How To Smile Your Face Off On Your Next Trip

How To Smile Your Face Off On Your Next Trip

Ingredient of Fulfilled Travel: Joy

What is life without experiencing pure joy, that lightness of being? Don’t we want this everyday? And isn’t it why we travel?

We travel for many reasons, but often because we are looking for something different from the humdrum of the daily grind. We want to wake up. To be reminded.

Travel has that power to shake us and say,

‘Isn’t life AMAZING!!! Isn’t it BEAUTIFUL? Did you ever think something so amazing could exist???’

We want to smile so big our face hurts, to laugh out loud, to feel alive. To experience that powerful combination of gratitude and wonder.

It is possible to feel this in our daily lives if we look for those special moments in the mundane and put effort towards cultivating it. But when traveling somewhere new with different sights, people, animals, and activities joy seems more easily available. It is one of the ingredients of fulfilled travel.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”  Marianne Williamson

Think about the journeys you have had that brought you the most satisfaction. The ones that really stick out in your memory. The experiences that bring a smile to your face. What were you doing?

For me, one experience traveling that made feel a boost of joy was on a work trip to New Zealand that was filled with weekend adventures.

I learned to ride a penny farthing.

A pennyfarthing? You know, one of those old-timey bikes with the big front wheel and small back wheel. It was something I had always been intrigued about, I mean, is it actually possible to ride? Well, I found out.

In Omaru, a little town on the east coast of the south island, I found a little bike shop filled to the brim with old penny farthings and ended up chatting with the owner, a legit penny fartherer. He held the record of the only guy to ride the length of New Zealand on a penny farthing and in old-timey clothing to boot!

And he offered me a lesson. I could not turn him down.

So the next day, I grabbed my top hat and went back, paid my $20 NZD. I started off on the smallest bicycle and rode around the block, then graduated to a medium sized and then finally the biggest one. All with instruction, supervision and, of course, a helmet. New Zealand is the land of adventure sports, and don’t even try to tell me that riding a penny farthing is not dangerous, if you lean forward a touch too much you are in for a serious OTB situation and a long way to fall.

After awhile of riding sketchily around the parking lot, it was time for the lesson to end and for a quick picture- a document of my huge smile. Joy comes to me just remembering this experience. And I am so glad I didn’t write off my desire as something silly, especially because the very next day he was closing down his shop forever. I guess there just isn’t a market for penny farthings anymore, and not many people willing to risk their front teeth for lessons.


What brings you joy in travel? Some options:

  • MEETING NEW PEOPLE. There is a special connection that is made with the people you meet while traveling. Whether you go on a sailing trip with some Aussies, surf with the Irish, or climb through caves with Puerto Ricans, having an experience with people from another place can really create a memorable bond whether or not you interact again. When you travel you connect with people from different backgrounds on the powerful level of being human.
  • DANCING. Dancing can bring us delight anywhere and if you look at most cultures there is a form of dance: hula, samba, salsa, tango, belly dance, flamenco, Bharatanatyam (and the hundreds of other types of dance in India), Kabuki, and more. It is something that is inherent in our being of expression, connection, creativity, and joy. Learn a new culture through their dance and expect to try it yourself if you want the joyful benefits, no matter how silly you look. And at the very least listen to some local music, you may just find yourself adding it to your playlist and dancing to it at home in your living room (you do that too, right? Right???).
  • SINGING. Very similar to dance, in that every culture has a unique way of expression through song. And whether you have a good voice or not, singing in a group or community brings connection and bliss.
  • SEEING WILD ANIMALS. I vividly remember the time I was in a bad mood on a boat and then saw dolphins. These playful creatures came right up and brought out the smile that was resisting showing itself. There is is something special about seeing wild animals that brings smiles internally and externally.
  • SWIMMING IN THE WAVES. I know I feel like a joyful kid again when I am playing in the waves of the ocean and getting tumbled around. Get out there and get some water up your nose!
  • ACTING SILLY AND BEING WEIRD. Travel with the people who bring out your silly side. A cool part of traveling is that you most likely will never see the people outside your travel group again so you can let your silly side free to make yourself and others laugh, smile and be playful.
  • SERVING OTHER PEOPLE. Travel allows for many opportunities big and small to support others. Whether it’s bringing water filters into a village, helping someone with their bags or even listening to someone’s life experience, nothing boosts the soul like serving others.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” Rumi

Know what brings you joy and listen to those desires, even if they are silly, they can bring a deep satisfaction into your travels and your life. Not only the remembering of these experiences will bring you joy in the future, but they might also inspire you to continue to search out these joyful experiences while at home.

What brings you joy in travel???


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3 thoughts on “How To Smile Your Face Off On Your Next Trip

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