January 30, 2019

Every time I pass by a playground, my mind flashes back to my childhood. I remember sprinting like a madman to the sand pit and the swings, and frolicking with my friends as if no one was watching us. I was curious about everything. I could turn rocks and leaves into little playthings. Somewhere along the road towards adulthood, I’d lost this unadulterated enjoyment of life and my intrepid spirit of exploration. You might’ve too, under the weight of societal expectations and daily responsibilities. In travel, however, we get to free ourselves and rediscover that inner child within us. Here are a few ways how.

Be spontaneous.

There’s nothing wrong with planning your vacations and preparing for every situation like a Type A person would, but once the tyres hit the tarmac, allow yourself to let go. Expect your itinerary to change. You might have planned for four pit stops in a day, but it is okay if you end up spending all day at just one of them. There’s no room for neurosis in travel. Otherwise, you’ll surely ruin all the fun.

Relearn how to live like a free spirit. Children are masters of this lifestyle because their minds are not clouded by anything else, in particular, the dark uncertainties of the future. Of course, you shouldn’t abandon your common sense or intuition. Put your safety first, but give yourself space to go with the flow and be spontaneous.

Take your time to appreciate something.  

When we travel and visit a historical landmark, we’re experiencing it for the first time. It’s natural for us to linger around the monument and soak up every fascinating detail. Forget the places of attraction. Even the most mundane aspects of a new city can capture our attention. To the locals, their neighbourhoods have become a part of their lives, faded in the background. To brand new eyes, they are captivating and distinctive. It’s much like putting on the lenses of a child.

As adults, we tend to rush from place to place, event to event. We don’t look up and appreciate how huge the full moon is on a starless night, or stop to play with a stray cat like a child would. Travel reminds us to press pause and delight in the world you’re in, instead of panicking about the next thing on your to-do list. 

Don’t be afraid to get lost.

Take the path less travelled. Dare yourself to toss the GPS and just wander around. If your eyes aren’t stuck to the map, they are looking up and enjoying the environment. As the kids would say, rules are made to be broken. When you don’t rely on navigation, you’ll have to walk slower as well, instead of going straight from point A to B.

The point of this is not to get lost intentionally, but to open yourself up to exploration and discovery. It is the perfect way to get to know a new place and really pay attention to where you are. You might chance upon hidden gems along the way, like a hole-in-the-wall cafe that brews the best espresso, and find yourself in an unexpected adventure. 

Never say “no” to a new experience.

The purpose of travelling is to see, try and do new things. Don’t shy away from a silkworm meal or a cliff jump. Step out of your comfort zone. Part of feeling like a kid again is to regain your natural curiosity about the world, and thus, adopt a more open-minded outlook that embraces novel experiences fearlessly.

Every time you try something new, you’re saying “yes” to a new adventure. The beauty of this is that there will always be new things to do, whether big or small. It could even be as simple as taking an alternative route home from work. As long as you keep seeking out these experiences, you’ll realise life is filled with little, unexplored adventures.

Release the weirdo within.  

Run along the beach like an uncoordinated psycho and deliberately flail your arms in the air while you’re at it. Hit the nightclubs and dance like there’s no one there. These are some of the most liberating things you can do, and the best part is, no one will remember you ever did them. In a foreign country, you get to escape from the people you know or the people who look familiar to you, which makes it easier for you to let loose and get away with the most embarrassing stunts. You have a safer place to “do you”, and not have to see or hear about it on social media.

There could also be things that you’ve always wanted to do, but never felt comfortable (or legally protected) enough to do them. For instance, you wouldn’t be able to play volleyball completely topless at Sentosa, but in Miami, it’s nude beaches galore.