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. 🙂

How to Tell if a Friendship is Real: Testing for Resonance (A True Story)

When it comes to creating strong connections: Resonance is everything.

While common values, similar interests, or a similar sense of humor is a good sign, it still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll feel the intuitive nudge to cultivate a friendship with a particular person. And sometimes, you may meet someone by chance who you would have never imagined would resonate with you, yet they do.

Having met thousands of people during my adventures and drawn many lessons from those interactions (97% of which were positive), I consider myself a pretty good judge of character. Yet this summer I realized that this may not be enough.

I’ll explain.

Act 1: A Delightful Host?

Once upon a couch, I was hosted by a smart, passionate woman who was relatively new to Couchsurfing. She shared my love of good, organic food; and, perhaps more importantly, she instinctively knew the importance of conscious growth. She knew she could make a measurable, positive difference in the world. Overall, she was a delightful young woman.

In between some plans that I’d made, we had the chance to hang out a bit. I met some of her friends; we all went out for a couple drinks — the usual Friday night thing, right? She was perhaps slightly naïve, but she had a kind of raw enthusiasm that I enjoyed. So early on, I suspected there was some good friend potential.

And then something refreshing happened: she began opening up to me. She also began asking some more personal questions, such as my relationship status, which I didn’t mind sharing with her. She also told me about how one of her friends was moving away, and how there weren’t a lot of other people in her life that she felt she could truly talk to about personal growth anymore.

I empathized. I was once in a similar situation, and I offered my support. If she wanted someone to talk to about such things, I’d be happy to stay in touch.

On the last day, we hugged goodbye; and I was happy to have made another growth-oriented friend… or had I?

Act 2: How to Blow Someone Off

On a subsequent visit to Madison, I sent her a text message telling her that I was in town for a few days and I’d like to stop by and say “Hi.”

Later that day, I received a disappointing reply. Apparently, she was spending time with her roommates that evening (before they all moved out), but she “hoped that I had a good visit to Madison.”

Now let me ask you, dear reader, does that sound like someone who has any desire to see me? She knew quite well that I would be in town for another 2 days; but as you and I know, if you don’t actually want to see someone, there won’t be time to see them. That’s all.

Clearly, I had misjudged the situation.

Later that day, I struck up a conversation with a local entrepreneur, selling his wares on the street. And I ended up venting to him and explaining what had happened. I was surprised that, after I had told him the story, he called her a “bitch”.

I thought that was pretty harsh. She wasn’t a bitch. She was just blowing me off. It happens. (It happens even more when travelling.) I had apparently been given a false impression. But hey, that’s life. So, I let it go.

I mean, I shouldn’t expect everyone to be able to handle my free-wheeling, internet-treehouse, California-bred, hippy lifestyle, right? 😉

Act 3: Discombobulated

And then, something oddly synchronistic happened.

While cycling around and deciding on where to eat, I turned around and saw her waiting by the curb, looking at me.

Seriously, what are the odds?

The conversation began with the obligatory “Hey! Whatcha up to? Good to see you!” type of sentences. She’d been under a bit more stress lately from her job, but otherwise well. And she was glad to hear the process of self-publishing my book was going well. We talked on the sidewalk for about 15 minutes, and then bid farewell.

As I locked up my bike a few minutes later, I realized something.

Her eyes.

There had been a kind of distant look within them. I didn’t want to pretend to know what was going on in her life. I didn’t. But after I reflected on how her presence made me feel, I realized that I felt a bit discombobulated after talking to her. It was as if her energy field was chaotic. And I had to ask myself: Did I really want to cultivate a friendship with such a person?


Just because this happened, doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong in this case. You can’t predict resonance. You can only test for it. I thought that, based on a common interest in personal growth, I had made a new friend, but I’ve learned that there are no guarantees. Even if someone shares a value that I hold deeply, it doesn’t mean they will be a good match for me socially. And, to be completely frank, if their energy field is discombobulated, it makes my decision even easier.

Resonance is everything. And sometimes, you may be truly surprised at who you find yourself in resonance with.

For instance, I don’t usually initiate conversations with people in high school, mostly because people tend to be rather unstable during that time in their lives. But that didn’t stop me from listening to my intuition and striking up a conversation with a decidedly rad student as I waited outside the following day. We ended up talking for over an hour. And the remarkable thing? I actually felt energized after the conversation. Think of it: A high schooler actually cultivating a good attitude and having a bright, positive energy about them? Totally.


I’ve come back to it again and again on my adventures, and it remains the single most important factor in predicting where a connection will go. And when you have resonance with a person, the friendship takes on a life of its own. A kind of “third mind” results from the two of you spending time together. And then the strength of the friendship is obvious.

Resonance is everything.
Trust it, and it won’t let you down.