If I were asked a few years ago why I like to travel, my response would most definitely have been –
“To have fun.”
“I’m bored, I need change”.
Sure, the thrill of hopping onto a train and journeying to a new destination to escape the mundane is gratifying. However, as the years rolled by, what I sought from life changed, and consequently my reason for travelling.
I’ve always wanted to learn about different cultures, people and their roots, and travel gave me just that. Travel is the best guru one can have, and investing in these experiences is merely a small fee we pay a great educationist that teaches us more about life, people, and the real world than any brick-and-mortar institution ever could.
If I were to pick six vital lessons that travel imparts, here they are –
Travel changes our perspective.
Most of us have a dangerously limited amount of insight into other people, especially into those who do not share the same culture, background, and language as we do. It isn’t a surprise to us when we hear of savagery between people of different religions and places of origin, especially within our own country – something that should actually shock us to our core is dismissed as a normal occurrence.
Travel opens our eyes to different possibilities, to variations in people’s ways of living and thinking, and to the simple truth that coexistence is the only way to a peaceful survival. It shows us that it is our differences that make the world the intriguing place it is. In this day of increasing violence that stems from the sad reality that several cannot fathom that people can and will have differing opinions, desires, dreams, and defining values, travel (undertaken with an open mind) is the much needed remedy.
It teaches us discipline….
Have you ever wanted something so much, that it made you question your way of doing things, and how a small consistent change could be the way to achieving that something? To me, that something is travel, as I’m sure it is for many others. Our desire to explore new places, map the uncharted, amass experiences as valuable keepsakes drives us to lead a more disciplined life, so that we may achieve our wanderlust driven-goals.
Travel teaches us the value of saving from our paycheck and eliminating unnecessary expenses. It encourages us to put in that extra effort into researching and planning, even though we may usually like to go-with-the-flow. It edifies the importance of prioritizing, and it indoctrinates that we have a choice between what we really want to do and what others say we must do.
…And that losing control isn’t always bad.
During my trip to Greece, I found out that our booking was cancelled four hours before we were to arrive at the hotel. We did not have a place to rest for the night, and we desperately needed a comfortable stay since we had an early morning ferry the next day. Add to this, I’m someone who hates relinquishing control.
What do we do when this happens? What does one do when a train is missed, a flight is cancelled, or things do not go according to plan?
We let go, and then we act. We compose ourselves, because once the initial panic passes, we realize that we are faced with an opportunity to challenge our fears in an unfamiliar territory. We learn to navigate our way towards a solution, all the while realizing that not everything in life goes according to our plan. We come to terms with the reality that life will constantly surprise us – for better or for worse. It’s how we deal with these uncontrollable moments that defines and shapes us.
P.S. – We ended up booking a seedy hotel in a notorious part of Athens, and barely slept the whole night; but that’s a story for another post. 🙂
Travel shows us how to step out of our comfort zones…
Do you enjoy solo travel? I used to detest it!
To me, it meant going out of my safe space, having only myself to bank on. My first solo travel experience was a semi-disaster, which only solidified my disdain.
The fear of discomfort and of the unknown anchors us to the familiar, and leaves us stuck; there is no progress, and we lose out on opportunities that would have otherwise transformed our lives. Through travel, we learn to throw away the bows and sail away from the harbour. The more we travel, the more comfortable we get in the unfamiliar. It’s a peculiarly sweet emotion to feel at home when we know nothing around us, yet we are unperturbed
Today, I cannot wait to explore the world by myself. That one experience of being in an unfamiliar city taught me more about my ability to adapt and be resilient in the face of adversity than anything else, and I am eager to find out what my next solo adventure brings!
…And to enjoy one’s own company.
It is perfectly fine to travel with a group – be it with families, friends, or even unfamiliar people who are a part of a hike. It is equally beautiful to be able to travel with no one but yourself. Introspection and self-learning often take place when there are no external factors to distract the envelope of peace you’re trying to create for yourself.
Imagine feeling the waves gently touch your feet and run back to the ocean, or watching the morning sun rise from behind a majestic mountain, rendering an ochre tint to the sky. Imagine sharing these awe-inspiring moments in the quiet company of your best friend, your trusted advisor, your biggest critic, your unfailing companion through life – you.
Most importantly, travel shows us our place in the grand scheme of things.
Often, we are wont to believe that we are superior to our fellow beings – human or otherwise – for various reasons. It is somehow ingrained in us to demand for tangibles and intangibles that we are in no way owed, or are deserving of; that our place in the universe is one of spectacular power; that when things don’t go our way or we meet people who we do not see eye-to-eye with, we have all the right to wreak havoc because hey, we are entitled, aren’t we!
Travel helps peel away that layer of entitlement, and shows us that we are but a microscopic speck in the masterplan. While our existence does set into motion some events, we aren’t the only ones worthy of a second thought – the person seated next to us on the boat, or the one walking in front of us is just as deserving of happiness, love, and respect as we are.
Travel unites us. When we see the world through the eyes of others, we experience a connecting moment. Somehow, despite all our differences, we are one. Travel makes us richer, because sharing our travel stories in exchange for others’ is probably the best currency for the soul there is.
If there’s one thing you won’t waste your money on, it’s travelling. Travel the world. See another place. Discover a different point of view. Travelling is the antidote to ignorance, that’s so true. It changes your mind, your perspective, how you believe, what you believe. And one of the greatest things you can do when you travel is to travel to a country where they don’t speak your language…. just to make you realize how insignificant you really are. You are not the centre of the universe.