It is something intangible that makes a place special and different from any other. It is in its history and culture, its customs, traditions and language. It lives within its people as thoughts, beliefs and ideas. It manifests in its nature, in landscapes viewed in a certain light, in the atmosphere of the woods, in weather and wildlife. It is in every one of these things and in all of them as they influence each other. Find it
In order to discover the true spirit of a place, we believe that you have to look for it in its natural environment, somewhere that is not corrupted by the tourism industry and other forms of cultural imperialism. Get in touch with real people, individuals who are not working in tourism or trying to sell you anything. Find it especially in the unknown and untouched places in the middle of nowhere, where you can immerse yourself deeply in an unadulterated culture, get to know its people and customs.
Don't spend your time traveling in cities. Due to the cultural homogenization that comes with globalization the city experience is similar wherever you go — especially as a traveler. It's just another string of sights, restaurants, monuments, hotels, plazas, museums and bars amongst skyscrapers and millions of strangers rushing past each other in between places. And it doesn't represent the land. So make sure you get out of the Big Smoke, off the beaten path and explore the countryside.
Traveling brings you in contact with many cultures and even more individuals. With every conversation we share ideas and have new insights. We get to know different lifestyles and viewpoints, some of which are unique to the culture. Some of these ideas you will integrate with your own and like that the experience changes you. It gives you a broader view and helps put things in perspective. You will look on your current life differently — it's like seeing through an illusion and after that being unable to unsee it.
All we ever have is now, the present moment. The past is gone. Why don't we let it go? It cannot make us happy. The future will never be like we imagine it to be. It cannot bring us salvation. Living our lives either reminiscing about the past or imagining and planning the future we miss the only thing that we really have and are able influence, the present moment.
We are creating our memories — that is, our past — through experiencing the current moment. We deal with events in the imaginary future as they arrive in the Now. This is all we have. Don't let life pass you by.
We try not to judge situations prematurely: We know that our biggest mistakes often turn out to be our most valuable lessons. That in fact, mistakes and challenges are far better teachers than successes and comfort. As each lesson learned lets us grow as a person, so does every challenge.
Facing our fears is a major challenge. But practicing it we experience a huge benefit: A life free from fear and with the supreme confidence that we can handle whatever life throws your way.
Why is it called comfort zone? Because we're only comfortable inside, that is, uncomfortable leaving it. Because what's inside we know. But what's expecting us on the outside we don't. We're afraid of the unknown and make up excuses to stay inside. We've been there and know what we're talking about. It's so easy to get stuck in it.
So if there was life inside the comfort zone — why is it that days just blend into each other when we're in the daily grind? Why do we feel so stuck? Why does life seem so dull?
And once we get out of it on occasion — why do we suddenly feel so alive? Why are those the times we have our most vivid memories of? Because outside of it we make new experiences without which there is no perceived life.
Does that fancy car make us happy? The house? The boat? Another car? Fame? If yes, why then are there psychiatrists that cater only to the rich and famous — and mainly treat depression? If we really need all that, why are there people that can fit all their belongings into a backpack and claim they're happy?
From time to time this nagging voice in our head raises the question: Is this everything? And we try our best to mute it, to put it off and soldier on, bury ourselves in work, shut it out. Because it scares us.
But whose values are we following? Who profits from us putting our money into banks and insurances? Into toys and gadgets that we buy and then lose interest in?
Whose expectations are we trying to fulfill? Those of our parents? They will die. Those of our partners or friends? Let's be real — odds are they won't be around forever either. Must we wait until it's too late to realize that we were always only accountable to ourselves?
Deep down we know that this rat race can't be it. But not knowing our options leaves us without a choice.
Now we do not advertise that you to simply drop out of everything. We merely want you to have a choice. To make an informed decision.
Neither do we want to imply that it is bad to have a steady job. We only think it is bad if you have it for the wrong reasons. Ask yourself: Would you do what you're doing right now if you weren't getting paid for it? Just because you love doing it? If your answer is yes, we have little to offer you but a good time. If your answer is no, we — respectfully — think you are wasting your time. And offer you a world full of alternatives. We offer you a choice. So what's it going to be — blue pill or red pill, Neo?
