In today’s Why We Travel post, I interview Michelle Della Giovanna, the brains behind the blog “
Describe your first transformative travel experience.
My first transformative travel experience was when I went to a 10-day silent retreat in Thailand. I knew it would be difficult, but it ended up being the hardest thing I’d ever done. I thought I was going crazy, but at the end it really changed the way I see things. I realized how few material items I need to be happy. I also learned to quiet my mind which was a huge change for me. My mind normally goes 1,000 miles a minute with useless thoughts.
Why is travel important to you personally?
When I started traveling, I just wanted to do cool things. Now, it’s so much more than that. I love learning about other cultures. My perspective on things has changed so much over the last three years. I’ve always been an open minded person, but every day I get to see things from a new point of view, and every day I realize how everyone in the world is so different and yet so similar. Seeing how other people live, what makes them happy, and what their daily routine is like is why I love traveling so much.
How would you describe your travel “style”?
I started out as a budget backpacker. It was great for the first year, but the longer I was on the road, the higher my standards got. I still stay in cheap hotels when I’m on the road but I prefer to have my own room instead of going dorm style. I do a lot of trekking in the Himalayas and the rooms are basic. If I’m not trekking, I want to be able to relax a little and enjoy. Roughing it all the time can be exhausting. I need a little balance.
What tips do you have for travelers to make their experiences more meaningful?
I think it’s really important to plan, but you shouldn’t over plan. That sounds like a big contradiction, but it’s true. Be safe, have what you need, know where you kind of want to go, but then stop. Don’t plan every little detail. You need room to live in the moment and to accept opportunities that arise on the go. Also, leave a few days to get lost. I hate when people tell me you can see a city in a day. I usually take 3 days to do the tourist stuff and leave 2 days to see the stuff no one else does. It’s amazing how many experiences I’ve had because I left time after the tourist checklist.
What are your favorite travel-related books, movies, paintings, poems, songs, etc.?
Right now, I’m reading a book called A Fortune Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani. It’s one of my most favorite books. It’s full of interesting facts about different countries in Asia and how superstition helped to form each country and the people in it. I’m also a big fan of the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” I’ve probably seen it a dozen times, and it always gets me ready for an adventure.
I’ve always thought of myself as an open-minded person but before I traveled I only had one view of the world. Now, I’ve seen the world from a few different angles, and I feel like I have so much more to learn. Travel has shown me how small I am compared to the grand scheme of things. It’s offered me a perspective I’d never had before. It’s opened my eyes to different cultures and ways of life. It’s taught me to respect different ways of doing things. It’s honestly made me a better person, and I hope to continue to grow.
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