Category Archives: Philosophy

The Power of Body Language

Don’t underestimate the power of body language.
What does this sign mean to you?

If you’re Turkish, you probably use this a lot.
“Very, very good!”, “Excellent!”

Though when you get down to Syria, this sign might not be as positive.
You’ll see taxi drivers using it while squeezing you through the impressive traffic game of Damascus as it means “Wait!”

And in Italy?
“What the F—!”

Don’t nod to a Bulgarian if you mean Yes.
This one is really tricky, but just shake your head and smile.
Imagine yourself in an opposite world where No means Yes, and Yes means No. That’s Bulgaria!

How do you communicate without words?
Write a comment and let us know!

You Are Constantly Changing Your World


Amanda is communicating… what exactly?

Every day has the potential of changing the course of human history.
All it takes is ideas and your actions to make them come true.

We do our best changing the world by meeting people, dancing with them and writing about it.
This is not the only way.
You are constantly changing the world somehow.
It is impossible not to communicate, and by communicating you’re automatically affecting your environment in either one direction or the other.

When you’re walking down the streets, are you smiling?
Whistling? Dancing?
What would happen if you walked in a different way?
As if you were somebody else?
Try smiling and see how the world reacts to that.
How does your action affect your world?
What results do you get?

Here in Syria, people smile a lot!
This is a major difference from how it was in Sweden or Poland.

We’re not sure why it is like this. But we know how to change it.
Just start smiling :) !

19 Hacks to Improve Your Hitchhiking Experience

Hitchhiker with a sign saying "Freshly Shower'd"
(Sign, love and photo by Peacehead)

Here are some tips that will improve your results while you’re hitchhiking:

  • Bring a girl (if you’re a guy) or a guy (if you’re a girl)

    If you’re a guy you’ll get much better results with other men if you bring a girl.
    If you’re a girl, it will be easier to dismiss the wedding proposals if you have another guy with you.

  • Smile, laugh and sing – no begging please

    Show the drivers that they’d have a much better time if they were with you.
    Convince them by being that missing piece of their experience.

  • Look the drivers into the eyes, seek rapport

    In this way they’ll feel forced to give you some sort of answer.
    If not, you’re just part of the scenery.

  • Wear whole and clean clothes (depending on what kind of cars you want to attract)

    We want to attract new and secure cars.
    Therefore, we dress fashionable and properly ;).

  • Know your way, or be prepared to ask for it

    Say you want to get to city D and you are in city A. Then it’s good to know the name of city B and city C as well.

  • Use a sign (paper or cardboard)

    Your sign is a way of saving time. Write the closest town that you want to get to, or the furthest depending on your situation.
    If nobody has stopped, then you might want to skip the sign. If everyone stops, then you want to make it very specific.

  • Write the sign using the native alphabet

    For example if you’re in an Arab country, get a friend or stranger to write it for you (unless you speak/write in Arabic)

  • Be humorous with what you write on the sign

    When we’re failing to get a good connection with the drivers, and we feel unmotivated we usually just pick up the “INDIA” sign.
    This has a very good effect: The drivers starts to smile, laugh, and often points at the sign while their mouths falls wide open.
    This makes us laugh and smile as well.
    Some people just stop to figure out what’s going on, and if we’re really going to India.

  • Use the crowd effect

    Humans are social creatures and they are attracted to – social happenings.
    If a car stops and the driver talks to you because of your humorous sign,
    then that will make it harder for the drivers that comes afterwards to not do the same thing.
    Nobody wants to miss the fun, right?

  • Never hitchhike on a “green road” or motorway – more often than not it’s illegal

    It is very difficult for the drivers to stop and it’s also dangerous for them to do so.

  • Offer the car enough space to stop

    After the point where you’re standing there should at least be a few meters for the car to stop at.

  • Stand in the brightest spot possible – you want to shine

    It doesn’t matter if the source is the Sun or a street light, the important thing is that the driver can see you properly.

  • Give the driver enough time to see you, make a decision and stop

    Make yourself as visible as possible, give them time to understand what you want.
    With this in mind, the best spots is where the cars drive slow.

  • Don’t hitchhike when it’s dark

    Don’t take this too seriously.
    The main reason for not hitchhiking when it’s dark is simply because it’s harder for the drivers to see you.

  • If you’re in a hurry – avoid trucks as they only drive top 90km/h

    Truck drivers are often really friendly and nice persons. The only problem with trucks are that they go really slow.
    So if you’re in a hurry or want to be somewhere at a specific time, it is best to avoid the trucks.

