Monday, April 20, 2009

A travel philosophy

One of my new favorite bloggers, Chris Guillebeau, posted a list of recommendations for international travel on Not all of the recommendations apply to our coming trip, but one that my wife and I really liked is to come up with a travel philosophy for our time in Guatemala.

There's never enough time to do everything in any location, and while a 3 month stay makes it easier than a lightning vacation, its still a problem. It makes sense to figure out ahead of time what you really want out of the trip, and use that to guide you.

So while we were running other errands trying to prepare, T and I talked out our priorities for our time in Guatemala; luckily we had a very similar set in mind.

Our number one priority is to get to know the people and the culture. To get a feel for how people in this very different place view the world and live life. This was our big reason for choosing to go to one city and stay there for three months, rather than traveling through a number of places.

Beyond this priority, we have a few others: improving our skills in Spanish, stretching ourselves by being outside of our comfort zones a little, and of course having fun!

While we've both spent some time in Europe, and Israel, neither of us has been outside of the US for any length of time, especially not in a third world country. Living abroad for three months is a definite stretch, and I think that having decided to do it has already changed my perspective on traveling and living simply. I am looking forward a lot to the experience.

One final thing that doing this exercise made clear: While Guatemala has amazing Mayan temples, incredible volcanos and hotsprings, and some fascinating jungles, pushing to see all of them is not a priority for us. I certainly hope we'll have the chance to see some, but if we don't I won't be too disappointed. We'll have another chance, and for this trip the focus is on living in Xela, not in touring Guatemala.

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