Have you always doubted the science of travel, of the innumerable articles glamourizing travel?
As a full-time traveller and one who travels for a living (by choice), I have experienced the full effects that travel has on our physical and mental health and well-being.
Here are some of the life lessons I have learned from a life of travel, and why I am convinced that travel makes you a better person.
Travel opens up your eyes
This is undoubtedly the biggest life-changing takeaway I have gleaned from travelling. Travelling has allowed me to meet and talk to different people from all walks of life and be exposed to differing opinions and perspectives.
I used to think that life is nothing more than chasing the grades, the corporate ladder, of striving towards finding the perfect house and the perfect family to be considered successful.
Travelling has opened my eyes to the different lifestyles, career paths and choices that people make in different parts of the world – whether it be living a minimalistic lifestyle, living out of a shoebox home or cycling around the world – and finding fulfilment and purpose in it, whatever direction they choose. They have made a difference and found success and happiness in their own little ways.
Where I used to have a one-track mind, I have now become more open to possibilities.
Travel promotes creativity
When we get so caught up in our daily routine and facing the same environments day in and day out, it is hard to think outside the box.
When we travel, we are faced with unexpected circumstances, we open our eyes to new environments and are in a relaxed state of mind.
It is then can we allow ourselves a fresh perspective on old experiences and begin to see things we have not before.
In philosopher Alvin Toffler’s words, it is only when we are able to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” can we survive and thrive in the evolving world.
Travel makes you more tolerant
When I stay with hosts in their homes (usually through Couchsurfing) and get to know them better through our interactions, I become more aware of the differences in the way of life, communication, habits, quirks and lifestyles between different people.
The concept of time, cleanliness, courtesy and dressing varies from country to country, town to town. Being a world traveller, being open and tolerant is something you acquire along the way, and with that, adaptability.
You become more adaptable
Through travel, you will learn that as much as you plan and prepare, life is like boomerang and it always throws you a curve.
You will learn to be less uptight, less of a perfectionist and take things in your stride when things do not always go your way.
Travel makes one humble
Coming across lands and people who are less privileged than you, you will begin to appreciate the simple pleasures.
Through these experiences, there is no denying how fortunate you are, no matter how bad a place you think you are at right now.
You will realize you have so much to be grateful for – the people around you, the comforts you take for granted, a soft bed, a roof over your head. The simple basic necessities you often overlook are suddenly worth so much more.
Travel makes you rekindle your love
They say absence makes the heart fonder. Being constantly surrounded by people who matter the most can sometimes take a toll on your relationship with them.
When you take time off from them and begin to travel without your loved ones, you will begin to realize just how pivotal they have been in your life. You look back on hindsight and really appreciate how indispensable they have been to you, and how your life has been greatly influenced by their presence in a way you do not see when you are constantly around them.
You are capable of more
Travel forces you out of your comfort zone. You learn to be independent, you are forced to get out there, to improve your social skills and talk to strangers, to try new things and to do things that previously scared you.
Believe it or not, through travelling, you will not only discover new places, but you will learn a hell lot more about yourself in the process – the way you react, deal with things, solve problems, interact, your preferences, your travelling style, etc.
You become more responsible
Indubitably through travel, you will learn to live with your own consequences. You are responsible for your life, your own safety, the kind of life you want to lead and your finances. Through the travel process, you have to be street smart and sensible if you want to survive the world out there.
Travel gives you the chance to remove yourself from toxic environments
In life, you are sometimes thrown in situations where you have no control over. You might have uncooperative team mates, colleagues that backstab, projects that you abhor. These toxic environments might be detrimental to your mental health and well-being.
When it comes to travel, you are the master of your destiny! You have ultimate control over where you want to go, how you want to explore, who you want to share your memories with. While you might not be able to get out of the toxic environment in the short term, travelling allows you to escape momentarily and find yourself.
The power of kindness
Having couch surfed around Europe, New Zealand, Japan and around the world, I have experienced unconditional kindness that surpassed any expectation I had of strangers. These hosts provide a roof above your head, sometimes offer you homemade cooking and go all out to ensure you feel right at home in their place.
Finding a home away from home is a heartwarming feeling you will treasure so fondly especially when you are in a place so foreign to you.
You can focus better
In today’s world where we are faced with ongoing stimulus, there is always the need to have something going on at every second of your life. When nothing is going on, you have the urge to look for something to do to occupy our time, and we so often turn to social media to fill that gap. As our attention spans today get shorter and shorter, we are finding it harder to stay in focus.
Travel allows you to immerse in your surroundings in real life. The beauty of nature and new discoveries will have you immersing wholly in your surroundings with your five senses – it is hard not to when the scene before you resembles a wallpaper and it takes your breath away – an occurrence I have found myself revelling in multiple times travelling across New Zealand.
Even if you are travelling with them, you will get to see a side of them you do not usually see in your day-to-day life, and that could remind you again of why you are still by their side.