“Man I love this place! Such a relaxed vibe, perfect weather, epic surf, and most of all, great people.” It’s pretty crazy that I thought this while only 2 days ago I felt very empty, uninspired, and bored. Strange thing, I was still in the same location.
I believe that your travel experience can change completely and rapidly while not moving at all. That’s a realization I made in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. If you haven’t read my article on being respectful but staying honest, give it a quick read as this story continues on it.
We’re back on track!
I had just made pretty radical decision to leave my workaway host after only 2 days of being there. I felt a little strange because suddenly my whole planning for the next month was empty. Although my experience had been pretty negative at my work away experience, I wasn’t ready to leave Puerto Escondido yet. I felt that this place still had a lot of experience to offer.
So after a quick search online I found another workaway experience in a hostel nearby. “Well, I’ve got nothing to lose. Let’s go and check it out.” Twenty minutes walking later I arrive at hostel Shalom. I booked for three nights just to get settled in and see whether I would like to stay there for a longer.
The typical Shalom Hostal vibes, BBQ time is on!
I only needed one day though. I had been talking with various people from all over the world. Exchanging travel stories with Israelis, Australians, Argentinians, Japanese, you name it. The hostel also was right next to an awesome tropical little beach called Carizalillo, with mellow surf, cheap coconuts and perfect sunsets. At night we would gather with various travelers and local Mexicans to share some delicious tacos and drinks, tell travel stories and laugh away.
“Oh yes baby, this is it, we’re back on track!” I even decided to just book a room for a whole month because the prices were so damn cheap.
From there on forward every day was awesome. Going to local fresh food markets, scoring barrels on the famous Zicatela surf break, crazy salsa parties with Mexicans, delicious tamales and agua de Jamaica on every corner of every street. Yes, Mexico was very hard on me.
After a week I realized how strange it was that I was still in the same place that I hated only a week earlier. It was funny how my perception of every place in Puerto changed. I had gone to all of the same places with my workaway host before, but it was just so different right now, it was like another world.
The thing is that my negative thoughts about Puerto Escondido were merely a reflection of the personal situation I was in, I was almost only spending time with my workaway host. When this situation changed it was as if the whole city changed. What seemed boring and quiet before turned into a young, energetic, vibrant and multicultural place, just because the people around me changed.
Friends, beach, stars, lighting. Nothing like Carizalillo nights.
The people matter more
All of this makes sense of course. Every person has his own attitude and energy, and whether you like it or not you will always be influenced by the energy of those around you. It’s just funny how to scan really shape your whole travel experience, regardless of what the physical environment is like.
I do not want to say that the location does not have any influence whatsoever. Going for a hiking adventure in the alps will still be very different than a surfing holiday in Hawaii, even if you would go with the same people. However, changing the group of people you’re with might have more of an effect than you think.
I think this partially explains why some people love a particular travel destination while others might hate it. Think about it, take any destination you traveled to. What are the first memories that come to mind? I think for many you will quickly remember the people you were with. You think of those moments you had together. The people themselves might even remind you of that travel destination. They were just an inherent part of your journey and therefore they largely shape your travel experience.
“Okay”, you might think, “I guess that all kind of makes sense to me. But what does it matter?” Well, a lot in my opinion. It mainly showed me that there’s a lot of opportunities to change things around. Also, every person’s experience of visiting a certain place will be different.
Since there are so many ways to experience the same destination, I realized I shouldn’t be worried about having the perfect holiday. Because it doesn’t really exist, there’s just many different ways of experiencing it. So, if it doesn’t matter, just have fun!
I loved hanging with travel friends. But solo time in the hammock wasn’t something I complained about 😉
I’ve learned that I just want to focus more on what I like doing, and make sure that I have people around me who want to do the same thing. Sometimes that means parting ways, even if it’s just for a while. That might be hard or discomforting, but I believe that all persons involved will have a travel experience that is more fun and fulfilling by doing the things they like doing.
So make sure to think well about whom you will be sharing your journey with. Because they will probably shape the experience more than the destination itself.