Summer is here, which means whatever you want it to mean. I use this time away from school to travel as much as possible. To kick off my summer, I hopped on a plane (and a bus, and a boat) to get to Bocas del Toro, Panama.
8 Reasons to Travel this Summer
Reason #1: Get out of your comfort zone
I travel because I like to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. It’s easy to become accustomed to your routine at home, but I like to break that to really make me feel alive. For me, travel is all about remembering how vulnerable and small you are in the world and in the universe and it really makes you take on a different perspective on life.
Reason #2: Build character
I know, I know- this totally sounds like something your parents would say. But honestly, travel is exhausting, and anyone who says differently is vacationing. (I think there’s a big difference between the two.) It’s easy to overlook the toll traveling takes on your body, especially with social media portraying the glamours side of travel . In reality, there’s a lot more involved. HOWEVER, this isn’t me telling you to not travel- quite the opposite. When you’ve been traveling to get to a destination for 24 hours +, you feel like there’s nothing else you can’t do and that no place is unreachable.
I had quite the travel nightmare getting to Bocas del Toro, Panama. I had a red-eye flight leaving at 1am from Los Angeles to Houston. In Houston, my flight got delayed eight hours, causing me to miss my connecting domestic flight from Panama City to Bocas. As a result, I ended up taking an overnight bus (with 3 separate transfers) and 12 hours later, I made it to my final destination. It was frustrating because one leg of my journey that was only supposed to be 11 hours total turned out to be 30. I was so exhausted, both mentally and physically, but when it’s all said and done, I’m pretty proud of myself for navigating through Panama on multiple buses in the middle of the night with very limited Spanish!
Reason #3: Give Back to the local community
It’s important to remember that when you travel, you’re visiting some one else’s home. Being mindful that you’re a guest will ensure that you don’t get into trouble with locals , and also help to limit the impact you have, (unless it’s a positive one). Challenge yourself to only leave behind foot prints, and the only thing you take away are memories and a passport stamp to add to your collection.
Something unique I noticed about Bocas del Toro was its emphasis on being environmentally friendly and self-sustaining. From signs about disposing trash throughout Islan Colon to recycled surfboard art and a town made up of water bottles, Panamanians are trying their best to keep their country beautiful. I even noticed signs for trash-pickup groups in the community, and even saw it in action at Zapatillo Cay National Park. I figured I’d do my part and strolled along the sandy coastline, picking up trash along the way.
Reason #4: Experience a culture different from your own
A huge benefit of traveling is all the things you learn from first-hand experience; things that you can’t really learn through books in school.
I love trying new foods and hearing languages other than English being spoken around me. In Panama, there was a lot of fresh fish and fruit, so I basically had some combination of the two in every meal. My favorite dish I tried was octopus ceviche with a side of fried plantains. We’d also stock up on ripe papayas, bananas, and limes at the local fruit stands. It’s so easy to eat healthy in a place with abundant and delicious produce!
Reason #5: Surf somewhere new
Surfing is a funny thing because it’s the same concept everywhere you go. Paddle, catch a wave, and repeat. That being said, surfing is one of the best ways to get to know a country and the locals. When you’re out in the ocean, it’s like you’re part of a community that transcends culture. There’s a general happiness from being able to share the stoke, and the energy is contagious.
Reason #6: Connect with Nature (and yourself)
Most often, the places I travel to tend to have little to not cell service, and limited Wi-Fi. I like that it forces me to get off any electronic devices that would dominate my life back at home, and to live in the present. In down-time moments, I choose to journal and reflect, read a good book, play card games, or enjoy the scenery. Your mind will thank you for this as you notice your thinking patterns change and you feel more relaxed.
Reason #7: Let the ocean set you free
The ocean is my ultimate escape, wherever in the world I end up. I just love how it makes me feel, and how instantly refreshed I feel after a quick swim. Every beach has something new to offer, whether it’s the sea glass or the sea shells hidden in the sand. At Red Frog beach in Panama, I spotted a sloth hanging out on a tree! Talk about things you don’t see everyday at home!
Reason #8: Bring out your adventurous side
This is something that can’t be denied. Travel definitely brings out your adventurous side as you live in the spontaneity of each and every moment.
Things I can’t travel without:
Some of my travel essentials include a passport, swim suit, Reef sandals, camera, and my journal.