How To Go On An Urban Vision Quest

American Indians, and other indigenous peoples, would head off into the forest all by themselves where they would spend time alone, searching for a vision to help them attain a new level of understanding. Some might go on a vision quest as a rite of passage, others might go on a vision quest because a change must happen and a vision quest can force that change to occur. The length of time can be anywhere from a single evening, to a week, to much longer.

In the world we inhabit, spending time alone in the forest is not an option for most. It can certainly be tried but the likely outcomes can be 1) Being arrested for vagrancy 2) Dying from ingesting poisonous berries or 3) You obtain your vision. In this post we will go over an Urban Vision Quest.

An Urban Vision Quest is a quest one takes in a city or other populated area rather than spend time alone in an unpopulated piece of nature. An urban vision quest can be had anywhere except for the city you live in. It must be an unfamiliar place where you know not a single soul. It can be the next city closest to you, it can be in the next State closest to you, it can be in the next Country closest to you.  As anyone who has ever lived in a densely populated megapolis knows, walking through a crowded city can be every bit as lonesome as being in the forest. To go on an urban vision quest you only need to be alone with your thoughts, it matters not how many people are around.

The amount of time is up to you. You can choose to spend a single evening in a new city, a few days in a new city, a week, or months. The rules are simple: pack as light as possible. Only bring necessities like a few pieces of clothing, toiletries, and money. Arrive at your destination with no plans whatsoever. End up wherever you end up. Just let yourself be guided. The very likely outcome is that you have a brand new appreciation for what you have. You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Spending a night alone in an alien city is a surefire way to make you thankful for everything great you have in your life.

If one is only doing one-day, mini excursions then one will not be enough. Going on a mini vision quest once per month is ideal. Take the time to get away from all the nonsense of the daily grind, live life anew, if only for an evening, and return with a new sense of appreciation.

A week in a foreign place is great. Perhaps the greatest thing a one week vacation can do is help you realize you have been slaving away like a racing dog for this one week vacation per year when you could have a vacation like this all the time.  Spend a week on the beach in Thailand and then go back to work Monday morning and pretend you don’t want to yell “I QUIT” at the top of your lungs. This could light a fire under your ass and motivate you to start your own gig where you are making money for yourself and, more importantly, have more of your most precious commodity – time.

The most extreme option, and, therefore, my favorite, is to go live in a completely foreign place for 6 months to a year. A few months of savings in a western country can equal 6 months to a year of living in a 2nd or 3rd world country. After living in a foreign country you can never be the same person you were before. Whether good or bad, a change will occur. In this author’s humble opinion, everyone should spend at minimum 6 months abroad to live life in a different way and obtain your vision.

If a change is needed, an urban vision quest is the answer. Get going because time is wasting.

“I’m a thousand miles from nowhere, time don’t matter to me.

I’m a thousand miles from nowhere and there’s no place I wanna be.”

Dwight Yoakam, A Thousand Miles From Nowhere


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  1. David says

    Nice article. But what about when you’re married with kids. Do going abroad and relax in a foreign place in family still work?

  2. John says

    I couldnt agree more on this with dear Viktor.

    My life completely when I went to live for 5 months in India, when I was 25.
    I am currently in China, 3 months now doing business, and plan to stay for a year here. If I manage to establish a good business line and make good deals between China and Greece (I am from Greece), for sure I will roam around the countries around China. Have Shenzhen as my base and take small trips in places like Tibet, Philippines, Thailand for a month or so to each place.

    I confirm 100% what Viktor says in this article, especially that you see life as simpler and also appreciate what you have back home. You also realize that you can live with much less than you thought. The mind changes, and you see things differently. Living in a foreign country, I also take better care for myself cause I have nobody to really-really care for me if something happens to me. (only my mother and maybe 2 friends and a beloved ex-girlfriend would really care for me back home actually), so you start paying attention to your well-being when in a foreign country. You get into survival mode, even though you might have a relatively high income for that country and everything is easier of course, still you get into survival mode and your attention and focus sharpens. I could write a lot more on the topic, but it would be a second article here, so I will stop here.

    Thank you Viktor, for giving the chance to share this.

  3. Fidel says

    I’m surprised I have not read this article before! Must have missed it when going through your other awesome posts and books.

    By far, my favourite thing to do is walk. Wander, if you will. Especially where others won’t tread, and no one will find me. I’ve wandered through a coyote-infested wood in the dark. Tried to walk to the Rocky Mountains with only the shirt on my back. Stumbled half-drunk through the entire city of Osaka (and made it to my hostel without knowing any useful Japanese). Found loaded guns and other trinkets nobody would notice at the harbour of Toronto. Almost slipped down an icy path in the mountains of Northern Spain. Hiked through a Philippine jungle during a thunderstorm. Barefoot. Got lost in my own neighbourhood (by trying another path) and found my way out again.

    Some of these things sound like big, exciting adventures (and some don’t), but they all have something in common: I was just walking. I didn’t plan a huge getaway adventure. I didn’t prep by learning the language, packing tons of things and hiring a guide. I just went to those places, and walked. I picked up what I needed when I needed it, whether it was supplies, language, habits or info.

    I’ve never called my walks “vision quests”, though I suppose they could count as such. At least for myself, there is something much more natural and much more fulfilling about a simple walk. Probably the most natural thing we can do as humans. So natural, perhaps, that most people, except for little kids and retired homebodies, forget that they can in fact enjoy something as simple as a walk.

    Thanks Victor.