Breaking the Rules


Somehow, around the time that I first started to travel as an adult, I got the idea planted in my head that “real” travelers travel independently. I don’t remember where this idea came from, but apparently it was powerful. I was determined to see the world as an independent traveler.

There’s a lot to be said for independent travel, and I loved all of the trips I took independently. But it has some drawbacks, too. Mainly, it’s harder: It requires a lot more time and energy in the research and planning, and a good bit more chutzpah in the execution. Looking back on the last fifteen years, I realize now that I could have done a lot more traveling if I’d been willing to break my own rule about how I travel.

It’s regrettably easy to create “rules” for ourselves and our lives without even realizing we’ve done it. We decide that we’re going to do something this way and then never pause to consider later whether this way is still the best or most appropriate way to go about it. It happens in big areas, like travel and work, and small areas, like how you clean your house, and everything in between. And unfortunately, these invisible rules often end up making our lives more difficult.

Assumptions, the ugly cousin of invisible rules, are even more pervasive and harder to identify. We all too frequently accept something as being just so without examining the truth behind it. In travel planning, I see assumptions all the time: people who assume they won’t like a cruise, or assume there’s no point in visiting Africa because it’s all flat desert (it’s not, by the way), or assume that traveling out of the country is too hard.

To expand the sphere of our daily existence and make our lives truly unlimited, we have to track down, flush out, reexamine, and actively change the rules and assumptions that have been guiding our decisions.

Fortunately, I eventually discovered that there are other ways of traveling that are just as “real” as, and sometimes even better than, going the independent route. If you want to get the most out of your world explorations, take some time now to rethink the rules and assumptions you’ve made about how and where you travel. It’s a liberating exercise.

Just brace yourself for all the adventures to come.


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