Have you ever thought of what happens when you travel? Of course, you have a good time (usually), but other things happen under the surface that you might not be aware of.
The trip that has affected my life the most so far was my trip to Peru. It was only a 10-days-trip, but it helped me realize how I want to live my life and where I want to be. It also helped me rediscover my core values. It was the kind of trip that teaches you how to rely on yourself and trust the universe that everything will be okay. I was travelling alone to a foreign country for the first time in my life, and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had.
A couple of months ago, I listened to a podcast episode by Tim Ferriss about the importance of travelling, and that sparked the idea of writing this post.
So what are some reasons why travelling will change your life?
1. You are Able to Get a Bird's Eye View on Your Life
When you get away and are removed from your environment and your routine life, a new perspective appears in front of your eyes that allows you to examine the good, the bad, and the stagnant things in your life. You might not come up with breakthrough conclusions, but seeds of things you want to change right now and maybe even things you want to do later in the future will be planted. It is very hard to examine routine and quality of life while you are so deeply rooted in it, but when you get to take a break from everything, that's when your inner voice will sound louder than normal, and you will know what things you want to keep doing and what things you want to change.
For me, I suddenly realized that there was so much more to life. Before my trip, I was craving for growth as everything else in my life had been the same for some time. My trip to Peru opened my eyes to other ways people live their lives, which were completely different than how anyone I have known lived their lives. I was amazed that there were other ways of living life, and through those stories, I was able to reevaluate my own life and realize how I wanted to change it.
2. You Change Your Brain as You Go Through New Experiences
Your brain's chemistry actually changes when you go through new experiences and learn new things, which you have no shortage of when you travel. Dr. Joe Dispenza, explain this process in his book You are the Placebo, "Research shows that as we use our brains, they grow and change, thanks to neuroplasticity — the brain's ability to adapt and change when we learn new information. When you learn new things and begin to think in new ways, you are making your brain fire in different sequences, patterns, and combinations. That is, you are activating many diverse networks of neurons in different ways. And whenever you make your brain work differently, you're changing your mind. As you begin to think outside the box, new connections form new thoughts that lead to new choices, new behaviours, new experiences, and new emotions. Now your identity is also changing." The process that Dr. Dispenza describes is definitely something I can vouch for as it has happened to me many times before, especially during my trip to Peru. By the way, I highly recommend this book. It will change your life!
Although I couldn't see how I was changing throughout my trip, I definitely felt it. I felt that I learned more about life. This new knowledge allowed me to see everything through a new set of eyes, which enabled me to understand some of the mysteries in our lives on a deeper level. This new perspective was a life-changing moment that enhanced my experiences on the trip and my life thereafter. I suddenly felt free and more in control of my life than before. The feeling of life controlling me diminished, and instead it was replaced with confidence and a strong belief in myself.
3. You Learn to Appreciate Home More
When you are so used to living in your home environment, it is hard to even begin to comprehend how different life can be somewhere else. But when you travel to other places and see how different daily life is, you learn to appreciate certain things about your home.
During my travels in Peru and in Israel, I really learned to appreciate having heaters and warm water at all times back home in Canada. When I was in Israel in the winter, I had to use cold water to wash my hands, my face, and even do dishes. I absolutely hated it. In Peru, there were no heating systems in the hostels, restaurants, etc., so I had to dress in layers. I wore more than one pair of socks when I went to bed and made sure I was wrapped in blankets head to toe. As a person who is almost always cold, I was really struggling to keep myself warm. Thankfully, I found ways to overcome this.
4. You Get an Opportunity to Break Old Habits & Form New Ones
As soon as you get a break from your routine life, you get an opportunity to break from your old habits, and even form new ones. When you are away from your familiar environment at home for a long period of time, you are forced to adapt to a new environment. But then you are also given a choice — either to continue doing things the way you’ve done them at home or try doing things a bit differently so that they will fit in the new environment that you are in. As a side note, the former might be more challenging to execute because you are not in your ideal environment. In essence, you have an opportunity to try things you've always wanted to do but simply couldn’t bring yourself to do because of one reason or another. Sometimes circumstances really teach you a different way of doing things, maybe even a better way. Don't get frustrated if this does not happen on short trips since it takes about 66 days to break an old habit and form a new one.
