It’s a new year, time for resolutions and other halfhearted attempts to change aspects of one’s life. I stopped making resolutions a long time ago, figuring that if I wanted to, I could do it any time. I don’t need to wait for the new year to make a commitment to change.
That said, I thought of how 2013 is going to be different for me as a traveler. A reader once asked me how I was going to top 2012. I backpacked in Europe for 70 days, wrote the viral post Date a Girl Who Travels, and was interviewed by CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg himself. What will I do in 2013 that would exceed my accomplishments last year?
If I took the question seriously, I would probably be stuck in stasis, for in fact, there is nothing I can do. I didn’t mean to achieve those things. It just happened.
It just happened.
My clinical psychology background rebels at that statement, of course. It sounds so passive, when, in fact, the opposite is true. I made things happen. I decided to backpack in Europe, and I wrote the viral post. I had also decided to accept Peter Greenberg’s invitation to be interviewed on radio.
My point is that no matter what I had done last year, it was already in the past. This year, I will definitely not obsessively try to exceed my achievements in 2012. I will just do what I want to do and what I think is best for me, and one of them is to have more meaningful travels, whether solo or with others.
A meaningful travel is not the same as voluntourism. I will not pay a tour operator in Thailand or Cambodia to bring me to an orphanage so that I can feel good for a few hours. I have worked in the social development field for over eight years, and I have seen firsthand how well-intentioned travelers can directly or indirectly harm the people they want to help when they volunteer for a few hours without considering the impact of their actions on the community in general.
I would want to stay longer in a place and work strategically with an organization that works in the community. I don’t know if I’m ready to go back to counseling abused women and children again, but I can certainly offer other skills. I’m already excited thinking about where I can do that!
In the meantime, I’m planning my backpacking trip in northern India, reading lots of articles on how to travel safe there as a woman. Given the news about the Delhi rape case, safety is definitely on top of my list to consider before my flight to Calcutta.
No matter what happens in 2013, whether I live up to the expectations set by the events in 2012, there’s only one thing I can say, to paraphrase a saying that has been going around lately: it’s not where I’ve been that matters, it’s where I am going.
And in 2013, I’m going forward, I’m moving on.
This is my entry to the January 2013 Blog Carnival of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers called “2013: New Beginnings” and hosted by Roj Braga of The Adventures of AdventuRoj.
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oh India!! it has always been a dream..
Good luck with your travels this year, Aleah!
Thanks for the link about voluntourism. Very enlightening.
Great post. I’ll be stalking your articles in Europe coz I wanna go there soon. ^_^
Meanwhile, India has been a challenge to me but that’s the country where I learned the hardcores of backpacking. I’m sure you’ll survive it. ^_^
Have a great trip in India, Aleah. It’s a fascinating country, a place of great contrast. It’s colorful, it’s bleak, it’s intense, it’s calming, it’s disgusting, it’s endearing. Pack a lot of open-mindedness and sense of humor and you’ll have a great trip:)
sobrang memorable yan salagdoong na yan sakin!
I may have to go back, maybe to make sure to jump off the ledge this time… or settle there for good, who knows?!
I love this post Aleah. Feel na feel q xa! hehe. nakrelate aco sa mga travels na it’s just happened.
gsto ko tong linya na to: It’s not where I’ve been that matters, it’s where I am going.
Impressive nag counseled ka ng mga abused women and children! Cheers to more travels and adventure this year! 🙂 Good luck sa India Trip mo at sana ma meet kita soon! 🙂
i’m looking forward to reading your stories about your trip to india,kakainggit!india is one of my dream destinations
Hey, I really enjoy your post 🙂 I’ve just finished my internship in India and I did travel a lot during this time there. So if you need any information about travelling in North India, you can absolutely feel free to contact me 🙂
yeah, i think everyone wants to move on forward to better things in the future. i need to create a plan with deadlines to achieve my goals, step by step. i probably achieved some stuff in 2012, but i would liked to have achieved much more goals.
You’re spot on about not having to wait for the New Year to make changes, and past has already happened. Most things happen automatically when we keep doing what we do. So I guess you can just do that and you’ll be pleasantly surprised 🙂
wow na wow! good luck
I really love your blog! “It’s not where I’ve been that matters, it’s where I’m going” — Someday I will travel a lot and share my experiences like you do 🙂 Looking forward to more of your adventures this 2013!
Wow! You’ve counseled abused women and children! That’s definitely something you can do if you indeed stay longer in one place, as you mentioned.
I agree that some voluntourism (like the orphanage example you gave) may do more harm than good.
Here’s to more meaningful travels!
“It’s not where I’ve been that matters, it’s where I am going”. So true! For my case, now that I am married my priorities are no longer the same, looking back I am glad that I had a chance to travel. For sure now and onwards my travels will only be work related or family oriented! hehe.. goodluck to me. sana mahiritan ko si hubby to let me travel alone once in a while.. 😉
It was a great year indeed and good luck Aleah for more meaningful travels this year. I’m very sure that your hand will go along way for the people you will touch.
Hi Aleah, what a wonderful post. I feel so inspired by your positive energy! I can’t wait to read up on your meaningful travels this year and thank you for sharing them.
Things happen to those who work to get them. 🙂 Wishing you more meaningful travels and everything that will make you happiest!