Your Life is a Story – Each Path You Choose – A Chapter
I’ve come to realize that no two people interpret the world the exact same way. We all view the world around us through a unique lens that is shaped by our experiences. Each day we have the power to choose these experiences. We choose what we read, watch, listen to, and who we interact with. The story of our lives is written by the choices we make.
One of the most powerful ways to change our perceptions is through travel. Travel changes how we view humanity. Travel changes how we see ourselves. Travel shows us truth and love. The best way to find this is to take the road less traveled.
After our first two trips together, we realized that our best experiences came from the moments when we got lost, found deserted beaches, and befriended the locals. Each time we traveled we went further off the beaten path.
Choosing the road less traveled isn’t for everyone. It’s scary to think about all of the things that could go wrong in a country you’ve never visited and where you don’t speak the language. But the rewards for stepping out of your comfort zone are priceless.
Today we’re going to travel 5,500 miles to the country of Greece. Jer and I were blessed to have the opportunity to take the road less traveled and visit places like Methana, Sifnos, Milos, and Meteora. Through these off the beaten path experiences, we got to know the true Greece, which changed our hearts and minds forever.
Five Ways Taking the Road Less Traveled Ignites Change
When you go off the beaten path, you can’t help but pick up the language. The further you get from the tourist attractions the less you see and hear English.
On a road trip to Northern Greece, we were frustrated to find that the road signs were only in Greek. It was even more frustrating when we realized neither of us could read the Greek alphabet. So there I am, in a World War II Memorial parking lot, trying to learn the alphabet as quickly as possible so we can get to our planned destination.
While a bit unnerving at the time, the benefits of this type of language immersion are priceless. Each time that we are forced to communicate in another language it gets easier. Each time, I learn new patterns and words that help me communicate better in English. Language is a powerful lens that changes how we interact and communicate. Each new experience is priceless.
Since the beginning of time, food has been more than nourishment. It’s a labor of love. It’s social, spiritual, and symbolic. We have encountered some of the most amazing food going off the beaten path while traveling. Foods we bring home with us and change the lens with which we view the world.
On our last night in Athens, we wandered down a dark alley near our hotel and discovered Vassilis. They had the most amazing souvlaki in all of Greece. It was so good that on occasion I had the urge to fly back to Athens just for this dish.
Realizing that was a bit expensive for a plate of lamb, I learned to make it at home. About four times a year, we are transported back to that warm summer night in a quiet neighborhood café. A café we would never have found had we not taken the road (alley) less traveled.
The further you get from the other tourists, the further you can stretch your budget. While the hotels in Athens make you feel at home with American amenities, they come with a price. During our visit, we used hotel rewards, but the going rate at the hotel we chose was close to $200 per night. Compare this to less than $60 per night that we spent in Meteora and you’re talking about $2000 over a two-week trip.
The savings don’t stop with hotels. Small town restaurants offer delicious and inexpensive meals made from scratch. When it comes to sightseeing, you can visit four monasteries in Meteora for the cost of one ticket to the Acropolis. You are sure to experience more for less when you choose the road less traveled. Plus there’s the added benefit of smaller crowds.
History, world religions, and cultural appreciation. While you could learn all of these things in a classroom, you’ll learn a whole lot more if you get out and experience them.
Jer is a huge history nerd! That nerd made walking around Athens fun by making stories of the Roman Empire come alive with Hadrian’s deep dark secrets. (Jer should become a history tour guide. He has the gift of making the most boring things super interesting.)
I loved learning about the Greek Orthodox faith in Meteora. But perhaps the best education you can get while traveling is the cultural immersion. The Greeks are genuinely social people and have mastered the art of slowing down and enjoying the moment. That’s something many Americans could get better at.
Self-confidence is like a muscle that gets stronger the more we exercise it. There is no better way to improve your confidence than by stepping out of your comfort zone. The more often you do things that scare you, the more often you succeed. The more you succeed, the more you realize that you are barely scratching the surface of your potential. Overcoming obstacles, like getting lost in the mountains of central Greece, prove how very capable you are.
Next time you are planning a trip, commit to trying something new. Step out of your comfort zone and go down the road less traveled. Start with baby steps like renting a car for one day. You will never regret the experiences this road leads you to.
When you travel do you prefer to take the road less traveled?
If so, what is your favorite part about it?
If not, what is holding you back?
Share in the comments below.