I am the proud parent of three Siberian huskies: Moya, Cody, and Preston. Over the years, I have observed their behavior and how they interact with the rest of the world, and I've realized that they're filled with wisdom - and not just dog wisdom. I've actually learned many human life lessons simply by watching them, lessons that have helped me as I travel the world. And so, here's what my three dogs have taught me about wandering the globe.
1. Don't sweat the small stuff.
I have spent a lot of time hanging around with dogs, not least because I work from home. One important lesson that my dog Cody taught me is how to react to little problems in life. From his calm demeanor when someone knocks unexpectedly at the door to the chill way he has dealt with his recent illness - a ruptured disc - he always has the same easygoing attitude. And that's not something I take for granted, because the same cannot be said of our other dogs. He is absolutely implacable in the face of adversity, like a fighter pilot heading into enemy territory.
This calm-under-pressure attitude was an important lesson to me, not just in life but in how I react to adversity while traveling, as well. The typical travel experience, no matter where you go or what you do, is fraught with minor problems. Cars break down, we miss trains, lose luggage, spend too much money ... the list goes on.
I've learned to take a page out of Cody's book and at least attempt to approach these situations with ease and grace. Missing a train is not the end of the world. Another train will come, and I will hop on it and be on my way. No amount of yelling or sulking will bring that train back or, in a larger sense, change the situation entirely. Instead, it's best to just take a deep breath, step back, and find a solution, rather than harping on the problem itself.
2. Take it slow and have fun.
Another dog of mine, Preston, enjoys nothing more than going into the backyard. But it's not because he loves to run and play around. Nope, it's because he loves to methodically walk around the yard, smelling every spot and summing up what it means to his senses. I have no idea what he's doing, but he spends hours back there, just sniffing around.
Taking it slow like Preston is another lesson that's been very hard for me to learn. As an active traveler, I've often tried to see and do as much as time will possibly allow. As I grow older, though, I realize that this is a self-defeating approach. I'm actually experiencing less by speeding through everything rather than slowly getting to know a place. Even if it means that you won't technically "see" as many things, going slowly when you travel is the only way to really get to know a new place on a more intimate level.
It's also a lot more fun, and isn't that what travel is ultimately supposed to be about? Rushing around a foreign city isn't fun; it's exhausting and stressful. What is fun is taking it down a notch and stopping to smell those (sometimes) proverbial roses.