Oh, The Things We Learn From the Places That We Go (speech contest draft II)

I received amazing feedback which helped as I redrafted the speech that I will deliver March 28 at the Plaza 400 Toastmaster Club’s International Speech contest.  Many people suggested the title needed work.  Others said I had to do a better job of describing what I learned and what I leave behind when I travel “naked”  A former Toastmaster wondered if this speech was more suited for a humorous speech and this advice comforted me when I slivered off humorous bits in order to meet the 7.5 minute maximum contest criteria   Here we go again, round 2:

Please welcome Greg Jonuk for his speech “Oh, The Things We Learn From the Places That We Go.”  “Oh, The Things We Learn From the Places That We Go,” Greg Jonuk.


  • If you travel for work, either to work, or away from work, put up your hand.
  • If you travel for family, either to them, or away from them, put up your hand.
  • If you travel to learn, either new things, or to unlearn ways of thinking that no longer serve you, put up your hand.

Madam/Mr. Chairperson, fellow Toastmasters, and most welcome guests.

I’ve learned tremendously from the travels I’ve been fortunate to experience.  For example, I’ve learned that bakeries, delis, and local eateries super-trump chain restaurants.  Why drop thousands of dollars & voyage half-way around the world for a Big Mac?  That’s what I would love to tell my stupid 23 year-old self.  I’ve also learned that hostels are a wonderful accommodation option for people of any age and that learning a little bit of a person’s language goes a long way.  However, today I will share with you the learning I cherish the most.  It may seem trivial on the surface, but underneath it’s mighty indeed.  It’s a concept I call, “traveling naked.”

The Shift
Now I don’t mean bare-naked.  I’m not telling anyone to go commando-full monty and chance visiting a foreign prison.  .  I’ve seen enough prison movies to know that would be no one’s happy place.  What I am advocating is a move to a more simple & minimalist type of travel and way of being.

And, this is not a way that I come easily to.  I’m by nature a kitchen sink traveler. Do you know what that is?  That’s right you bring everything you possibly think you might need. Which has led to some unusual items gracing my suitcase:  Duct Tape, Bubble Pipe, Toilet Plunger, even a hand-operated egg beater.  That’s what I felt I had to bring to be prepared.  

On my first solo international trip as a young man, I was a human pack train.   I had a 40 L backpack behind me, a day back inverted & strapped to my chest, a waist pack below, a carry-on in one hand and in the other, a large suitcase. And since I couldn’t fit all my clothing in all of that,  I also wore 2 to 3 layers of extra clothing on the plane. I had so much stuff on and around me I was 10 feet tall and bulletproof. I could have gone mano-a-mano with the Terminator, Robo Cop, Iron Man, maybe even the Pope-mobile.

 Now when I travel abroad, I use only a single carry-on daypack. Well that and a fanny pack because even at 44,  I’m still manly enough to rock that.  Although my pre-teen daughter tells me for the sake of my dignity, and mostly hers, I need to leave it behind.  I compromised with her, I still bring it, but I call it my tickle-trunk utility belt.  I learned that marketing sleight of hand from many a contemporary politician.

What I Leave Behind
People ask me what I leave behind to travel so nakedly.  First thing I do without is large luggage.  I’ve noticed that as people get more established in life, the size of their suitcases grow.  And I’ve also observed the travel law that we always pack to the size of our luggage.  I tried to leave a suitcase 3/4 full once.  Didn’t work, at the last moment I frantically stuffed it with “might need” items until the zipper ties held on for dear life.

I also cull clothing.  Tricky it is, everyone wants to look good on the road, but I’ve developed a system.  I deliberate over each item and ask myself a series of filter questions:

  • Is it white & easily stained?  If yes, it stays!
  • Is it bulky & heavy?  If yes, it stays!
  • Will it make me look fat?  Everything makes me look fat – it goes!
  • Will it dry overnight in a MacGyverian makeshift hotel room clothesline   If yes, it goes!

But perhaps the biggest thing I’ve left behind is the belief that things will get me out of travel trouble.  I’m talking about relying upon the latest electronic gadget, cell phone app, GPS flavored gizmo.  Instead, I pack simple, compact, lightweight human ingenuity.  Wit and savvy.  Toastmasters know about this.  That’s why we practice our improv speaking and thinking skills for real-life situations. We know that a PowerPoint slide deck is not the presentation but a visual aid.  And that a script of notes is meant to support us, not carry our weight. 

The Benefits
Where’s the meat you may ask, what will naked travel do for you?

Well, I no longer have to grunt & grown under a sherpa’s load with sweat streaming down and searing my eyes.  Now I can lift my head up and enjoy the place I am at.  I can be present in the moment, harvest the power of now, or however else those new-age, zen-like weirdos would word it.  You know who you are.

I also save a lot of money.  I no longer have to rent a mega taxi or small transport vehicle to get to and fro.  I have less to lose, less to replace, and I can sleep on a park bench now since I’ve got hardly anything to steal.  With less pack hauling, I no longer need a budget for foreign massage therapists, although letting go of that was tough.  I no longer have to rent an extra hotel room for missed flight connections and luggage storage while I’m out & about.  Now I can sightsee nimbly naked, even with my entire arsenal of luggage on my bare, hairy back.  

On that deprived note, ladies and gentlemen.  I urge you to  frolic in the splenditude of naked travel.  Today, I’ve explained why I’ve shifted towards wit & ingenuity instead of stuff, what I’ve left behind and the benefits I’m moving towards.  I can’t speak for my neighbors right next to to me on those planes, trains, and automobiles; knee to knee & thigh to thigh.  However, I’ve learned loads from the places I have gone, including the power, glory, and awesomeness of traveling naked. (end)

As before, your feedback is invaluable and very much appreciated – fire away!   Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at thejonuks@shaw.ca

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One Response to Oh, The Things We Learn From the Places That We Go (speech contest draft II)

  1. Carl Jensen says:

    Well done Greg, a fantastic speech!! Loved the reference to being 44 and wearing a fanny pack despite objections from the family!! I can relate!!

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