It might not be a coincidence if everyone who travels always comes back with this “thing”, you know : the big smile on the face, something new, fresh.
It might not be a coincidence either if people who travel keep doing it again and again.
But then, what is this fire that drives them to travel ?
I have been travelling for 10 years now, alone or with buddies, for longer and shorter durations, and in many different latitudes. It has become fuel for me: my projects and my choices are driven by it.
I am convinced that travel is an empowering way for personal enrichment and fulfillment, and that it does change your life for real.
I will explain here why and how it does. When I wrote down the reasons I had in mind, I realized that coincidentally I had 10. Well, 10 is a good number ; it’s serious and it’s marketing. 🙂
So, here we go :
10 reasons why travelling will change your life
First of all, let’s agree on what kind of trip I am referring to here.
Might be easier this way : let’s take a look at what I do not refer to when I say “travel” (even though it technically is – no doubt about it) : the 2 weeks annual paid holidays, organized group travel, all inclusive club or hotel trip, getaways on extended weekends.
It’s not a matter of whether it is better or not – no judgment here. From my point of view, the duration, the budget and the destination are not key elements here.
Though I do refer in this article to the trips that one does with a deeper purpose than the journey itself. Whether you are travelling alone or not, whether you go for 3 weeks or 6 months, what is the reason for this departure ?
Nowadays, we see more and more people travelling with a specific objective such as : a humanitarian trip, an environmental cause, a sports challenge, or a solo trip “to disconnect”. It is not only about going on a trip, but also to discover, or to prove something, to achieve a performance, to help others or to defend a cause.
That’s the kind of trip I’m talking about here.
The best way to empower yourself
As mentioned before, travelling is my fuel. It makes me grow as a person, allows me to become autonomous, and empowers myself.
When travelling, you step out of your routine – in which almost everything is on automatic pilot – you get out of your comfort zone. And this is where the magic happens. You get to live uncommon experiences. You exchange your usual environment for a different one, you are surrounded by unknown people, and with foreign sounds, flavors, smells. All your senses are awake. You are alive !
I remember unusual moments when, for example, I felt really small in huge natural areas such as Patagonia, or blessed while enjoying a sunrise, seated on a temple in Bagan, or even being truly amazed by the Northern Lights in Lapland.
When you are abroad, you have to adjust a bit your behaviors and habits, pay more attention to your safety, your health, your money… But no worries, these adjustments are instinctive. 😉
As a globetrotter, you are constantly learning, therefore your are growing. And in this way, travelling has a huge impact on you. Without any doubt, it is for me the best self-empowering tool.
You become resourceful
You quickly realize that things do not come to you by themselves. You to have to be adaptive and proactively make things happen. You become more resourceful and resilient ; whatever happens, you know how to find a solution. Being resourceful is, according to me, the most valuable skill to have when you are on a trip (and in life in general).
You learn how to communicate in any shape of form when nobody around speaks your language. You get better in organizing yourself, as well as your itinerary, or how to find a place to sleep or the right transportation. It becomes natural and easier to ask strangers for directions… You are just being more autonomous.
The excitement of discovering the world
One big element that makes me love travelling is the pursuit of discovery. It’s a great and motivating goal, and a fulfulling sensation.
It’s actually a multi-faceted discovery. You get to know new places, new people, different cultures and lifestyles. When you travel, it’s a great gift that you give to yourself. You get amazed by many uncommon things, you live unique moments, you are connected with natural elements, you can get lost in huge natural or urban areas, and you develop your curiosity and knowledge on many fields. : architecture, gastronomy, music, art, dance … just to name a few.
And from these discoveries, you learn. A lot. You allow your mind to open up, to admire, and you develop a sense of respect and humility towards nature and other cultures. You also realize how much you still don’t know, and it gives you the will of discovering and learning even more !
In my experience, the discovery is exciting and addictive. The more you discover, the more your curiosity is awake, and the more you want to see and experiment in the world. Is it why travellers never stop hitting the road ?
Communicating, whatever it costs
In addition, one of my favorite things in these discoveries is to interact with people. Unfortunately, I do not speak all the languages on Earth. Therefore, in situations where no one around me spoke English, I had to use consciously what we usually use mostly IN-consciously : the non-verbal communication ! Good news : we are all capable of doing it, and this is also something instinctive.
So I do communicate with gestures (my best imitation being the “chicken noodles soup” – I let you imagine what it can look like), the look, the smile… In the end, it is something easy, very useful, and it often puts you in funny situations.
Let me tell you the story : in Myanmar, my first time trying to get understood and order a “chicken noodles soup” was a total fail. I ended up with a greenish unappetizing slop – that I could not eat. 🙁
Note to myself : the trick is that you actually have to imitate the chicken… 😉
Open your mind…
Overall, what you experience while travelling allows you to open your mind. By seeing something different from what you know, by being in contact with foreign populations, you quickly realize that your way of thinking and living are not universal. What is common sense for you, might not be for the people you meet on the road – and vice-versa.
You might question yourself about your considerations, principles, and then maybe consciously adjust some of your established “settings”. Obviously it is not only by traveling that this process operates ; but I do think that when you are travelling and being away from your routine, you become less self-centered, more curious about the world surrounding you, and thus more able to think and evolve.
You might get access to thoughts about your life and the way you lead it, about relationships to others, about finances, work, and all the other topics you question. You also realize how much you have in your life, and feel grateful about it. On the other hand, it also shows you how much you don’t have, because there is just so much in this world. Btw, you’ll notice that it’s those who have the least who offer and share the most. (Surely one of my best life lesson I got so far)
…and put things into perspective
Experiences and discoveries also allow you to inform yourself and put things into perspective.
