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Foreign Strangeness? Bring it on!!

by Kayce Stevens Hughlett

I love planning adventures and creating experiences for others. Actually, the thing I love best is showing up and seeing what transpires... setting up a framework and then welcoming in whatever wants to arise. Today a grand adventure is on my mind. In one month, I embark on a long-dreamed of trip with friend and playmate, Sharon Richards, and six willing pilgrims as we take on The City of Lights! Woohoo!


Traveling as a pilgrim means allowing yourself to be impacted and changed by the culture around you. It includes stepping into the strangeness of being in a foreign land and allowing yourself to be comfortable (or at least not totally blind-sided) when discomfort shows up. 

While it’s easy to get caught up in the details of planning and packing and dreaming about how gloriously wonderful everything is going to be, it’s also important to remember (and something I typically forget) that there will be moments of discomfort when your lizard brain pipes up and says, “What the heck do you think you’re doing? I can’t believe you thought this was a good idea! Might as well, turn around right now and hop back on that plane!”

For me the strangeness usually shows up in the first 12-24 hours when I’m jet-lagged, hungry, and getting accustomed to my new surroundings. It can, however, show up at random and unexpected moments. My motto for travel (and life) is: Expect the Unexpected. Let everything else go.

Parisian Strangeness :)Last fall when I visited Paris on my own, I ended up yelling at a blind man my first morning in the city. Yes, I yelled at a man with a cane when he inadvertently slammed into my back and I thought he was trying to steal my wallet. He yelled back and then moved on. So did I (after feeling appropriately mortified, of course).

Another time, I was standing in a boulangerie queue and a local patron poked me and said, “They’re talking to you.” Oh… and I thought I was blending in so well. Ha ha. I’ve also taken the wrong Metro numerous times, ordered unrecognizable (or digestible) food, and been surprised to find myself standing in the men’s room by mistake. I have crawled into my bed in the middle of the day when the rain wouldn’t stop and walked in circles for hours until my feet blistered and I burst into tears on a park bench.

Through conversations with others, I know these situations commonly arise when traveling abroad or otherwise. For me, the key is to remember they, too, are part of the transformative experience of being a sojourner. They are the moments that have taught me to be brave and realize that the world doesn't stop turning when I make a mistake or get lost or feel out of place. These moments are as essential to the trip as the feelings of seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first (or 50th) time and ordering the perfect café au lait et croissant a la français! It’s all in the mix.

Today, I remind each of us who wishes to travel as a pilgrim in the world:

  1. Plan. Pack wisely. Arrive. Unpack. 
  2. Be willing to toss your plans out in favor of something more delightful. 
  3. Feel the strangeness.
  4. Experience the joy. 
  5. Prepare to be changed.


As always, we'd love to hear about your journeys whether near or far! Let us know how we can help you plan and create your own dream-come-true adventures!! Leave a comment today.

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