People often ask me how I’m able to travel. It’s one of the most common questions I get on this site, second only to North Dakota travel questions and suggestions for trip itineraries in the upper Midwest. (There aren’t a lot of travel writers based in this part of the world, so those requests keep me pretty busy!)
At first, I assumed people wanted to know how I was able to get time off or how I budgeted my time or money. But they weren’t just making curious conversation. Most people who took the time to reach out were actually asking for detailed travel planning instructions.
They wanted to know how I decide where to visit and how I break down the trip planning process into steps so they could do it too. They wanted tips and tricks and organizational strategies. They recognized that part of the travel planning process was frustrating them and they want to figure out how to identify it and fix it so they can finally take that trip they’ve been thinking about for years.
Sometimes the same questions are hiding behind a request for information closer to home. For every email and comment I get from a traveler planning their first trip to the Midwest, I’ll get twice as many from people that have lived here for years and are stunned to realize that a new restaurant, shop or attraction has opened in their neighborhood and they had no idea. Or they’ll have friends coming to visit and realize that they have no clue where to take them.
“How do you find this stuff?” they ask. I always tell people that it’s not hard. Anyone can train themselves to do what I do.
Being a reporter requires using your senses to take in information, developing a sense of curiosity and connecting with other people to learn more about the world from another point of view. That’s really what being an engaged human being and a good traveler are about too. When you work on developing your empathy, curiosity and flexibility and really honing your observational skills, life gets a lot more interesting, whether you travel across the world or learn to see your own neighborhood with new eyes.
Travel planning is a skill that involves research, organization and strategy. Learning to truly take in your surroundings and connect with other people is a skill too. And like any skill, you can improve if you practice.
So I’m happy to merge my two skill sets into a new course that teaches you how to live like a traveler in your own town. I’m really excited about it, because this course’s content has come from years of my own experience and hours of conversations with other travelers.
You’ll learn about your own travel style so you can find experiences you’re most likely to enjoy (both at home and on vacation) and identify your own organizational strengths and weaknesses so you can plan more effectively. We’ll talk strategies and itineraries a bit, but I really want you to leave feeling confident that you can find your way in the world and put together a plan that works for you.
Perhaps most importantly, this class will help you develop techniques to engage your senses and appreciate your surroundings right now, so you don’t have to wait to go on vacation to feel that sense of excitement, relaxation or purpose that a trip can bring. You can discover new places in your own town and connect with that sense of novelty and excitement without ever leaving home. And that makes life more fun, whether you’re scheduling trips across the globe or exploring your own area in depth.
So if you happen to live in my neighborhood, you can actually sign up for the first round of classes through the excellent Moorhead Community Education program, which will be held in Moorhead, Minnesota on October 4 and 11. If you don’t, I’d love to come give a presentation (or a series of presentations) in your city.
For those of you who aren’t into a classroom setting or live outside the Midwest, I need your advice. How would you prefer to get this information? An ebook? A series of blog posts? Videos? A Facebook community or email newsletter? A webinar or one-on-one coaching sessions?
I’m open to suggestions. This idea came from you in the first place and it was interactions with readers like you that helped me refine my advice and approach.
So let’s talk travel, both close to home and far away. Tell me more about how I can help and what you’re curious about (and anything else you want to chat about) below or email me if you’d like to talk one-on-one.
What about you?
What’s your biggest travel obstacle?
What information can I give you that would help you overcome that obstacle?
What frustrates you about travel planning?
If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why?
How would you like to get information about travel planning?
How can I help you take the next step to become the kind of traveler you want to be?
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Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved.