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Travel can completely change your life, right? That’s certainly something that you hear often, and from many different sources, at any rate, and it’s not just a slogan or an accidental turn of phrase that gets thrown around, either.
Many people do genuinely feel that their lives have changed for the better, in ways they could scarcely previous have imagined, thanks solely to the fact that they put their fears and reservations behind them, and set out on the open road to find adventure, discover themselves, make memories, and forge connections.
But the question is; does traveling automatically turn you into a different, and better, person, or do you have to approach your travels in a particular way, and with a certain mindset, in order to really get those transformative benefits?
Just as we all probably know people who have been transformed for the better by their travels, we also probably all know people who have been around the world but who haven’t managed to improve themselves or escape their demons, regardless of how far from home they’ve gone.
If you want to use your travels to completely transform your life, here are a few suggestions that might help you out.
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Don’t just do a weekend trip — actually spend a year or so abroad
- 2 Become a travel writer, even if it feels awkward, even if at the beginning you need to start small
- 3 Understand that the true journey takes place within — pay attention to what you can learn and change about yourself, on your travels
- 4 Use your travels as an opportunity to leave behind the distractions of your ordinary life, and find a place of simplicity
Don’t just do a weekend trip — actually spend a year or so abroad
Weekend breaks are great in all kinds of ways and for all kinds of reasons, but it’s simply a fact that you’re never going to deeply immerse yourself in the history and culture of a place, or get a sense for how the native people live, if you’re only stopping by for a couple of days.
It seems like many of the deeper benefits of travel come when people really immerse themselves for a while in a different environment than their own native one, and when they force themselves to engage in a significantly different style and mode of life for a while.
If you want your travels to be a truly life-changing experience for you, then doing what you can to actually spend an extended period of time living abroad — around a year or so, for example — might be a key step to consider.
Likely, you’ll be able to find a rental house in Singapore or wherever else you plan on visiting, and if you’re able to work remotely, or else have a good amount of money saved up, this dream might be a lot more realistic than you might otherwise have thought.
When you immerse yourself in a different environment in this way, your entire way of viewing the world is influenced. You pick up words and concepts for the local language which you might not even have considered from your own everyday position, in your own corner of the world. You enter into a different pace of living. You simply get a different take on things.
Of course, all of these benefits depend on the idea that you’re going to actually go to the effort of involving yourself in the society and culture, as opposed to merely living there and spending all of your time involved with the local expat community, of people from your own home country.
Become a travel writer, even if it feels awkward, even if at the beginning you need to start small
Writing is a pretty incredible thing, when you think about it, but very few people feel comfortable enough with their writing to actually take it up as a regular exercise or lifestyle practice.
When you write things down — and especially when you write about your own experiences — you are forced to process information on various different levels. You have to distill and refine your understanding of an idea, so that you can communicate it well and effectively. It doesn’t work just to explode all of the contents of your mind randomly onto the page, without any structure or consideration
Since you have to really consider and distill your ideas when you’re writing, the art of writing in and of itself helps you to understand yourself, your feelings, and your experiences better. It also helps to clarify and focus your memories and your sense of priorities.
It’s entirely possible to have an experience which didn’t really have a transformative effect on your life when it occurred but which, once you’ve thought about it later, and written about it, gives you insights that completely change how you behave in the world around you and think about things.
When you’re out on your travels, becoming a travel writer can do a profound amount of good for your self-development, and can ensure that you get the most benefit possible from your journeys.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to become a professional travel writer, in the sense that you make a living from writing travel books or articles. In fact, you don’t even have to have your writings published anywhere — not even on your own blog if you don’t want. And you don’t have to be a great writer, either.
Simply the act of writing in and of itself will result in powerful benefits, even if it’s only a few lines a day you keep in a handwritten journal for your eyes only.
Understand that the true journey takes place within — pay attention to what you can learn and change about yourself, on your travels
There’s a powerful idea that has been written about here and there, which is that when you travel, and feel that the experience has transformed you in some way, you’re really growing because the outward journey has caused you to look within in a way that you haven’t before
In this view, the actual fact that you’re traveling through physical space is pretty much irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. What really matters most is that you’re traveling within
Whether or not you take this view at face value, it’s hard to deny that self-development comes, to a large extent, from self-knowledge — which is, ultimately, the ability to look within and to understand your internal struggles, motivations, drives, and fears, and to do something meaningful with that material.
On your travels, you should always be looking for lessons, from the outside, that can apply within. If you have an exciting experience skydiving that makes you feel rejuvenated and reborn, what is the underlying lesson or message that you can take away? Maybe that facing up to life, taking risks, and being daring, causes you to feel exhilarated? Maybe that, too often in your life, you let your fears dictate your behavior, and breaking free from that cycle might be a key to becoming a better version of yourself?
Use your travels as an opportunity to leave behind the distractions of your ordinary life, and find a place of simplicity
Everyday life is filled with an almost unbelievable number of distractions and concerns both big and small. While it’s impossible to leave all stress and drama behind you, completely, while you’re on your travels — you certainly can take advantage of the fact that you’re entering new environments, and use it to adopt a simpler approach to life.
Drop or limit your social media use. Shrink down the number of goals you’re actively pursuing. Identify what’s most important to you, when all is said and done, and then focus on those things
If your travels just add layers of complexity to your life, you’re almost missing the point. Your travels should strip back some of the meaningless noise, and put you face to face with what you consider to be meaningful.