I have for the second time the last six months chosen to spend a month in the United States, more precisely I have been living the everyday city life in Chicago, and gone hiking with some old travel friends in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The first time was in September 2016, before Trump had been elected to be United States president, and the second time in February 2017 when Trump is the president of the United States. Was it different to be there after Trump became a president than what it was before he was elected? The answer is yes, but this blog is not about how I feel it is different now. It does not matter who is the president, I like spending time in the United States and being together with my friends.
During my stay on these two journeys to Chicago and Colorado, I got the inspiration to write a blogpost about how a holiday can be spent together with local people in local communities. The blogpost is not about going to Chicago or going to Colorado. It is a blogpost where I share my ideas on how you can plan and go on a holiday, where you spend time out of the touristic places and instead explore some of the local neighborhoods. New social media and online marketplaces that have popped up in the recent years make it possible to think differently about how to travel to a new country, find a nice neighborhood in a city or out in the countryside you want to explore and just go.
So how do you plan for a trip like this?
One thing that can be wise to ask yourself is if you have a special purpose for the trip, or if you just want to travel with an open agenda, like I did, and see what comes up along the journey.
When you plan a journey like this will it be helpful to identify something that you are passionate about, and figure out how you can get connected with likeminded people that share your passion with you. These are the people that will give your journey the extra spark.
I am passionate about practicing yoga, backpacking, climbing and building my business taking people on off touristic treks to Nepal, where they can get unique experiences in beautiful nature, together with the local people and experience the local culture up in the Himalayas. So what I did before I traveled to Chicago was to look up climbing gyms and yoga studios, backpacking Meetup groups, Meetup groups for entrepreneurs and networking Meetup groups. I sat down after I had done some research and wrote e-mails to the gyms/places/groups I found to be the most interesting telling them the dates I was planning to be in Chicago, and asked them for tips that would be useful for me when I arrived in the city. I asked them about everything from specific information about coming to the gym/place/group and taking part in their society, to more practical information as help to finding a place to stay. I also reached out to my friends that I thought could help me through their network and I searched on Airbnb for places to stay.
You might wonder how I got the idea to go on this travel. The truth is that from my sensible point of view I do not have any idea of why I decided to do it. I am following a sensation deep within me that has brought me on this journey. You can call it intuition or that I am following my heart or something else. I do not exactly know what I shall call it. I just had a feeling of that I had to go.
I was lucky and got in touch with the most awesome Airbnb host in all of Chicago Steven Leaf in Wicker Park, who is also following his dream of becoming a fulltime musician. He is getting there slowly, slowly. The other guests I have met at the Airbnb are awesome too. This February was it me and an Australian professor that was visiting Chicago as a guest professor that stayed there.
My office space was the local Café Brü just down road from where I am living, the café has the most hospitable personnel. The local places are always a nice places to hang out if either you just want to relax and feel the local atmosphere, or if you are on a working holiday and have to work under your stay. Usually, you will always find local places with good atmosphere and wifi.
One of Chicago’s best yoga studios, Moksha Yoga, was only ten minutes with local transportation from where I was living. I feel lucky to get the opportunity to practice with Todd Boman in the morning before I started my day.
I have a lot of time by my own, something that I appreciate a lot. I love to explore a new city by foot and breath in the local neighborhoods. It’s a great way to get to know a city. Slowly, slowly, step by step. What amazes me with Chicago is that the residential houses in the neighborhoods right outside down town Chicago contains of small 3-4 story buildings. I had expected to see much more high rises there, but I like it as it is. The environment becomes more cozy with small houses.
On both travels to the United States I had a break from the big city and went to Colorado to hang out with my friends Kim and Kristen. The autumn trek we went on to the Maroon and Snowmass trail outside Aspen was a big adventure. The timing was perfect with the mountains covered in beautiful autumn colors. We spent 5 days in almost solitude in this beautiful place.
I went back to hang out and play with my friends this February and had an awesome time again with them in a small yurt on 12.000 feet for 3 days. It was only me, my friends and the mountains that was present…. What more do you need to live a happy life?
Back in Chicago I participated in some networking events that I got to know about on www.meetup.com. People that come to or live in Chicago from all over the world turn up at these events. I can say with my hand on my heart, that my mind got pretty much expanded on these events, through talking to the other participants and get to know a little bit about their lives. It makes me humble to understand how little I know about what’s going on in the world, and how much is out there that is under development and will be a part of our future soon.
There is the big picture that I got an insight through the networking meetings I attended, and there is the ordinary life that goes on out in the local neighborhoods like the neighborhood I stayed in, in Wicker Park. I like to get a taste of both these worlds. In the local neighborhood do they have local bars, restaurants, coffee shops and café’s packed with people from the nearby neighborhood. I had an interesting evening when I went into the newly opened Ipsento 606 a modern daytime coffee shop and nighttime bar to drink a beer and get a feel of the atmosphere. Since there were not many people in the bar at the time I was visiting on a Sunday evening I got in contact with Daniel who is working at the bar. He told me about the story behind the bar and a little bit about the everyday life that was going on in the bar.
For me it is important to support these small local places that are owned by small local entrepreneurs from the neighborhood I am visiting. It is these places who give life to the local communities, have dedicated employees that will stretch out a helping hand and can give you some good and local stories.
These journeys to Chicago and Colorado have expanded my view of what’s going on in the world. They have had all the ingredients that I appreciate in an exciting holiday. I have met a lot of new people living in the places I have visited, got the opportunity to catch up with some old friends, spent quality time offline on high altitude in the Rocky Mountains and explored the busy city life in Chicago. Everyday life is kind of same, same but different. It is full of routines for the people that is living in the places we visit, but so different from our own life at home.
I hope this blog gives you some inspiration to how you can plan your next holiday. Leave a note in the comment field behind or please send an e-meil to firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have some feedback or think that I can help you with something to plan your next holiday.