Why I Rarely Research Before Traveling

chelsea fuss
Through talking with other travelers and living on the road myself, I’ve realized something that might seem obvious in theory, but a little more out of reach in practice. The most exciting part of travel is discovery. It´s that feeling of awe. Of being overcome with beauty after seeing something for the very first time, a new part of the world, and most importantly something completely unexpected.

Of course you don’t have to travel to experience awe, but I think mentioning this in the context of travel is interesting. Last year I read this article in the NYT by By Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner (a short and sweet, must-read!) about why we experience awe, and how important it is to feel this emotion regularly. A few excerpts I loved:

We humans, by contrast, can get goose bumps when we experience awe, that often-positive feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world.

Our research finds that even brief experiences of awe, such as being amid beautiful tall trees, lead people to feel less narcissistic and entitled and more attuned to the common humanity people share with one another.

Of course I think you can experience awe just through the tiniest things. I am someone that becomes excited by the most random things, like this funny article at The Onion about a couple verbalizing everything they see at the farmers market! Hahaha! I´ll become completely beside myself over things like: beautiful laundry waving in the wind, a granny’s lovely face as I am out for my morning walk, the way a cup of tea is presented, flowery weeds poking up in the sidewalk. I’ve found my most awe-inspiring moments in travel come through these small finds, and through the unexpected. And that´s where this idea of no research comes in.