The joy and benefit of micro-travel

• ~300 words • 1 minute read

Today I'm taking the Bolt Bus from Portland, Oregon to Bellingham, Washington to visit a friend. Two summers ago I'd cherry-pick their special $1 fare offerings and buy them ahead of time, even if I wasn't sure if I'd be able to go. I figured why not — I've spent more on cups of coffee with less consideration.

There's wifi and an outlet on the bus which allows me to work and the ever-changing scenery out my window is a nice change of pace. Traveling this way (or by train) always makes me acutely aware of how spread-out things are here. Little clusters of human habitation interconnected by snaking strips of asphalt and metal.

One of the things I took away from my year in 2013, in which I traveled internationally for a full year and visited 18 different countries, was that traveling well has much less to do with where you're physically present and more to do with the mindset you bring. Changing scenery, going somewhere new forces us to make new connections in our brains. It broadens horizons and we (ideally) become more open to new experiences and ideas.

While flying 3,000 miles away from everything familiar to you has a way of jump-starting this process, I've discovered working a healthy dose of tiny adventures into my routine has a similar effect. A $1 bus ride up to a place in Washington I've never been; walking down a new street to a familiar location. It helps keep those channels open and makes me receptive to new opportunities in all facets of my life.