  • Remember that you’re in control – you choose which driver to go with and how far you’ll go with her/him

    When you’re hitchhiking, you’re the boss. You choose if you want to step into that car, or if you want the driver to stop it.

  • Stand as close to the cars as possible – walk down from the pavement to really get “in their faces”

    In order to get a good contact (rapport) you want to be in the drivers faces. Get out on the road and make contact!

  • If you don’t speak the same language as your driver – be prepared

    Lack of language is not a communication barrier! You can draw, make gestures and sing international songs together.

  • Connect with your driver if you like her/him

    Exchange email addresses or Facebook.
    Share a gum if you have one.
    Show pictures from home.
    Connect in some way, and you might have made a friend for life!

There you have it.
19 hacks to improve your hitchhiking experience.
Do you have any tactics or strategies that you’d like to share?
Write them in the comments!
Happy hitching :) !

The World – Our Second Home

Our CouchSurfing host made us think the other day.
We’ve been staying with him in Damascus for a few days. He hosts us, even though CouchSurfing is officially illegal in Syria. The original site is blocked. But since people are still into it, they find their ways to get around it. And our host doesn’t only host us. For the last couple of days he has been hosting over 20 people from all over the world!

We asked him what his drive is. Why does he do this? He could possibly get in some sort of trouble for it. And even if the legal point wasn’t there, this still keeps him really busy.
Most people we know would call this “No private time”.

But not Feras.
“I want to make Syria a second home for everybody. I want to make people happy.”

We were really impressed by his answer. Why didn’t we never think of that? Or why didn’t we hear it before? What if everybody thought a bit more like this. To make their country second home for foreigners. We are so gonna work on that, anyway!

If every country did, then the whole world would be our second home. Somewhat it is, already
though we didn’t define it like that before.

Feras erases the borders as well as he can. Though we might have to hide in the bathroom if his landlord showes up, he is still hosting us and telling us his door is open, anytime.
For us, that is the best of examples there is.

It might be a tuff act to follow, but we could try together, couldn’t we? :)

Your Job is Not Your Identity

Amanda

“Hitchhiking to India? Really?!”

Yes, really!
We have answered this question quite a few times already, and we have seen many playful smiles upon many people’s lips in many countries. Almost every driver, every person we have a quick chat with, anyone who hears about our current mission reacts this way.
It’s like they think to themselves, for a second or two, that “Wow, life can actually be just as good as you make it!”.

Then comes question no. 2: “What do you work with?”

When I had just finished school and I was traveling, it was easy to give people a satisfying answer.
“I have just finished school” was for most people equal to “I’m about to move on to university”, though this was never really outspoken, just a floating assumption.
People liked that idea, anyway. Either that, or that I would go back to a normal, regular job. In that best case, very soon.

But time goes on. It is now 2,5 years since I finished school. I have changed my answers many times, because people keep asking me.

“What is your job?”
Well, we don’t have any jobs at the moment.
“Aha, so you are a students?”
No.
“So you take a year off or something?”
No. We travel, and we work with a website. And we dance The Chicken Dance. We are in the middle of our beautiful lives and we are not sure where our project is going, but it is exciting and we enjoy it very much!

When I can’t seem to calm the boiling frustration of the fact that we actually have no idea how long we are traveling for, I tell people I used to work in service industry, in restaurants and caf├ęs. Because that’s the kind of jobs I’ve always had in between school and adventures around the world. And I am very good at that, but it is not my greatest challenge or my passion.
I try to tell people that it’s just the way I’ve been making money. Because personally I don’t see that as my profession or something that I “am”.
I have other stories to tell, not including a so called normal working career.

“OK, so you are a waitress. Very good.”

Even the people with who we communicate only by body language and drawings, sometimes look like they’ll go mad because they don’t get it. They just can’t put their fingers on what we ARE if we are not doctors or teachers or lawyers. There are no such things as not having anything to go back to. No such things as not knowing exactly how to make your living for the rest of the year.
For most people it is just way too far from the only life they ever knew.

I apparently make more sense to the people if I tell them what my job is.
I must be either a waitress, or a bit crazy.
Truthfully, I rather put “crazy” on my business card.

I believe that I can teach people something if I don’t just let them see me as a waitress, a word that they already know. They might understand that they are just as free to live the life they want as I am. By just leaving them the with the idea that I have a regular job that I need to go back to soon, I also leave them with the same old thoughts that there isn’t much to change in this world.