So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. — Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
There is so much more to life than the dangling carrot we are conditioned to chase. The promise that keeps us looking to the future for fulfillment and happiness. To some point in time when we will have made it and will truly start living. After we've finished school or uni. Once we have a secure job. Or a house. Or a family. Or when that promotion comes around. Maybe after retirement. Maybe we'll travel the world then.
We work our whole life in a job we hate to pile up money and possessions — only to realize on our deathbed that we can't take them with us. That we waited our whole life to finally start living. We make career choices that leave us wasting the best hours of every day for a footnote in our CVs. To climb the next rank of the ladder. Rinse and repeat. Don't let life pass you by. It's happening right now.
As a side note: This applies to the small scale too. Don't do things thinking about what you have to do next or tomorrow. If you are, you're living in a state of restlessness and are missing out on the moment. Give your full attention to what you're doing right now. If you do, you'll find out how deeply satisfying that can be. And yes, thinking about what to do next is doing something.
We want to take you by the hand, lead you into the unknown and show you that there's nothing to be afraid of — in travel as in life. We don't ask you to to something that is objectively dangerous. Just to try to let go of your fear or — if you can't do that — overcome it for the first few times. To find out that it is unfounded. To see it for the silly phantom that it really is.
Are you afraid of losing your friends? Don't worry, they'll still be there chugging on when you get back. The only thing threatening your relationship will be the fact that your experiences will have transformed you into a different person while they will seem not to have changed much at all living in their comfort zones.
Do you fear that you will be alone on your journey? You won't be, we can promise you that much with absolute certainty — because we have experienced it. Quite to the contrary, you'll make so many new friends out there you'll regularly mix up where or when it was exactly you met them. If your experience is anything like ours, you'll probably have trouble finding some alone-time.
Are you afraid of losing or wasting time traveling? Because you have to advance your career? Are you afraid of having to explain that gap in your CV? Of losing your job? Rest assured, if you really want to return to the rat race, it's not going away any time soon. You probably won't though. Because you'll realize that it's the rat race where you really waste your time. But if you return, you'll do it on your terms.
Our point being: mainstream tourism just about completely misses it. Not only that, it is actually poisonous to the places it enters. In the way that it corrupts them until none of their true spirit is left.
We are dropped off for just long enough to take a photo somewhere
only to be rushed off on another sweaty four hour bus ride to do the same at the next destination.
Come on, don't stray, don't dawdle,
we have a schedule to keep.
Feel free to spontaneously explore the restrooms before we leave and relax* in your recliner on the bus
or later at the pool.
* Earplugs and sleep mask not included.
You are herded along in large groups and transported in sweaty tour buses. Everywhere you arrive, two or three other busloads are already on site or spilling out right there and then.
Your individuality is reduced to your combination of choices between Full English or Continental, tea or coffee, meat or vegetarian.
Traveling with the mainstream the world that is shown to you consists of touristic sites, hotels, hostels and backpacker bars. All the places the locals shun because they're just too fake and "touristy".
The only people you meet are other tourists and people working in the tourism industry. In some extreme cases travelers are grouped by country of origin minimizing even the exchange with foreign tourists.
And we are partly to blame for that:
We absolutely have to go to the no. 1 lookout. That's why they call it a must-see location. It's the main reason we are actually on this trip for and we've planned our whole itinerary around it. We already know that the view is awesome because there's about a million photos on the web. Nobody told us though that we would walk there on a concreted path. Or that we would be enclosed by a chain-link fence every step of the way. And a reinforced one at the site itself. A fence that is necessary to keep the other 200 adventurers — who are already there taking selfies — from collectively pushing off the cliff.
Seriously, we believe we're better off not going to the top touristic locations because we're turned off by the experience. We know we can have a better time heading off into the unknown.
