Travel Charms

November 19, 2013 12 Comments »

evil eye

The evil eye found throughout Turkey is supposed to ward off evel spirits.

I’ve been traveling for 7 years, thanks to a little luck, I’ve had relatively few bad luck experiences. Sure, I’ve experienced some issues – luggage delayed a number of times, flights canceled, items stolen, faulty gear, and illnesses. But none of these things were ever really serious or horrible. Not like my friend Charlie’s story of a bus hijacking in Africa.

So where do I get my good luck from? I’m convinced it’s from my ‘travel charms’. No, I’m not talking about my charming disposition.  I’m referring to the actual physical objects I carry with me everywhere I go. All travelers have them – little good luck pieces they accumulate and travel with hoping that it will ward off the travel demons and bad luck.

The strange thing is that I’m a super logical person – too logical most of the time. I’m not the type of person who gets my fortune read or plays the lottery – but there’s this little side of me that wants to believe in something out of my control. Kharma, luck, faith, rainbows – whatever you want to call it – I carry my travel charms around with me just in case.

These items though have very special meaning to me – they aren’t just your average four-leaf clover. They have a story to tell.

Buddhist Prayer Beads from Shangri-La China

Prayer beads China

While in Shangri-La China I visited a monastery early one morning. Inside the temple there was a monk selling prayer beads on a little table. The sandalwood beads caught my eye, but it was mainly the smell of them that made me fork out the money to buy them. Ever since then I feel like these beads are my protector – especially while driving in foreign countries. Shortly after I bought the beads my sister and I got stuck in a snow storm in the Mountains in Deqin – it was a harrowing ride down the mountain and all I remember is smelling those sandalwood beads to calm me down in the situation. Ever since they have been my protector on the foreign roads. They are so old and worn now that they recently broke. I carried around the beads in a baggie for months until I could find someone who could restring them – my sister-in-law came to the rescue!

Khata Scarf from Nepal

khata scarf nepal

When I left the remote village of Puma Nepal after volunteering there for 2 weeks they gave me an amazing sendoff. And one of the things they gave me in addition to many flower leis was a khata scarf. The khata  is a cream colored silk scarf given to people when they are arriving or departing. My time volunteering in Nepal changed me. The conditions were challenging and it taught me that I can tolerate anything. It built up my patience and understanding that nothing is permanent. I have been back to Puma and Nepal since then and have received a number of khatas. I’ve kept every one of them and bury them deep in my backpacks for good luck and protection.

St. James Pendant from Spain

St. James pendant Camino de Santiago

In 2012 I walked 441 miles across Spain on the Way of St. James better known as the Camino de Santiago trail. It was 5 weeks of memories and meditation time that I’ll never forget. I started alone and finished with friends for life. The long distance hiking was challenging at times, but the beautiful simplicity of life and thoughts are what I become addicted to. It was the first time that I had time to really take everything in, deep breaths of life and thoughts fueled my way across Spain. After I finished I was in Barcelona and came across this pendant in a jewelry store. The pendant is of St. James and represented Santiago as a region. I knew right away that this was a charm that I had to have. I worked so hard to finish that walk and I wanted something to remind me that no matter how hectic and uncertain life became again – that I would always remember the simple act of walking.

Prayer for Travelers from Argentina

prayer for travelers

While in Buenos Aires last year I was able to meet a travel friend of mine, Evelyn Hannon, the founder of Journeywoman, a site especially for women. Evelyn who is over 70 years old describes herself as a pioneer, “the grandmother of the women’s travel movement.” – she was the first female out there ‘blogging’ and deserves all of the accolades that she gets. Evelyn and I spent the afternoon together walking around Buenos Aires drinking coffee, catching up, and doing a little shopping. I went to the synagogue with her as she wanted to stop in the gift shop to get some gifts for friends. While there she bought me this little travel charm that I carry in my wallet every day. It is a Jewish Prayer for Travelers. The card is laminated and is written in Spanish and Hebrew. I’m not a very religious person but I was absolutely touched by her kindness. She said that someone who travels as much as I do needed this. For a moment I felt like I had my mother there on the road with me – yet unlike my mother, Evelyn fully understood what my travel life was like and the ups and downs that come with being in constant motion as she herself had done it.

Here is the English version of the Prayer for Travelers:

May it be Your will, Lord our and God of our fathers, to lead us in peace and direct our steps in peace; to guide us in peace, to support us in peace and to bring us to our destination in life, joy, and peace. Deliver us from the hands of every enemy and lurking foe, from robbers and wild beasts on the journey, and from all kinds of calamities that may come and afflict the world; and bestow blessing upon all our actions. Grant me grace kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who behold us, and bestow bountiful kindness upon us Hear the voice of our prayer, for You hear everyone’s prayer. Blessed are You Lord, who hears prayers.

Each of these items travel with me on every trip I make, so in a way I’m never alone. I wonder what new things I will pick up along the way over my next travels?

What travel charms do you travel with?

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