Spending time with your head buried in technology can cause you to block out the real world. Things that once inspired us seem faded and unnoticeable. I can’t remember one thing that caught my attention this morning on my way to work.
My daily commute has become so routine, so blurry. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel the need to seek inspiration anymore away from my laptop.
As a kid I loved walking around the city, experiencing new things such as architecture, or just spending time people watching, visiting art galleries, and taking day trips to the beach or the mountains with my friends and family. I don’t do those things much anymore.
The older we get the busier our lives become, and things like work, paying bills and mowing the lawn take priority. Who has the time to stop by the park for an hour and just sit on a bench?
A great way to break out of the norm and get inspired is to distance yourself from your daily routines. Of course, that’s easier said than done. We often let things like money and time become our excuses. But if you make traveling a priority, it’s not that hard to save up and take some time to get away and get inspired. As designers, writers, photographers, developers and creatives in general, we need to reboot more often than others—cleanse our Palate.
Here are five tips that might help you plan an inspirational trip. This post is not about unplugging you from the computer. That would be awful! This post is about opening your eyes to the little things you haven’t noticed in a while, and getting inspired by them!
1. Have a plan.
Don’t concern yourself with too much detail, just create a plan with the things you would like to see and do, and let the rest fall into place.
Your initial plans are not carved in stone. (I struggle with this all the time.) Make sure you are willing to break your plans and go with the flow. If you create a detailed and stringent roadmap for your trip, you will end up ignoring everything in between.
For example, if you are visiting New York City, two places you might want to check out are the MET and MOMA. But if you concentrate too much on getting from point A to point B and blur out everything in between, you will miss some real gems along the way.
2. Stop, look and listen.
We can miss a lot when we’re not paying attention. I remember visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris a few years back. I walked in, followed the path around the Cathedral behind the rest of the tourists, looked around and was out in less than ten minutes. The minute I walked out, I could not remember a single thing I saw in there.
So, I went back in. This time I took the time to stop, look around, listen to the sounds, and take in the whole experience. I could not believe the details I noticed. I was so amazed by that place that my wife and I went in a third time before we left Paris.
Plan a photo day. Take interesting pictures. This will force you to stop and notice. And trust me—it’s fun. Just don’t be that creepy guy with the camera hiding behind the tree!
3. Bring your gear with you.
Like I said earlier, this post is not about unplugging from technology, so pack up your laptop, digital camera, video camera and whatever else will assist in documenting your experience. You will want to capture the moments that inspired you.
The one thing I would limit is the use of your iPhone. Walking and texting will take your mind away from what you are there to do, which is to experience the “real” world.
But I just love the new Abduzeedo iPhone app!
It’s so awesome!
Yes, that’s true, but you should not be using it while walking by St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City or Notre Dame in Paris. However, there are a few cases when your iPhone can be a great tool for your trip. Carrying huge maps, and travel books will make you look like a lost tourist. That’s never a good look. Load up your iPhone with travel apps, and only use them when you are resting or planning your next destination. Limit the use while on the go.
Bring a sketchbook. A small moleskine pad is always a good way to take notes and sketch ideas that come to you while exploring your surroundings. Check out my “Brilliant Examples of Moleskine Art” post for some creative uses of these books.
4. Travel with friends or your spouse.
Traveling alone can get boring. Yes, you have more freedom to do the things you want to do without anyone getting in your way, but you will be missing out on some fun.
Traveling with friends or spouses can make the experience more fun and can create memories that you can share with them in the future:
Remember the time we got drunk and went swimming in the Trevi Fountain in Rome?
OK, hopefully that never happens, but it sure would be funny.
Traveling with someone might also give you the opportunity to visit places you might not have gone to had you been by yourself. Be careful not to fall into your normal routine with them. Think outside the box.
5. Visiting a city? Avoid the subway.
No, not because of the strange smells, but because you are missing everything the city has to offer above. Walking is the best thing you can do. When you get tired, find a nice place to rest, regroup and keep going.
However, if you are in NYC, experience the subway at least once or twice. Just don’t make it a habit. Taxis are a bit more forgiving because you can still look around—unless your driver is a maniac, which is very likely to be the case in The Big Apple.
Inspiration can come from the smallest and strangest things. Don’t go out looking for them; just let them happen!
Hope these tips help. Enjoy your trips!
Please take a minute to chime in and leave a comment below ;)