A very persistent habit that I was able to transform is washing dishes. Growing up, I did dishes on a daily basis, and as I grew up, it became one of my least favourite things to do. And somehow, it always ended up being one of the last things I did around the house, or I kept deferring it until I ran out of clean dishes. When I went to Israel this year for 2.5 months, I had to relearn to do dishes at least twice a day, since my grandfather did not have a dishwasher at his place (which is also a pretty common thing in Israel - not to have a dishwasher that is), I had to do dishes every day. That change of habit came with me back to Canada, and ever since, I feel the need to do the dishes when I see a pile in the sink. I realized that I save so much time when I do this in increments instead of standing there and doing the dishes for 40-45 minutes every couple of days.
5. You Learn New Things about Yourself
When you find yourself in a new environment with new people, and you know you only have yourself (or the person you're travelling with) to rely on, you can find yourself exhibiting behaviours you didn’t know you had in you. You learn to trust your judgment more, push your limits, and get out of your comfort zone because you don't have much to lose, and the people you meet on the road you might never see again, so it's easier to be a bit more daring. That’s where true growth comes from.
Throughout my solo travels in Peru and Greece, I learned that I like to take my time when I travel. I like to experience the place fully as much as I can. I like having a general plan of what I want to do, but I also really like being spontaneous and seeing what magical places it would lead me to. As a photographer, I also really enjoy taking pictures while travelling. And that's another reason why I prefer taking my time when being in a new place — so I could really grasp its vastness, take it all in, and appreciate it fully.
6. You Realize What Your Values are & Get to Reevaluate Them
The more new experiences you find yourself in when you travel, the more you discover what your values are and how meaningful they are to you. Sometimes, after being exposed to other ways of living, you start to reevaluate your values as they seem to no longer make sense to you. As Mark Manson refers to it in his book The Art of Not Giving a F*ck, "Travel is a fantastic self-development tool, because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function and not hate themselves. This exposure to different cultural values and metrics then forces you to reexamine what seems obvious in your own life and to consider that perhaps it's not necessarily the best way to live." He also mentions that after travelling long-term in over 55 countries, he realized that he wanted to live in a permanent place, have a permanent job, and be in one steady relationship. That's what he valued more than meeting new people and forgetting about them as soon as he moved to the next country.
This reevaluation process does not necessarily happen only when you travel, but it certainly happens faster when you are on the road. That's because when you travel, you get to meet so many new people and you go through so many changes and experiences within a relatively short period of time. When that's compared with what you would've gone through during the same period of time back home, you realize that you wouldn't have experienced nearly as much or none of it at all.
The realization that I had while travelling was that I really enjoy being in nature. I want to be in nature as much as I can. I never knew I needed it to be such a centred piece in my life, but it turns out I get so energetic from being in nature, that ultimately it's a source of happiness for me.
When I was in Peru I also had the pleasure of going to a salsa club to get some free dancing lessons. DANCING was so much fun. I forgot how much I enjoyed it, how alive it made me feel. For me, it is an expression of love, and I sure want to feel it as much as I possibly can.
7. You Meet New People
The people you meet while travelling can quickly become lifelong friends or acquaintances that let you stay at their place when you visit their city. Not only that you get to make new friends when you are travelling, but you also get exposed to other cultures and really get the “hands-on” experience of that culture/country without even being there. You get to learn so much from the people you meet along the way, whether it’s about how they do things differently or what life is like where they live.
During my trip to Peru I met so many people in the span of 12 days, and some of them I still keep in touch with now (1.5 years later). The people that I met taught me how to dance salsa, what the staple dishes in the Peruvian culinary are, what it takes to become a tour guide in Peru, what Ayahuasca ceremony is, what it means to chase your dreams fearlessly without worrying about the future, what the process of becoming a teacher in Germany is like, and more. The people that I met really inspired me to live my life to the fullest. Hearing about their stories of how far they have come to get to where they are, really gave me a boost of confidence and hope.