Whenever I leave for a trip, I’m always asked about which things am I going to see; what exactly I want to see so much that led me to spend time and money planning a trip. The thing is, no matter how interesting and amazing some things and places are, for me, traveling is more about putting myself in situations so different from what I see in my daily life that will end up stretching my definition of normal.
Recently, I was with a group of people traveling from Cape Town to Zanzibar by train. We took a train that was supposed to take us through the border between Zambia and Tanzania and continue to the Great Rift Valley, during a couple of days. One morning, I woke up with a voice saying that we had been stopped for the last five hours. The train already had a delay of 10 hours and, since there was no idea of when it would start moving again, our best option was to rent a van.
The next eight hours were spent inside a small van carrying 13 people and theirs bags. During those hours, we crossed amazing landscapes of green hills and valleys, through roads full of motorcycles and walking people. Unlike in other more touristic places in Tanzania, the people on these roads were surprised by our presence and just as curious about us as we were about them. During a short stop, a group of children coming from school approached us timidly with a surprised expression in their faces. Although they could barely speak English, their empathy and curiosity were so inspiring.
I realized that not having more time to connect to the people there and to properly experience that road trip through the Tanzanian landscapes was actually… a waste of time. Despite that, and regardless of the many other great things I could see during those weeks in Africa, this small memory in a road in Tanzania will always make me smile.
So, when somebody asks me what to plan or bring to a trip, I say: time. Plan time. Bring time. Just as much as you need to connect to people and truly enjoy the experiences you want to live. The things, those you can see them very quickly. Enjoy your travels!