We woke up early on our final morning in Oaxaca MX and came up with five remaining SMART Tips we can all use for both travel and the journey of life. Overall our vacation in Mexico has introduced us to captivating and interesting sites and experiences. Everywhere we’ve gone we’ve met friendly, kind and generous people. The variety, quality and presentation of the food and beverages have been asombroso (amazing). And like the very best of travel, we have learned more about ourselves and discovered that people everywhere mainly strive for the same things—love, meaning, peace and a sense of purpose. How SMART is that?
With that in mind our five final SMART Travel Tips are:
#1 End your trip on the highest note possible. I read one time that scientific studies show that people who had good and positive memories about the end of their trip remember the ENTIRE trip in a more rewarding light. Our primary destination for this trip was Oaxaca, MX because when I first heard that it is considered the artistic “heart” of Mexico I knew I wanted to go. Then when I originally began planning the trip I arranged our time in Oaxaca at the end along with the most days. This turned out to be an excellent plan for many reasons—and certainly because we saved the best for last.
#2 Seek your vibe (Place). While I realize that this sounds rather “new-agey” we feel that it focuses on the fact that every one of us will feel more connected to certain locations than others. Even though it took us nearly eight years to arrive in Oaxaca after first learning about it, almost instantly we both felt that this location was our favorite from the time we arrived. Both Thom and I resonated with the city, the people, the food and all we encountered. Knowing whether you are a city person, a country person, or what type of place (and people) feels best to you, is an important step in successful travel.
3 Be where you are. When experiencing a multi-location trip it is tempting to spend time thinking back on what you did (or didn’t do) in the last location or what comes next—or worse, what’s back home. But the primary purpose of travel should be the day, and the “now” right in front of us. Some of our most memorable experiences were sitting over a glass of wine at sunset or chatting about local life over lunch with our tour guides. And while we have photos of the sites, the memories of some of our sweeter experiences could only be felt. Stay present in the moments as much as possible.
#4 Make the effort to connect to others. Something that Thom has always been very good at is taking the time to learn some phrases in the language of every country we visit. On top of that Thom is excellent in engaging people in conversation about themselves and their world. Again, some of our strongest memories were the people we met in every location we have traveled to—either the local people or other travelers. What makes so many of our memories strong and rewarding is the connections and relationships we have made along the way.
#5 Make sure the trip supports your values and priorities. Two of the best experiences here in Oaxaca had to do with guides taking us to meet the people of the area and introducing us to their lives and their work. The first is an organization named En Via which supports local women in creating, expanding and developing individual businesses. En Via provides small loans to women at no interest to support their business/work. But even better, they provide counseling and ongoing support for their lives. The money we paid for the tour is used to provide loans to the women and we were able to meet with over five women in the program who are doing their best to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Very inspiring!
Another tour we took was a Mezcal tour of small, local and artisan families who make what is the second largest “industry” in Oaxaca. Going out into the countryside and visiting these extremely humble places of business where the long and laborious process happens was eye-opening. Plus, meeting the unassuming but friendly people was equally beneficial. Because Thom and I believe so much in supporting other people’s dreams and aspirations in life, both of these tours (and the money we paid) helped to make our visit to Oaxaca extra special.
Our journey to Mexico and our last three weeks has been everything we hoped it would be. But in spite of the fact that we have had an amazing time, one of the best things we always remember when we travel is how very fortunate our lives are and the many benefits that we enjoy on a regular basis. Sometimes it is SMART to get away from everyday routines to really know and appreciate that on every level. Plus, it is also SMART to remember that every single time we travel it is merely another step on the overall journey of our lives—so let’s all do our best to make it meaningful, peaceful and as happy as possible.