Imagine you’re lying on your death bed: What do you appreciate most by looking in the rear mirror? Interestingly many people don’t mention the houses they lived in and the cars they drove. It’s the experiences they made. Especially the places they traveled and the people they met. So, it’s worth to dive into traveling the ExperienceZone way.

Why is traveling so intense for your minds?

I’m writing this article on a white sandy beach in Egypt. Instead of making you jealous, I want to get a few points across. First and foremost, this a relaxation day. I deserve it, since I worked hard the last months. In other words: I drove on the fast-lane primarily in my comfort zone though. Now, it was about the time to tap into my experience zone to refresh my mind with new experiences. How do you make those whilst traveling?

  • New surroundings: Well, you go to a country you haven’t been to before. I was in Eqypt two times. Although I don’t like to go the same place more than once. This spot is an exception, as it allows me to do a lot of stuff. Plus it has other advantages, such as almost the same time zone, only a mid-distance flight, great sunny weather and fair value for price.
  • New people: Ok, I’m a fairly outgoing person. Every night, I would sit at another dinner table and meet people from all over the world. Last night I talked for four hours with a Canadian guy about various topics – ranging from self-determination to career and financials. The hotel is quite small, so that I bump into many people twice a day – at breakfast, dinner or during an activity.
  • New activities: I spent the last 10 days on the kite board, the beach volleyball field and the golf course. This made me learn new stuff (kiting is a great sports, yet can cause frustrations in the first days) or refresh things I learned years ago (my last dive was begin of 2014 and my last round of golf in last year too).

Bottom line, traveling throws you into a different environment with local people or fellow tourists  speaking other languages and having divers backgrounds. Also, you usually do things you don’t do at home; just because you don’t take the time or have a different type of social pressure (this is the reason why so many people have their first parachute or bungee jump on vacation down under). The higher the temperature difference between your luke-warm area back home and the ice-cold water at your vacation destination (metaphorically spoken of course), the more intense your experiences and the greater your learning opportunities.

How do you maximize the experience value of traveling?

Wait a minute. Leave your wing-suit in your wardrobe. Don’t overshoot the target by jumping straight into your danger zone. All it takes are some adjustments, which propel you into great experiences. Here’re my recommendations:

  1. Plan your trip: Choose a destination, type of travel and activities you want to engage in. There’s no die-hard-rule about the sequence of those. Just take some minutes and contemplate about where you want to go, what you want to do or how you want to travel. Do you feel attracted to Patagonia? Great! How do you want to travel the beautiful South American area? Do you want to hike? Take a tent with you, rent a car or check out some hostels along your way? As soon as you gained clarity about what your “inner child” wants to play, do your research plus consult anyone who’s impacted by your travel plans. This might be your parents (because you’re not grown up yet), your partner (because she wants to join you) or your grandparents (because they need to take care of the children).
  2. Book and hold on to it: As soon as you’ve got clarity about where you want to go and when, log it in. Purchase the trip, which is at least the in- and outbound flights for long distance trips. Keep a reasonable degree of flexibility. That allows you to stay longer at places you like. Also you don’t feel rushed. Two years ago, I investigated “Around the World” trips. One option was to book all flights in advance, which I discarded, since I wanted to stay flexible. Haven’t made it around the world yet. Still on my travel list. Anyway, if you fix the cornerstones soon, you usually pay less plus have something to look forward to. Don’t let anyone or anything go between you and your travel plans. There might be exceptions but they’re pretty rare.
  3. Go there and enjoy it with all senses: Embrace traveling for what it is. Probably the best opportunity to make new experiences. Hence, rather than spending the whole vacation between buffet and swimming pool, sign up for activities! Those might be guided or non-self-organized day trips, sports licences (mind me just receiving my kiting licence and two years ago my open water licence at the same spot) or group games. Meet strangers, say hello, state your name and stick out your hand. On vacation everybody is more open than in our daily hustle and bustle. Take advantage of the fact and make you friends. Take photos or tape the most precious moments. Yet don’t prevent yourself enjoying the moments by constantly thinking about the best motive and angle. One of the rookie mistakes I made couple of times. If you do it right, you enjoy your trip to the fullest plus preserve the best moments.