Yesterday’s premier destination is next year’s overcrowded flop. The best meal from today may spoil tomorrow. Roads deteriorate, as do hotels, clothes, and electronics.

Everything is temporary, even life itself.

That’s why my favorite place on Earth is not one specific location. It is a state of mind. It is a feeling.

My favorite place on Earth is joy.

Opportunities to experience joy are limitless. When traveling, it begins as soon as you can imagine it. Maybe it’s booking the flight or reserving the hotel. It might even come at the first time reading about a destination.

Upon arrival to a new place, the first human encounter is a great place to find joy. It might be a taxi driver or hotel clerk.

I greet them with a big smile and a simple question: How are you today?

Even if the response is a customary one-word answer, there is a chance it leads to something more. It might start to develop a feeling. One full of compassion and understanding. It shows that I care about you.

I see you as a person and I hope that your day is going well.

“What do you do for fun?” is a powerful question when traveling. It allows people to remember their passions in life, the reason they go to work, and the things they seek out to find joy.

Showing interest in the locals’ lives opens a door to new experiences and adventures. Happiness and positivity spread like wildfire when you let it.

What starts off as a bit of advice may develop into a friendly rapport. Eventually, it might become something very special. A laugh shared between two strangers.

If we get really lucky, joy takes over.

Joy is my favorite place on Earth.

I travel off the beaten path, searching for the undiscovered adventures. Searching for activities and sights which are full of positivity, full of beauty, full of love.

Sometimes I stick out like a sore thumb. I might even appear downright foolish. But that’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s something to cherish.

People may notice me. They may point at my silly hair or ask for a photo as if I’m a noteworthy celebrity. I look for the smiling people and smile right back at them. A second of eye contact and a smile from a complete stranger is powerful.

I look for the people running the market stall who are having their daily interaction with one of their favorite customers, easily identifiable by a giant smile and a fit of laughter.

The group of life-long friends, sitting together, enjoying their afternoon tea, giving each other a hard time over last night’s mishaps.

The outdoorsman who drops everything to show me the way. To give me advice on how to experience this adventure safely.

Then I try to repay them through my own knowledge or experience. Or even two simple and powerful words: thank you.

I look for the people full of joy. And I do my best to add to it.

Arriving to any destination with a full itinerary is bound to end in failure. Beautiful scenes and magical events lose their brilliance when your mind is distracted by the imaginary deadline you’ve created. An unexpected turn leads to a feeling of defeat.

It doesn’t have to be like that. Missed buses can make way to exploring a new area of town, one without preconceptions. An area where people live, where they love, and where they experience joy.

Joy can be found anywhere. You might experience joy during the highlight of your trip. The big adventure you’ve been planning on for months.

But more often, joy is found in unexpected places. 

As long as you are looking for it, joy is everywhere.

And that’s the key to my favorite place on Earth. Be open to joy at all times. Look for the best in people, in every situation you find yourself in, and focus on positivity and love. They exist everywhere.

My favorite place isn’t one place on Earth. It’s a place within yourself.

It’s joy.

  • Michael Bradley
  • : Michael grew up in Colorado and fell in love with a constant exploration of the great outdoors. He spent way too much time in school, then worked in the financial and legal worlds before starting the adventure-travel blog Off Path Travels with his wife, Kristina. Camping and backpacking are at the top of Michael’s favorite things in life, but he finds joy and happiness all over the world.
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  • : DITCH THE BEATEN PATH! Off Path Travels provides tips and guides from the road less traveled to help you plan your next adventure!
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  • : This is the first time this story has been published.

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