By: Bryan Herb
I was talking to several friends the other day about what we love and miss about travel. There were the usual things; staying in beautiful hotels, meeting new people from different cultures, trying new cuisine, and just generally the feeling of adventure.
The more we talked, the more we realized that many of us are our best selves when we are vacationing. We are engaging, we are interested in other people, we are active, and we are inspired.
But here is the best part. When you travel, you can theoretically be whoever you want for that entire trip. You can use your vacation as a time to experiment with different aspects of your personality. Are you the type to normally wait for other people come up to you for a conversation? Perhaps while you are traveling you can experiment with initiating conversations. What have you got to lose? The people you are interacting with likely will never see you again, and ironically you have a better chance of actually seeing them again if you do initiate a conversation with them.
Travel affords us with a unique anonymity. On my senior trip in high school to Disneyland, my friend and I spoke in Australian accents the entire day, and had a backstory that we were from a 1000 acre ranch in Australia. My name for the day was Simon, and it was a blast.
To be clear, I was just dumb high school kid, and I certainly do not think it is great to get in the practice of lying to people. However, there are other ways to take on a “role” and at the same time explore latent aspects of your personality.
For instance, traveling provides a fantastic time to try a new look. If there is a style that you’ve admired that you are not quite sure you can pull off, well while you are traveling is a great time to try it.
When I was traveling in Cape Town, South Africa a few years ago, I popped into a small clothing designer’s store, filled with different items that I’ve never seen before that pushed a little avant-garde approach to basic looks. I bought several things and wore them during the trip. It wasn’t the type of clothing I normally wear, and I was definitely pushing the envelope. As it turns out, I am now obsessed with them, and they remain some of my favorite go-tos in my closet. There is one coat that every time I wear it people ask me where they can buy it, and I have to tell them Cape Town, but I digress.
Traveling is a fantastic time to take safe emotional risks–the kind of things that could potentially intimidate you or embarrass you back home.
Also, and this is huge, you are in no obligation to tell people back home about anything that you did while you were on your vacation. Anything. And hopefully, there is no one there checking up on you, or at least not as many people.
So, this is a great time to experiment. You have heard expression, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. I say, employ that mindset on all of your travels. Vacation can be a time to push it. Push what? Push everything. Push your fashion, push your sense of adventure (safely) and push your inner weirdo. Pro Tip: Wear sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled down low while walking through airports, and people will likely think you are a celebrity.
Here’s the caveat to all of this. While travel can be a great time to explore positive aspects of yourself, one can just as easily allow the worst sides of themself to surface. If you go to an airline check-in counter and are rude to the counter attendant, they don’t know anything about all the good works you’ve done in the past. For them, you are the jerk that ruined their morning. That is your identity to them. If you see that same counter attendant again, and they remember you, then guess what: that will be your identity again. And I think we would all agree that the world has enough jerks already. We don’t have any openings to fill. Being nice is sexy.
Speaking of “sexy”, travel can be a phenomenal time to sexually explore as well (safely). We have all heard stories about people pushing their sexual boundaries while traveling. Well, there is a reason for that: it’s fun, and as long as you are safe, it can really feed that need for adventure. Heck, I have tried this for myself. A few years ago I kissed a girl in Mykonos, and I liked it (I didn’t have a boyfriend to mind it)*. Seriously, it was fun, and there was no one there to admonish me for momentarily switching teams–not that that would stop me, but I definitely felt an immense feeling of freedom, knowing I could virtually do whatever I wanted without hearing any “noise” to dampen the experience.
You see, this concept of anonymity while vacationing is such an important hidden gem of the whole travel experience. Take advantage of it. If anything, appreciate the feeling of mystery. Take the opportunity to push past your comfort zone, and celebrate the unique freedom of expression that traveling can bring.
*edited from Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl
Bryan Herb is co-owner of Zoom Vacations®, a US company that creates stylish international private events and gay group vacations to the world’s hottest destinations. Learn more about them at www.zoomvacations.com or call 773.772.9666.
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