travel

Expectations: The Ultimate Killer of Travel Dreams

I'm fresh off a three week road trip where I journeyed across the country from Los Angeles to Chicago. Unlike other trips where I read books, watched documentaries, pored over blog posts, and talked to fellow travelers about my destination, my goal for this trip was simply to minimize my expectations. While I did a fair amount of research on local hikes, campgrounds, bear safety (yikes!), etc., I wanted to experience the trip without pre-conceived notions of what others had to say about it. 

Journeying across highways and country roads allowed me to simply observe my surroundings, watching and listening without assigning meaning or making assumptions. This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult feats when it comes to traveling across cultures and regions even within your own country.

When advising my gap year and remote work clients, I  encourage them to start their travels with no expectations. This encourages curiosity and a sense of openness.  When travelers minimize expectations, we become more willing to push out of our comfort zones. We more easily adapt to our new environment, and most importantly, we can more easily stay focused on the present. Silvia Plath knew this approach well...

"If you expect nothing from somebody, you'll never be disappointed." - Silvia plath

In embarking on a trip or cultural experience with an open mind and a sense of curiosity, we can more accurately identify what assumptions we're making about whom. We can more easily see that our perspective is just that--our own small perceptions of the world.


the road trip stats:

  • 11 states

  • 2582 miles

  • four national parks (Zion, Yellowstone, mt rushmore, badlands)

  • six state parks/national forests (Custer sp was my fave)

  • one rodeo outing (CODY, WY)

  • 10 campgrounds/cabins/hotel/guest bedrooms

  • 350 bison watched from afar

  • zero bears seen (fine by me!)


Travel picture. USA. Gap Year Counselor.

The Perfect Book For Your Next Long-Haul Flight

It's the time of year where things are finally slowing down. Whether you want to get a head start on prepping for your summer travels or you really just want some down time to cozy up with a cup of hot chocolate, here's the Intercultural Adventures book club pick:

The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business

Picture of the Culture Map book. A recommendation for gap year students and educators.

This book is for every person who has ever left their native land for an experience outside the norm. While it's slanted towards jet-setting international business folks, there is so much great info all packed into a few hundred pages. Author Erin Meyer is a U.S. born cross-cultural communication specialist and university professor who lives in Paris with her family. She offers unapologetic stories from her own experiences on the frontlines of cultural exchange as well as sound advice that we can all use--even when exchanging on our own home turf. 

"When interacting with someone from another culture, try to watch more, listen more, and speak less. Listen before you speak and learn before you act."

Meyer gets into location specific details, which are especially helpful for gappers. She touches on major intercultural communication concepts, like direct vs. indirect communication. Are you spending time in China, Japan, India, or Indonesia? Then you'll have to read between the lines for what ISN'T said. The same goes for many African cultures (Kenya and Zimbabwe) and to a lesser degree some Latin American and Latin European cultures. 

The crux of the book outlines a "culture map" that shows how cultures differ from each other and what you, as the "cultural guest" can do to thrive during your next international sojourn.