Sitting in the breakfast area at a resort in Phuket, Thailand, I noticed all the other guests were eating, talking with colleagues, or working on their phones, while paying little attention to the amazing people taking care of them. Absorbed in their own lives, they didn’t bother to acknowledge the people keeping their food fresh, picking up their plates, offering to refill their glasses, and cleaning up after them when they left. As they finished, most walked away without even a glance to say thank you.
For some reason, I found it easy to put myself in the workers’ shoes that day. I was humbled by the thought that they had to get up very early in the morning to make sure everything was ready for us. How nice it would be for someone just to smile at them and say thank you!
Over the years, I’ve concluded that there are two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. Takers are always looking to extract whatever they can from life and are not interested in what they contribute. Self-absorbed, they only care about themselves. Givers, on the other hand, are concerned about other people and the impact they have on them. They care more about the quality of an experience and how they can help others experience more and enrich their lives. Givers live by the idea that you “first give and then you may receive.”
In my opinion, it is much better to be a giver than a taker. About ten years ago, I decided that I wanted to become a world-class giver who surrounded myself with other world-class givers and to get all the takers the hell out of my life as quickly as possible. Since then, I’ve successfully done this and the quality of my life has improved dramatically. Now, everywhere I go people ask me, “Paul why are you doing that? You spend so much time helping other people learn about Lean and improve their organizations and you ask for nothing in return!” The answer is simple: I understand the power of being a giver, and in order to have a rich life you must first learn to give.
At this point, you might be thinking, “Why are you telling me this at the beginning of a book called Lean Travel?” The reason is quite simple. In order to have a great travel experience, you must approach it from the standpoint that you are going to treat all the people you encounter with dignity and respect, understanding that they are working hard to help you have a great trip. If you regularly give them your respect, your smile, your encouragement, and your gratitude, your travel will be a blessing!
In addition to being grateful, another way to make your travel experience more fulfilling is to live by the adage that “less is more.“ In a Lean Travel context, this means travel light. For example, I bought a pair of high-quality Keen sandals, thinking they would be the ultimate travel sandal. After a few trips around the world, however, I realized they were really quite bulky and heavy. They were also a bit overkill for what I needed, which was mostly when walking to the hotel pool or restaurant.
So, in adherence to my philosophy of traveling light, I found a very inexpensive pair of sandals for five bucks and I turned in my $70 pair of Keens. This is a perfect example of Lean Travel, because it demonstrates how a simple two-second improvement can make travel more effective and enjoyable. My suitcase weighed about four pounds less, everything packed up easier, and the new sandals were absolutely perfect for my needs.
As you start this book, I want you to understand the two main parts of my Lean Travel philosophy. First, what you give in the travel experience will have a profound impact on how much you enjoy it. Second, the less you bring and the lighter you travel, the more you will be able to feel and adapt to the fantastic trade winds of the travel experience. So travel with a full heart and a light suitcase!