We sit by the pool instead of walking an empty beach where our footprints are the only ones for miles around. Well, at least in the pool there are no potentially dangerous animals. Of that we can be reasonably sure because nothing would survive the amount of chemicals in there.
It is with a sad irony, that tourism digs its own grave wherever it goes: By its way of standardizing the travel experience it distorts the reason it came there in the first place and ultimately drives the true spirit, the uniqueness right out of every place it enters. It builds up, secures, makes accessible, provides infrastructure and finally unleashes thousands of tourists on it every day.
Mainstream tourism is the traveling equivalent of eating at a fast food franchise. You are fed a generic experience and might as well have gotten it in any other country — or stayed at home altogether. Because the same recipe is served up all over the world without ever changing it. The world you see is the world that is shown to you — made out of plastic, prepped up and fake. Reality is hidden away from you. The experience is homogenized and therefore exchangeable.
In comparison, discovering the true spirit is like eating street food. You never know what you're going to get, but it's fresh, affordable, unique and authentic to the place you find it in. It tickles your taste buds with an original flavor. It broadens your palate. Nothing is hidden from you, reality is laid open before your eyes. And it comes wrapped in adventure at no extra cost. Because the true spirit and adventure live if not together then at least side by side — in the unknown.
We don't believe in schedules where they're not necessary. Because if they're not, they just confine us. We acknowledge that there are appointments to keep and that business hours exist.
But you can't fit adventure into a schedule. You can't put a time limit on enjoying and appreciating the moment. And if you are, why would you want to? You'd end up trapped in the future watching the clock thinking about what to do next and — in the process — missing the moment.
If we think about it, any kind of expectation is harmful to our experience.
Let us explain that shortly: Let's say we can expect either something good (positive) or something bad (negative) to happen.
If our positive expectation is fulfilled, we won't be as appreciative of the fulfilling event —
because it was expected. We end up less grateful than if we had not expected anything.
If our positive expectation is not fulfilled, we will be disappointed. Our mind turned something that didn't even happen into something negative.
In both cases, we lose.
For a negative expectation we don't even have to differentiate what happens: We clearly lose every time, because we have mentally declared a situation our enemy. We then oppose it and — as with everything — if we do that it tends to fight back. The negative expectation then becomes what people call a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even worse, a negative expectation — more commonly known as fear — often keeps us from having an experience in the first place by avoiding it. It doesn't matter whether the fear is founded or not.
So just try to let go of your expectations and experience each moment as it is. Neither good nor bad, just is.
A Yiddish proverb suggests that Man plans and God laughs. Religious and theological notions aside, we believe there's truth in it. Because in our experience, it's never going to happen the way you plan it — and even that is not entirely sure. So why bother making elaborate plans at all? Why not embrace this simple truth and make room for spontaneity?
To top it off, we tend to invest our plans with expectations - even involuntarily. And expectations seriously impair our experience.
We cultivate heading into the unknown on our travels. Because it's the only place that gives you an air of mystery and adventure. Because only the unknown remains unadulterated by mainstream tourism and thus becomes a sanctuary where the true spirit of a place can survive. Because we want to show you — on a small scale — that there's nothing to fear.
We've headed into the unknown in our lives before and continue to do so. Because life happens outside your comfort zone. Because we know now there's nothing to be afraid of. Because we know that the challenge is our best chance of growing as a person. Because it gives us the confidence to take on the world.
The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences. — Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
We believe in adventure because it's the novelty of the experience that makes us feel alive and stuffs the time spent with special memories. In comparison, spending the same amount of time in our comfort zones doing the daily grind it just flies by without leaving a memorable impression. We basically grow old without living.
But while the new experiences provide enough content for us to feel alive, it is the actual challenge the adventure poses that advances us as a person and like that causes measurable progress.
We're conscious about the devastating effect we, as mankind, have on our mother nature. Our fascination with her is what draws us out to meet her every time. We want to contribute to preserve her in her pristine beauty for hopefully many generations to come. So we are trying our best to minimize the impact we have on her. And leave only a footprint for every step that we take.