I feel like my lens has changed. I have a new perspective on travel and inherently, on life. Up until now my vacation-mindset has been,
1. See how tan I can possibly get
2. Return from said vacation and impress everyone with how tan I've become
This is ridiculous in so many ways. And for one, getting a tan is actually an excruciating experience in my opinion. Sitting on a chair or towel, literally baking in the sun. Who decided that this was relaxing? Let alone if you get burnt...
But what else is there to do when you've actively shied away from adventurous experiences? On my time away from work, I felt like I needed to just shut down. Having always had a physically taxing job, I presumed that lying around would be exactly what my mind and body really needed.
Last spring on a trip to Costa Rica - home to beautiful waterfalls, hot springs, world class surfing, hiking and zip lining; I managed to spend all 8 days of my trip at the pool on the resort. That whole pool thing doesn't sound so bad right? Sure, but I should mention that I have a terribly hard time relaxing. I managed to finish 4 books, submit an application to finish my degree and write a business plan for my private training company that didn't exist at the time. That was about as relaxing as it sounds.
I returned from that trip with momentum, but it felt more like a work intensive than a break from reality. This leads me to question why I went all the way to Costa Rica in the first place.
What's the point of traveling if not to truly experience what places and their people have to offer?
My trip a few weeks ago with Koda Sail in Croatia, shattered my preconceived notions about how vacation time should be spent and opened my eyes to the reality that creating lasting bonds with perfect strangers, exploring and opening yourself up to new cultures, and most importantly escaping your comfort zone, is far more rewarding than lounging in a chair somewhere.
To be honest, before I left I wasn't exactly looking forward to this trip. I had no idea what to expect. I was stressed from not knowing what to bring. It was my first time traveling alone. And I'd imagined that whatever types of "activities" that were planned for a group of 40 people, were not going to be fun for me. Turned out, I was so wrong.
On the first day, we arrived and boarded the boat. Shortly after a circle of introductions with 40 new housemates, we went to our cabins, unpacked a bit, forgot everyone's name and changed into our swimwear to prepare for our first swim stop.
I must've been riding the adrenaline of meeting everyone and adjusting to the new environment, that I decided it would be a good idea to jump off the side of the boat...
This out of character (literal/scary-as-shit) leap of faith set the tone for the rest of my trip. I didn't jump off the top deck again after that, but the ceiling to my comfort zone had successfully been shattered, and things were straight magical from there.
Over the next week, we went on to go rafting, swimming through caves, zip lining, and biking.
We spent almost every night out partying in some impressive clubs.
And got into some day drinking, jetskii riding, and casual lounging in Hvar.
We explored the old towns of Makarska and Korcula. Ate at local spots, tucked away on cobblestoned streets that reminded me more of alleyways. And witnessed the most beautiful sunsets I'd ever seen with new friends that felt like family.
The day we spent in Dubrovnik seemed to go on endlessly. After everyone finished the Game of Thrones tour (except for me, sorry not a fan!), we walked through the city, ate lunch and gelato (SO MUCH gelato on this trip), cliff jumped and swam, then finished the day with a walk along the city walls.
It's hard to believe we fit all of that in just 8 days.
Returning from Croatia felt so, incredibly different to me than Costa Rica or any other trip I'd ever been on. I was refreshed, excited to get back to my work, my friends, my life.
I felt like I had grown as an individual, in so many ways. There is something about letting go that allows you to fully experience the things that are happening in the present moment.
The things that caused me the most anxiety leading up to the trip, made for the incredible experience I couldn't have even imagined. Chris and the team at Koda Sail truly took care of everything. We were able to shut off and just be.
When you let go of the control (you think) you have over your life and yourself and your time and your experience, you receive the opportunity to realize how small you are in this world.
And do with that what you'd like, but this realization has led me in a new direction, with more momentum than ever before. I'm aiming to increase my authenticity and give more of who I truly am to everyone I meet and encounter in every sense.
There's nothing more relaxing than the idea that your worries, anxieties, and problems are just so small. The important *things* are the connections you make and the experiences you have. And I walked away from this trip with more of those than I know what to do with.
Next time you're lucky enough to have the opportunity to get away, consider an adventure.