprehensive going through customs, ‘as if’ I have done something wrong. Sort of yes sir, no sir – but that is part of the experience. I would love to see both Georgia and Armenia, and having read your posts to date, know that you had some very unique and amazing experiences.

  7. I didn’t even realize I love being out of my comfort zone until I read this. I thought that I am a careful traveler, always arranging everything down to a tee but the arrangements stops at the hotel accommodation and the transportation. I do love being in a foreign place with people speaking a different language. It makes me feel anonymous and I do love that kind of feeling. I’m sure you get what I mean. :p

  8. I feel such a kinship with your travel philosophy Corinne, so many times I have totally agreed with the quotes you find and this is another. I love exploring places that are just so different from home.

  9. I agree with all of this Corinne. We also like Western Europe but I have to say that we’ve become big fans of Eastern Europe where things are a little less scripted, where we don’t have to wear the latest fashions and where the people may be a little rougher on the exterior but where a smile really does count for something.

    Frank (bbqboy)

  10. I totally agree that one of the best parts of travel is the angst it incites. I think it’s during those uncomfortable moments that your journeys transform you and help you to be quicker on your toes, more resourceful, etc.

  11. It’s funny, when we were traveling in Asia a lot, most countries use the alphabet systems that are completely different from ours. There was no hope of finding familiar words on signs or menus. So we just had to find other ways to figure things out and it was freeing in a way. In Vietnam they do use a western alphabet. and so I would look at words and try to find something familiar. And it was frustrating to have collections of familiar letters that meant nothing to me .

  12. I’ve found that the travelers I admire most are the ones who go out of their comfort zone – and that ‘comfort zones’ are different for different people. It’s easy for travelers to get impressed with ourselves for how many places we’ve been or things we’ve done, but if you don’t make an effort to put yourself in uncomftorable experiences, you’re just repeating the same trip in different locations.

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