No, Colombia is not a country where drugs are found on every street corner ; no, Mexico is not the third world ; yes, Thailand has much more to offer than full moon parties ; yes some Chinese people spit – but Guess what? it’s not rude there ! On the other hand, if you blow your nose in front of them, you are the one who is disgusting. And yes, we are lucky to live in Europe, to have access to education, to health services…
Your problems are not as weighty as they may seem at times. You also become more appreciative of what you have at home. Even the small things. Trust me, after 4 months eating a lot of rice, – even for breakfast – I would have killed for a French baguette with salted butter…!
On another hand, you realize that happiness is not found in material possessions. You feel gratitude for basic necessities, and your re-order your priorities. You feel more humble.
I encourage everyone to go abroad, open their eyes, experiment and come back transformed ! 🙂
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert
These past years, my different travels have shaped the person I am today. They also have been powerful boosters for different stages of life or key projects. For me, it is a great way for personal enrichment, it makes me progress and it really does change my life.
The most pleasant feeling when you travel is to be free.
Indeed, you don’t have to go to work, nor make your bed, you can eat whenever you feel to, and you don’t have to rush because no one is waiting for you.
You manage your time, you don’t really have constraints. You go wherever you like, do whatever you like, whenever you like. Freedom is SO liberating !
When travelling, you get to appreciate things we do not even care about in our daily life. Simple and basic things such as : eating, sleeping, interacting with people, taking care of yourself, get moving, reading a book, playing cards, running on the beach, enjoying a sunrise … You finally take the time to live.
You are on a break, you live 200% in the present. It allows your body and your mind to be free, to listen and to reconnect. You take the time to think, to question, to imagine, to think about yourself, about others, to make plans, to dream… It is a true introspection. This, on top of the incredible experiences you’re living, brings you to serenity and fulfillment.
Many backpackers, when they come home, are feeling peaceful, and calm. They are also boosted, with fresh ideas in their mind, and a lot of motivation to create new projects.
You create your own project
When you organize a trip, of course you are super excited, you imagine scenarios in your head, you project yourself in foreign places … And this excitement goes crescendo when the departure date approaches. It’s thrilling !
This travel that you are organizing is a full project itself. A project that you create from scratch and that you make happen – it is quite a thing.
There are different things to do and to prepare, as mush as skills to develop. For example, it is necessary to save and manage your money, to know how to organize yourself on-site, to find transportation and housing, to think about your safety, get an adequate travel insurance… and to learn how to handle and manage unexpected situations. I personnally like more the adventurous way : I don’t think it is necessary to plan everything, but I like to foresee the different aspects.
When you come back home, you are filled with satisfaction : You made it ! You did step out of your comfort zone, you did go on a great adventure, you have now a lot of things to tell and share, and … you know how to travel ! Good job !
It is a real personal satisfaction to no longer be a spectator of your life, but to become the main actor of it.
Home Sweet Home
Leaving is exhilarating, but going home is also such a pleasure.
When you finally reach this feeling of serenity and fulfillment, this is the moment when your internal journey is coming to an end. You feel good, your are in agreement with yourself, and you are ready to go home.
I remember that at the end of my trip in Asia, I had 2 weeks of travel left, but I was feeling ready to go back. I think that internally, I reached the destination I wanted to and I had the answers I was looking for. I knew what I wanted to do and to accomplish, I could not wait to get back and work on my new projects – which I actually built during this trip. I was not sad to leave, because I knew that I was beginning another stage of my life upon my return. Well, I fully enjoyed these last 2 weeks, as the great final. 🙂
Create precious life memories
I am not such a materialistic person. I do value a lot experiences & life lessons rather than “stuff” we purchase and accumulate – stuff we think that define the person we are. This past years, I’ve always been working and saving money in order to fund my trips. In my opinion, money is the means, and experience is the purpose.
The experiences I have lived define who I am today, but they have also generated hundreds of memories. I do cherish them a lot, it’s my jewelry box. I keep some of them for myself, some others I share – it depends. I have memories of unique moments, where I was alone, without a camera to be able to capture them. Like this time when I was the only foreigner on a bus in Cambodia, and I communicated with children just by drawing. I also have shared memories with friends, like blowing my 24th candle on the Great Wall of China, celebrating the New Year’s Eve in Bangkok, crossing Patagonia by bus with my traveling BFF… And also more memories shared with travel buddies I will probably not see again soon.
So here we are, the journey that will change your life is the one that will enlighten your face when you get back. You have this special “thing”, you are changed. Yes, you look good, but it’s mainly inside that it feels good. You feel aligned with yourself, you know better where you are going. And you maybe are already thinking about your next trip. 🙂
Travelling is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Get to discover new and different things, open your mind, be free and enjoy it, learn to manage every unexpected situation, become more autonomous, responsible, and enjoy the whole thing. Enjoy the excitment before going, enjoy to experience the unusual, and enjoy coming back home.
A meaningful travel is a liberating realization, and your best tool to empower and develop youself. It does change your life.
I highly encourage you to go on an trip. Just think about it, and maybe one day you’ll be ready to make the step.
I hope you liked it. Please do not hesitate to share this article around you, especially if you know people for whom it could resonate 🙂
I would love to hear your feedback, either in comment section below, or by writing to me here. Thank you !