Traveling Farmers vs. Vacationers
Kimberly and I have always agreed that travel is the spice of life. Traveling is very important to us and we try to spend a lot of our harsh cold winters getting fully immersed in other cultures. We already do exactly what we love so we have never looked at them as vacations, but as travels. There may not be a distinction between the two for a lot of people, but we see vacations as needed breaks from work used to gain rest and relaxation. This doesn't describe our travels. We prefer expeditions and excursions, we like full immersion into a place and it's culture versus a few days buy a pool or on a beach having drinks and snacks delivered. Obviously we all need rest and relaxation to recoup our body and minds, we just don't use our travels to do it. Instead we typically return to the farm tired and drained from long days of exploring new places. It wasn't always like this though, we have grown and changed a lot over our 22 years of marriage.
We were married in Jamaica and there began our love of a deeper form of travel after realizing we were being lied to by a resort manager who wanted nothing more than all of their guests to never leave the resort. If you did want to leave the resort, they would want you to schedule any offsite activities through them. Right away I was suspicious that they just wanted to pad the costs to make profit for themselves. We had done our homework in advance and although Jamaica had/has some crime issues, we understood how to stay safe and the areas that were good for tourists so we were determined to explore. This was the year 2000 and the internet/youtube was not something we could use to research. So, I decided to take the resort manager up on his offer to book a little tour the city and see the local market just to see how it went. He had told us it wasn't safe to get our own rides, that they needed to get them for us. The manager mentioned he was going to call a ride for us and disappeared into the office. I felt confident in what I thought was happenning so I quickly went out the front door of the lobby to the street in time to see the manager come out of the office door down the block. He litterally walked into the middle of the street adn flagged down the first cab he saw and went back inside to inform us our driver was waiting. I couldn't even be mad, I was literally laughing out loud. We took that cab and made him our tour guide for the day and he was ecstatic about it. He was also about 70% cheaper than what the resort quoted which gave a lot of room for a very nice tip for him. Funniest thing from that trip was when he said he would take us to the weed farms to take our pictures with huge buds. Kimberly immediately says no no, that doesn't sound safe. The driver says " oh yes, it's very safe, there are lots of men with M-16's." :) We didn't take him up on that journey but over the years we've became much more bold. That was also our last stay in a resort where you'll never get the feel of a culture a city or its people.
Since then we've had a few instances of concern, but nothing that would ever change our desire to put ourselves out there and experience all we possibly can. Traveling as been a great way for us to open our minds and see what all is possible in the world, to determine what certain cultures and countries have figured out that maybe we haven't and how we can bring that home in to our lives. Typically we are looking for places somewhat off the beaten path or at least not on top of everyone's travel and bucket lists because those become too touristy for us. We travel during the offseason for the same reason, it gives us a chance to see these places more as they are vs. when they are geared up for tourists and are crowded and less friendly. We have also learned how to have incredible travels and experiences on a budget. I think most people don't understand how affordable travel can be vs. vacations. When we travel, we go to local markets and supermarkets to buy our own food to prepare (always whatever the locals are eating). This creates more of a cultural experience for us as well as being much cheaper. We directly find and hire locals for guides and drivers vs using agencies to drastically cut costs and ensure the local gets a much bigger cut and tips. We rent vehicles and drive ourselves when possible to give us more time to explore and it significantly saves on guides and drivers. When in Jamaica that time Kimberly hired a lady to do her hair through the hotel for our wedding. Upon spending time with the lady Kimberly eventually found out the lady was making approximately 20% of what the hotel was charging us. So the next time Kimberly needed her she contacted her directly and paid her the full amount the hotel would have charged. I'm telling you, the joy it brought to her as she explained that was more than two weeks of pay for her was nothing compared to what it brought Kimberly in making her that happy. We have never looked back and always work to find locals we can hire directly when traveling and shy away from any advertised "tour guides".
If you enjoy vacations and would like to take it to the next level and start traveling in order to partake in other cultures and make new friends then by all means just do it. Do not fear, do not worry, just do it. You see what most people fail to realize is that every nation in the world takes care of tourists better than their own people. Each government and it's people who depend on tourism works very hard to ensure you are safe and enjoy their country. So, just book that flight and Airbnb and show up like you live there now and make it work. That concern you have will quickly fade to excitement. Once you feel like a local in a place you feel confident that you've not just vacationed there, but you've lived there and it's a part of you forever. And Yes, we take our Qberryfarms products with us everywhere because we can't live without them and No, there has never been an issue at the airport with our hemp products :)