How to Violate Expectations, Scratch the Travel Itch, & Stay Fresh

What do you do when you have The Itch?

I should back up a bit. “What is The Itch?” I’m sure you’re wondering.

There are two flavors of The Itch that I’ve come to discover. One is the undeniable feeling that I’ve gone far too long without pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, far too long without exploring someplace new. The other kind is when I’ve gone too long without writing, without expressing something meaningful, without contributing something of value to the planet. In either flavor, The Itch is my mind’s way of countering creative stagnation and mental constipation.

The Itch is vital to growth. Vital.

And now I’m beginning to wonder if satisfying one side of The Itch has led to causing the other. In a nutshell, I had an extremely eventful seven days last week, strengthening my social circle and doing some volunteer work in the process. But when I’m out of town, I try to focus on getting the most out of that experience.

So I don’t write.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I did make a journal entry, but I didn’t write or outline anything for this site. I took a conscious break from this place, a place that has become a testing ground for my writing voice in many ways.

But you know what? I feel good about that. I’ve grown to trust my intuition in all things, and I felt completely congruent in putting this site on hold for the last ten days or so. Instead of trying to do two things half-assed, I decided to be completely immersed in being away. And I grew from it. (There’s no better way to scratch the Travel Itch.)

I’ve also decided to be less predictable in posting new articles. After all, with over 240 articles, thousands of travel photos, and other bonus material, there’s certainly enough content on this site to occupy someone for days. Days, I tell you!

And now, I’m home, embracing Stationaryness once more.

Deciding to Do One Thing Well

As antithetical as it may sound, I actually love periods of Stationaryness. They allow me to focus completely on the act of creation. In fact, I’m quite certain that my book, an extremely complex and massive project, would not be coming out in December if I had travelled more in 2011. But I decided to focus on creation and not exploration during that time. I decided to do one thing well, and I really relished in that. I thoroughly enjoyed it, actually. 🙂

And in early 2012, The Itch manifested itself again just in time for Steve Pavlina’s workshop in Las Vegas. I decided to make a whole trip out of it, staying with friends in Milwaukee before I flew out, and then Couchsurfing in Milwaukee on the way back. It was a truly unforgettable experience that I’ve written about in various articles.

But one experience stood out in particular.

After the presentation on the final day, I asked Steve what he would do in my position. What would he do to continually grow his audience if he were in my shoes?

And you know what he said?

Two words: Violate Expectations.

I wasn’t completely shocked considering it was coming from a guy with a professed love for Violator, but it made oodles of sense to me. People remember what’s different, what’s strange and novel. And over the past year, I’ve turned that advice over again and again in my mind. I’ve done my best to apply that advice, and articles such as “How to Pack Your Backpack like Chuck Norris”, “How to Tell if a Friendship is Real”, and “How to Become a Superhero” are some reflections of this.

How to be an Unpredictable Blogger

But recently I’ve realized that this isn’t enough. If you look at the archives, you may notice that I’ve published an article nearly every week, like clockwork, for nearly three years. And if you look at those dates on a calendar, you’ll notice that over 90% of them were published on Tuesday or a Wednesday. In the beginning, I found that creating a structured schedule was very helpful for me, but now, I’ve decided that it’s time for a change.

I’ve decided not to confine myself to a rigid posting schedule anymore.

Some articles may come out early in the week, while some weeks may have an article appear on a Saturday. Some weeks may be completely quiet. And some weeks may feature two new articles. Anything could happen!

The bottom line is, nothing is assured anymore. And I’m making a conscious effort to incorporate a more spontaneous and unexpected flavor to Byteful Travel. After all, my favorite travel experiences of all time were always unexpected in their beauty.

Much is in store. And I’m so excited to share it with you. But until then… I’ve got to eat some lunch. As bizarre as it may sound, I try not to eat much at all before I write for the day. I find that it slows me down.

So, considering all I’ve eaten so far today is an orange and I’ve said what I’ve intended to say, I shall now eat a healthy vegan meal. And if you’ve experienced The Itch for yourself, feel free to reach out and let me know. 🙂