Imagine being at the right place, at the right time to witness a street performer juggle six flaming swords while riding a unicycle and singing “Frère Jacques.” While not the most death-defying feat you may observe while traveling, it’s certainly catches you off guard. That’s a tip-worthy performance, because your creative juices have just been stirred, but there’s more inspiration to be found.
As you get caught up in the rush of life, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the to-do list of traveling. You have to fit everything in your luggage, be at the airport or train on time and see all the tourist sites. Aside from providing time away, your travels also give you freedom to find yourself and a little inspiration along the way.
Eat the Local Fare
Focus on having a local food experience, by eating the local fair and following applicable customs. Food is an unifying human experience, which brings families and various cultures together. Treaties have been made over feasts.
Understand that much of the food located in tourist areas are catered to a tourist palate. It’s one thing to adjust spice levels to not make someone feel like they’re dying, but it’s another to up the salt or sugar in a dish. When seeking authentic local cuisine, avoid the tourist traps.
Many destinations host food tours and go over local cuisine and traditions, along with how to prepare a truly local dish. Food tours will ease you into trying food at some of the outdoor markets where food stands and trucks amass for festivals and tired tourists, such as the delicious and varied night markets in Taipei. Another idea is to visit the local farmers’ market and ask the vendors and shoppers for their recommendations.
Take Part in Something
Be a part of living history as it unfolds in the present to create a memorable experience. To connect is to be inspired.
Participate in a traditional festival. If you plan to visit a temple or a wildlife refuge, ask if you can donate your time in some way to support a cause and keep the local traditions visible and alive. Participate in prayers, meditation, singing and dancing. Learn a new language.
Learn and Feel the Impact of History
Don’t learn a list of facts to ramble off at any given time and demonstrate a limited knowledge of a culture. Really get to know the culture: learn and feel the impact of history.
True history has ripples and influence on modern times. Though castles may become living museums, they have also been hospitals, places to mourn the dead and sanctuaries at times of war. One location may go through many transformations over the years, living on in poetry and oral tradition. Use your five senses to take in the history while on tour and wandering old city streets.
The most interesting history you’ll find are personal tales, ones of families who have lived in the area and grown up immersed in this history. How does it affect them? Take joy in the little details of family and fun.
There are so many sites to see. How do you choose? A street performer playing with fire, sharp objects and singing in a language foreign to you, all on top of an unicycle, is eye-catching and inspirational in its way. But, wait — there’s more!
The real fires of inspiration while traveling are found around you, but instead of being an observer, be an active participant: eating the local fare and taking part in a festival or language or dance lesson. Actively listen to the best testaments of living history — stories of local people, what has brought joy, surprise, sorrow and laughter.