“Hi everyone, my name is Hans Nelson and I am addicted to Travel.” I feel like this is a growing epidemic across the country nowadays. Do they have Travelers Anonymous classes for those of us that can't stand being in one place at a time for too long, infected with the travel bug and just can't wait to go out and explore?
15 years ago I would have denied the idea that my future self would travel to 24 countries after I graduated from college. I would have said, “No way!” Don't get me wrong 15 years ago I would have loved to travel all over the globe, just like thousands of other people, but like most, I was afraid or did not have the resources to make it happen. For a young guy from South Dakota traveling meant, driving to a neighboring state. But once I left the ground for more than 14 hours on a flight east to the amazing country of Thailand, my eyes were opened to a whole new level of travel.
I recently read some excerpts from a great book by the popular, German/Canadian spiritual teacher, Mr. Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose It captures this essence of why traveling has become so important to me. He states, “Some people feel more alive when they travel and visit unfamiliar places or foreign countries because at those times sense perception--experiencing--takes up more of their consciousness than thinking. They become more present.” I like that line, “They become more present.”
Throughout my experiences of traveling I have learned the art of “being present”.
I would not at all say I am an expert, but while I travel I force myself to truly “smell the roses.” I eat the foods, I try to socialize with the locals, I take in the sites (with my own two eyes, not through a lens) and I love walking through the wet markets in southeast Asia or walking through a tulip garden in the Netherlands all for those amazing exotic smells. I learned the best way to be present….activate your five senses. Its almost like an active method of meditation. I stop, I listen for a sound, I smell for any scents, I taste if there is something to eat, I watch if there is something to see and I touch if I am able to feel something around me.
But just like any situation you continue to grow and learn new methods. I learned another method to help me be present. It is something you can do anywhere at anytime to anyone. Its like a sixth sense (no, I don't see dead people), it is the art of caring. I owe a lot of my gratitude for filling almost two passports to the amazing, global education program known as Up with People. Through my five year traveling/impacting/performing lifestyle with Up with People I learned the true meaning of caring.
Its one thing to hop on a plane or in a car and travel somewhere, stay in a hotel, eat at fancy restaurants and visit all the popular sites. Its another experience when you travel somewhere and go with the idea to interact with people, to join in on a community project or to help someone in need. It redefines traveling...
...You begin to travel with a purpose.
What is amazing is that more and more people are discovering this. And as more and more people get involved, more and more organizations are forming to make it easy and affordable to travel and join alongside some amazing projects that are building up communities and people.
Soul Trips helps people embark on expeditions to "be part of a community, make an impact far away, and bring the experiences home to contribute locally, and inspire others to change the world, one trip at a time."
Traveling with a purpose embraces the human experience. It allows for us all as human beings to connect and share moments, forcing us to be present, pulling us to care and opening us to love and be together as one species on this amazing planet we call home.