But I disagree with that.
My job is not my identity.
Life educates us every day, it is the same for me as for other human beings.
I learn, and I try to teach when I believe that I can do so.

We are more than our university degrees.
We are also people, free to break out of our boxes and discover ourselves.
I mean to say bigger than “you can become whatever you want to be”.
Blink once, then open your eyes.
You already ARE whatever you want to be. You choose to reduce or enlarge yourself, you choose what people will see when they greet you.

How will you introduce yourself next time?

Authentic traveling – Help Exchange

The term “volunteering” is often associated with working at an orphanage or with projects against poverty. There are plenty of agencies organizing incredibly expensive trips for volunteers all over the world. Unfortunately.
Maybe this is, money wise, an easy way to market and exploit poor countries, since many people in the Western world wish to find a way to help people in need.

You don’t have to pay to get access to work!
Being a volunteer literally means that you work for a certain cause without payment, but buying an organized trip means you usually pay a lot more for your own work than your boss would ever do at home. Fair? We don’t think so.

Luckily there are cheaper and more direct ways for those who want to work as volunteers!

HelpX is a great network for all sort of volunteering.
It could be everything from walking someone’s dog, teaching English or constructing houses.

Even temporary projects like repainting a house or assisting at a specific event are available. Joining HelpX means you pay a sum (different prices depending on the type of membership), then you can create your own profile which is where future hosts can see your personal information and references.

A normal schedule would include around 4 hours of work a day, but this obliviously depends. You should get food and accommodation in exchange.

WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities of Organic Farms, connects volunteers with organic farms with the same basic ideas as HelpX. WWOOF is limited only to organic farming, and you pay for each country to get contact information for that country. So figuring out where to go might be a bit more expensive through WWOOF, but the network is well spread and most volunteers chose to go from farm to farm.

Doing direct work is a very rewarding feeling!
Rather than paying money to an account without being sure about who’s pocket it will eventually end up in, you get the chance of just doing the work yourself.
This form of volunteering is also the perfect learning experience for those that dream about running a self sufficient farm, opening their own guest house, etc. It is a chance to get inspired, or sometimes just to realize that it is not actually what you want.

Many times it includes lots of physical work.
No gym needed, and guess what? You’ll sleep better than ever – for many reasons.

Help Exchange and WWOOF – another authentic travel experience worth checking out!

Read more about authentic traveling:

Authentic traveling – CouchSurfing

No matter if you like hitchhiking or not, there are other ways of authentic meetings, while finding a place to stay the night at the same time! Hostels are nice, but the people you’ll meet are usually backpackers with as little knowledge about the place as yourself. This is why Couchsurfing rocks!

The CS network is worldwide and extremely popular. Signing up is free but donations are always welcome to keep the organization going. The community also serves locals , and in many cities meetings are held every week.
There are other exchange networks similar to CS (for example BeWelcome, Hospitality Club), though CS is currently the biggest one in the world.

Renting a room never gives the same experience as staying with people in their home.What you give in exchange is for most people something more valuable than money. You share yourself with them! Your hosts are not depending on you to make their living, they have chosen to meet you because they want to. They will still go to work, make dinner, go out, see their friends etc, even with you sleeping on their couch.

We’ve had great meetings with our hosts in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania and are looking forward to host travelers ourselves when we’ll have a place to invite them to! (We just can’t fit more people in the tent at the moment :) ).

In Poland our host Jarema brought us to one restaurant, one pub, and one teahouse – all of them places that we’d never found without him. But most importantly: We would probably not have found such a open minded person if it wasn’t for CS!

In Slovakia, Martina brought us to a wine festival that we had never even heard of. Through her we met plenty of people in our own age living in Bratislava.

In Hungary we got a private guide tour through the capital with Joacim, who showed us his favorite places in one night.

In Romania, Andra taught us how to make pottery, told us plenty of things about Romanian history and modern culture, and Razvan showed us how to become better photographers. No hotel receptionist ever did anything like this, no matter how service minded and friendly they have been.

We have been invited to stay with complete strangers as well, and it has been a pleasure. But we cannot walk around hoping for them to pop up around the corner asking us to come to their place. Through CouchSufring we can contact people in advance, read about them, see their references and find out if it is a good and interesting match for us.

CouchSurfing gives an authentic travel experience!

Read more about authentic traveling: