Start before you leave

Here at The Meaningful Traveler, I’m about to launch into a series on Seeing the Old in New Ways. I’ll use a series of photographs from my recent trip to Europe to point out ways to think about, photograph and just plain see with new eyes the places you think you know so well.

But how do you go about finding a fresh perspective on places you know firsthand or have viewed in numerous pictures? We’ll see…

For now, I want to start with this simple reminder: Start your trip before you arrive or preferably, even before you leave home.

Think about – practice in your head before your trip – the idea of seeing with new eyes, capturing images in a fresh way or looking beyond the obvious. If you do this before you depart, you’ll greatly increase the odds of actually pulling it off once you get to your destination. They say with athletics that you can derive half or even more of the benefits of physically practicing – say, perfecting your free throw in basketball – if you visualize doing it over and over even when you’re not on the court. The same applies to thinking about how you will see on your trip.

If this all sounds rather abstract, then just do this: Be prepared. Be open and curious. Travel expectantly, looking for something even when you least likely expect it.

Here’s a great example:

Rainbow from plane window

My son Connor and I are chatting on the plane as we leave Seattle for Amsterdam a few weeks ago. We’re no more than five to ten minutes into the flight when we look out the window and see this rainbow. I fly out of Seattle all the time and rarely see anything like this. But here we are on a trip to Europe with our anticipation geared toward what we’ll see once we get there, and God throws us a rainbow in our own backyard.

Had I been too consumed with what lay ahead of me – Europe – instead of being present to the journey itself, I would have missed this. Fortunately, I came prepared, had my camera right with me, and handed it to Connor who snapped this shot.

Think about what it means to be present, to see – to truly see – before you leave and chances are you’ll be more adept at realizing the wonder even in the most familiar of scenes. Seeing the world anew rarely happens by accident. It takes practice. But it’s something you can practice anywhere and any time.

Now might be a good time to start…



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