We humans love to give each other advice; advice on how to raise children, how to invest money, how to dress and how to travel. You know if I were you have become some of the most dreaded words to hear, especially when they’re coming from your boss or mother. While it is a good idea to learn from others, it’s not just humans who have something to teach you. Animals know a thing or two about traveling, too. In fact some of the best travel advice you might ever get could come from your furry, feathered and scaly friends.
What Animals Teach Us about Traveling?
Travel Light – When was the last time you saw a bear in high heels? That’s right; you haven’t (although that would be pretty cool). That’s because animals understand better than us humans that if you can’t carry it on your back, you don’t need it to travel. Even the savviest human packers end a day of traveling with their lower back aching from an overstuffed bag. All those extra pairs of socks and spare set of sheets you brought “just in case” wind up taking up space without ever being used. Take notes from the animals you encounter. Instead of being weighted down by unnecessary baggage, animals are free to run, jump and squeeze into tiny caves.
Listen to Your Instincts – There’s a reason your gut is telling you not to get into that cab. There’s a reason something doesn’t feel quite right about that dodgy hotel at the end of the road. If your instincts are telling you to run, then run. Animals trust their instincts. Maybe that’s why they seem to know tsunamis and forest fires are coming long before humans do. They understand that instincts are there for a reason and shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of being polite. Follow their lead – and follow your instincts to avoid sticky situations when traveling.
Be Yourself – It’s tempting to try and fit in, especially when you’re meeting new people and trying to get along with new travel companions. But compromising who you are means you compromise a piece of the whole traveling experience. The reason you are traveling is so you can experience new places and ways of life. Learn from your friends in the animal kingdom. A cheetah rarely worries what others think of him. He’s a cheetah whether he’s in Africa, Asia or Antarctica. An elephant is an elephant and a warthog is a warthog. No need for pretending to be interested in pottery when you’re not, or worrying about sounding witty at dinner. Animals are unapologetically themselves. No matter where you travel, remember to be you.
Adapt – Being yourself doesn’t mean you being difficult or overly stubborn. Traveling requires you to adapt to new ways of life and take the unknown in stride. You are bound to meet suspicious foods, beds and trains along your journey. As long as your instincts tell you everything’s ok, learn to adapt to these foreign encounters. Animals are great at this. Bears adapt to food shortages by hibernating when it’s cold and chowing down when it’s warm. Chameleons adapt to the surrounding palettes by changing color to blend in. Horses adapt to the seasons with thickened fur for winter and shedding like a mad thing when summer comes. Animals don’t compromise who they are fundamentally, but they do make allowances for the circumstances around them.
Have Fun – Traveling should be eye opening, memorable but mostly just plain fun. Yet sometimes in the flurry of following maps and hopping planes, we humans push fun aside. Animals know better. They find fun in the simple things around them and don’t need elaborate clubs or shows to keep them entertained. A dog is happy to dig a hole in the sand or play with a piece of seaweed. Cows are content with just a few blades of grass. Pigs find joy in a deliciously cool spot of mud and zebras savor the freedom of running uninhibitedly. Take a cue from animals and have fun when you travel.
What have you learned from animals?