Tag Archives: travel

Focus on where you want to go

Over the last few weeks I have been travelling in Australia and New Zealand. Sometimes I have been travelling with friends and sometimes on my own.
ImageI’ve learnt lots of new things, mostly through trial and error and with the help and kindness of strangers. Who knew you were not allowed luggage on the train from Wellington? (it has its own secret carriage) Or that shops often shut at 4pm and lunch finishes at 2.30?

I’ve been grateful to many people for their directions and help. I also have several observations.

  • People are kind and happy to help – and pleased to be asked for help.
  • People are proud of and keen to tell you about the area in which they live.
  • People like to recommend places to go and things to do and see.
  • People are interested in where you are from and how you have enjoyed visiting their country.
  • Most people have a friend or relative in the UK that they wonder if you know.
  • Most people are rubbish at giving directions.

Most people are rubbish at giving directions because they know too much about the area and tell you information that is irrelevant. Most people also start by telling you the way not to go. For example….

Helpful person 1

  • Helpful person 1: “So you come out of the station and on your left you will see the water.”
  • Me: “Great – So I look for water…”
  • Helpful person 1: “Don’t go to there”

Helpful person 2

  • Helpful person 2: “Go to the end of the road. At the roundabout see the big council building, with a yellow and blue sign and to the left of that there is a park.”
  • Me: “Great – so I’m looking for a council building, yellow and blue and a park”
  • Helpful person 2: “Don’t go that way”

Helpful person 3

  • Helpful person 3: “At the bus stop you see a deli type shop with beautiful flowers in the window and it does excellent coffee.”
  • Me: “OK – looking for the deli and flowers”
  • Helpful person 3: “Don’t go that way – go the other way”

OK so I think you get it. My question is; wouldn’t it be better to focus on what I should be looking for and where I should be going, rather than giving me information about the landmarks that I should avoid?

It makes me think of a driving analogy that a friend told me.

“You are driving. The road is icy and your car spins out of control. There are telegraph posts at about 10 metre spaces along the roadside. If all you think about is not hitting the post, the likelihood is that you will hit the post as that is what you are focusing on. What you should be focusing on is aiming for the gap. You need to focus on where you are going.”

We often spend time concerned with where we don’t want to go, whether in work, relationships, life or simply giving directions to hapless travellers.

If we focus on where we do want to go rather than on where we don’t want to go, surely we stand more chance of arriving at the right destination?

The World at my Feet

That’s just it, we all have the world at our feet. The challenge is whether we choose to embrace it or not.

I’ve travelled to many far-flung places, and for me, travelling represents a departure from normal life, experiencing new places, meeting new people who are different from you. It’s about freedom and escapism. Putting on a backpack with only a rough plan of where I’m going or how I’m getting there is such a departure from my normal planned and structured every day life. Recently I’ve discovered that you don’t have to travel far to feel the buzz of travelling, sometimes some of the most beautiful places, magical people and unique experiences are right there on your doorstep, if you just care to take a closer look.

I work for a charity and last week I was invited to climb Ingleborough which is one of the three Peaks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park by some of our volunteers who are leading a sponsored challenge walk there in September. They wanted me to come and experience it for myself. Although I lived not far away, in Leeds as a student for four years, my student days didn’t involve much hiking outdoors, more drinking indoors. So getting out into the Yorkshire Dales was a long overdue missed opportunity.

The climb to the top of Ingleborough took about 2 hours, the scenery on the way was spectacular, rolling hills, forests, small houses dotted across the landscape.

Beryl, a volunteer, has lived in the area for 50 years, since she got married. She was a mine of information with stories about the people who lived there as well as being a historic encyclopaedia. It was fascinating how Beryl talks about Ingleborough with so much love and compassion; she lives there and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. She is an amazing woman, she knows everyone in the whole local community, she is on charity committees organising dinners, raffles, events and has raised a lot of money and respect. And she knows how to really laugh.

The views from the top were amazing, and for me to be there was a real achievement.  The only others there were a scattering of sheep, looking a bit puzzled and a couple of people. A father and daughter doing a sponsored walk to raise money for the daughters trip with Raleigh International to go to Borneo. Beryl gave her all her loose change.

Travelling is about the people you meet, the stories you hear and stories you become  a part of, the food you eat, the scents you smell and taking a leap of faith in yourself, doing something you wouldn’t normally do. You don’t have to travel far and wide, you just have to be you and immerse yourself totally in your experiences where-ever in the world that may be. That’s what makes life, and travel rich. Beryl bought Ingleborough to life for me. Go on, I very dare you to step out of the ordinary tomorrow. You have the world at your feet and the only person that can take a giant step to embrace the world is you.

If you want to find out more about climbing Ingleborough for charity follow this link.