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Embracing the Traveler's Mindset: Finding Joy in Life's Peaks

Imagine strolling through the aisles of your local grocery store, where an ordinary errant takes an unexpected turn and you run into your friend, Scott, whose recent trip to Paris you had seen on social media.

You ask him, “Hey Scott, how was your trip to Paris?”

Scott’s face lights up, and he says exactly what you were expecting him to say. He exclaims “It was so great— you should definitely go!”

Let’s press pause for a minute and see what really unfolded during Scott’s adventure in Paris.

Upon arriving at the airport, Scott realizes his ticket doesn't cover checked luggage, resulting in an unexpected $100 expense. After resolving this, he joins the security line, only to discover his ticket didn’t have as TSA PreCheck listed on it, forcing him to endure the much longer security line.

He finally gets onto the plane, and the loudest family ever is sitting behind him, depriving him of catching any sleep during the overnight flight. Exhausted upon landing in Paris, he navigates the metro, accidentally taking the wrong train and setting himself back by 45 minutes.

He finally gets to the street where his hotel is located, and he notices how there is trash everywhere on the street—not quite the picturesque Paris he envisioned it would be. Scott then checks into the hotel, and it’s the smallest hotel room he’s ever seen, barely finding room for his suitcase. Realizing he needs some fresh air, he walks to the Eiffel Tower where there are swarms of people everywhere and he can’t even find enough room to sit down without touching someone.

At this point, Scott becomes incredibly hungry, and a little frustrated too, so he finds an authentic Parisian restaurant to eat at. The only problem is that it’s a little too authentic because he speaks no French and orders something he doesn’t end up liking.

Believe it or not, this is only the first 24 hours of Scott’s trip, and there are 5 more days in his Paris trip left.

So here’s my question— why does Scott say that his trip was great and that you should go? Is it because Scott believes that everyone should share in the suffering of travel?

Ok, maybe a little.

But the real reason Scott says it was a great trip is because when he is asked that question by you in the grocery store, he immediately thinks about three particular moments.

He thinks about seeing the Eiffel Tower glitter in the nighttime sky and marveling at how magical it looks. And He remembers this incredible café he visited one evening and seeing people walk up and down the streets. And he has a flashback to his morning walks through the park every morning, seeing people play chess, read the newspaper and eat a croissant.

Scott thinks about the highlights of the trip and doesn’t dwell on the many things that went wrong.

Think about some of your own recent trips.

Your trip to Walt Disney World was full of heat, humidity and long lines. Yet the memory etched into your mind are all the smiles on your child’s face after seeing their favorite Disney characters.

Or maybe your trip to New York City to see Hamilton on Broadway was mind-blowing, but navigating your way through the subway came with its own set of unpleasant experiences.

If you placed a minute-by-minute score on any trip, it’s probably a B-minus at its absolute best.

But as travelers, we don’t grade our trips on a minute-by-minute score. We measure trips by the peaks and the highlights. It’s not that we forget about all the bad moments that happened, it’s just that as travelers, we don’t dwell on them.

But when we are living life, we don’t have that same approach.

We grade our lives by a minute-by-minute score, and we don’t think enough about the bright and special moments found in every one of our days.

Living life with a traveler’s mindset entails three crucial aspects:

#1) Take Inventory

Dedicate time to appreciate positive, even seemingly minor, moments in your day. Moments pass us by if we’re not self-aware enough to cherish them.

You can find fun & creative ways to do this that suits you & your personality the best. Maybe you end your day by writing out the top three things that happened in your day today.

But whatever you do, don’t let a day pass by without reflecting back on your day.

Albert Einstein once said, “Live your life as if nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle.”

Take inventory and find the miracles in each & every day.

#2) Build Peaks

A lot of our mind on any given day is consumed by dealing with and trying to fix problems. And while addressing problems is essential, it can become a distraction to a more effective way to utilize our time.

The Serenity Prayer says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Sometimes we must admit that our time isn’t best spent trying to fix problems that we don’t have control over. What if we took a little bit of time that we used trying to fix problems and instead, used that time & energy to build peaks into our day?

What things bring joy into your life and how can you proactively schedule more of those things?

What if you took just 20% of the time you would spend fixing problems and instead used that time to build more peaks. How might your week look and feel differently?

#3) Live in Day-Tight Compartments

It’s inevitable that things will not always go the way you expect them to, and it’s so easy for frustration to creep into our days in the smallest of ways.

You probably know the story of the Titanic and how it was supposed to be this unsinkable ship, and on its first-ever voyage, it hits an iceberg and sinks to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Here’s what went wrong.

Towards the bottom of the ship, the Titantic was made up of watertight compartments so if the ship was ever impacted, the water wouldn’t be able to spread throughout the ship.

Where things went wrong was that the watertight compartments didn’t have lids on them. So as one watertight compartment filled up, it then spilled onto the next watertight compartment and filled that up.

That went on and on, and soon enough, all the watertight compartments were full and it sank.

Find a way this week to live in day-tight compartments, not allowing a negative experience in one part of the day affect the other.

One person once said, “There’s no such thing as a bad day, just bad moments that we take with us all day long.”

Let’s be clear, there are bad days in life.

But if we are honest, most of the time, our bad days are just composed of bad moments that we couldn’t let go of.

This doesn’t mean that we just pretend that everything is always ok. We can call a bad moment a bad moment. But try not to carry it with you so that it turns into a bad day.


TripAdvisor, one of the top travel review websites in the world, recently reported that they have never experienced a higher average travel review score than in 2023 so far.

Let me say that again, the average global travel review scores on TripAdvisor is beating the average scores in 2019.

How can that be? Aren’t airport delays more common than ever? Hasn’t the workforce shortage given people bad experiences? Aren’t the crowds insane right now?

All of those things are true, and yet, the reviews have never been higher.

Maybe it’s because after the pandemic, people appreciated traveling a little bit more and took joy in the small moments instead of dwelling on all the things that didn’t go according to plan.

We might have not recognized it before, but our mindset shifts when we are traveling.

It’s time to savor each day like the exciting & unique journey that we all are on. And live in anticipation of what great things can be just around the corner.

It’s time to live every day like a traveler.

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