A couple months ago, I did a little survey. I asked what inspires you. I asked what you wanted to read about. And I got lots of amazing feedback and ideas.
One of those ideas, asked by several people, was this:
How in the world (literally) do you decide where to travel?
Like any other decision in life, the question of where to travel is complicated and deeply personal. And, for me, that deeply personal decision often has a whole lot to do with a method they use in therapy. Let’s call it the Body Method.
The Body Method goes a little something like this:
First, you need to relax. Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes. Maybe listen to some Brazilian Jazz music or just sit in silence for a few moments. Whatever it takes, you need to get to neutral. Stop mulling over the possibilities. Stop making pro and con lists. Just be.
Now, you’re going to say each of your options out loud, focusing on how your body and heart feel, not on logic (because, let’s face it, if you are anything like me, you have thought the thing to death already; you know the costs, the pros, the cons, the challenges; and what you really need is to figure out what you want, not what’s logical).
Say the first option out loud (or have a friend or therapist do it for you, which sometimes works better because you don’t know what’s coming) and just notice how you feel. Does your body feel tighter? Relaxed? Did you literally sigh in relief? Did tears spring to your eyes? Why?
Note all of that, then move onto the next option. Say it aloud and, again, note how your body and heart react.
Do it again for each other option.
At the end of the exercise, chances are, you’ll know what it is you really want. Then the trick is just to make it happen.
The first time I used the Body Method was when I started my business. I was sitting in my therapist’s cozy office in southern Denver. We had hot tea and there was a little sunlight coming in through the windows. She told me to relax and try to clear my head of all the pros, cons, arguments, explanations, and thoughts that had been battling it out. Then she told me to notice how I felt when she said each option.
“Staying in your current job,” she said.
I felt instantly anxious, tight in the chest, panicky.
“Taking the new full-time job offer,” (I had one on the table at that time).
I felt sad, like I had failed. My heart dropped.
“Starting your own business,” she said.
I’m sure you’ve already guessed this, but this option was the clear winner. I felt as though a weight was lifted off my chest. I felt excited and nervous. And I started to cry tears of relief.
Clearly, despite my fears and rationale and all the pros and cons and lists I’d made, what my heart really wanted was the freedom of running my own business. I started making plans that very night.
Ever since that first time, I’ve put a lot of faith in the Body Method‘s ability to sort out my dilemmas, including travel ones. So it only makes sense that after British Immigration treated me to the most stressful travel experience of my life, I turned once again to my own heart, this time specifically looking for the option that caused me the least stress and frustration.
“Going back to the US for a while,” I said.
I felt frustration. I didn’t mind the idea of stopping by for a few days, but I wasn’t planning on being in the US this April and I hated the idea that British Immigration was forcing me to be.
“Costa Rica,” I said.
I felt mildly anxious. I hadn’t done enough research to know where in Costa Rica I wanted to go and I knew nothing about the dog requirements. There was too much to think about and I was feeling easily overwhelmed. I needed something simpler.
“Sayulita, Mexico,” I said.
And in came the warm feeling of relief. It was warm. It was easily accessible from Puerto Vallarta, which was a short, direct flight from Denver, where I could get the dog’s paperwork from our long-time vet while seeing a few friends and tackling jet lag for about a week. Plus, it was already on my list; I had already done my research; I already knew I wanted to someday see this colorful little city.
So, here I am today: writing to you from sunny, ranchero music-filled Sayulita, where, after a few days at a gorgeous resort just outside town, I moved into an enormous, airy studio apartment in town. And you know what? It’s exactly what I needed.
How do you choose where to travel?
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