To say that travelling the world changes you as a person is a bit of a cliché. But it’s true. Not only do you learn more about who you are as a person when you come up against challenges and meet them successfully, but you also learn more about other people and the world around you.
I’ve been thinking recently about lessons travel has taught me and how it has altered my perspective in so many ways and I wanted to put my thoughts down in writing. So, here are 6 things you learn from travelling the world.
6 things you learn from travelling the world
1. The best routine is no routine
For many people, routine is an anchor that makes them feel secure. For me, it’s a ball and chain. I hate routine and get so bogged down doing the same things day in and day out. So, travelling is the perfect way to break out of my routine and live in the moment.
That feeling, when you wake up in the morning in a new city or different country with the world at your feet and endless possibilities is what travel is all about for me. The only problem is, living without routine isn’t realistic or even possible for most people. When I get home, I have things that need to be done and having some sort of routine in place is usually the best way to accomplish these things productively.
But having travelled frequently over the last few years, I can confidently say that, for me, the best routine is no routine! And that, generally, my mood is better when I have a varied schedule throughout the week. Knowing this, I make sure to mix things up as much as possible to stop my routine getting too stale, so when I have to be at home, I don’t feel the need to escape – too much!
2. The earth is precious and we must look after it
I’ve been blessed to travel to some incredible places and enjoy some of this planet’s epic scenery. When you see how spectacular this planet is, you realise how precious it is and how much damage we are doing to the earth and its resources.
Of course, this lesson is an obvious one for most people but it’s not until you travel and witness the effects of climate change first hand that it really hits home.
I’ve seen the damage we have done to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia – it is bleaching on a phenomenal scale and soon enough will be completely beyond recovery.
I’ve seen the effects of melting glaciers in Iceland and learned about the impact this will have all around the world.
And I’ve seen tourists climbing over vulnerable land, abusing animals for selfies and throwing trash in the streets. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
When I think about it, perhaps this is, in fact, the most important lesson of all. And the one that should drive us to action, even if it’s just making small changes to the way we live so as to have less of an impact on our home.
3. I can define what it means to be successful
In western society, we’re raised to believe that success looks a certain way. We’re supposed to go to university, get a great post-grad job, buy a house, get married, have kids and settle down with a house full of stuff.
What if I don’t want that? Am I weird? Am I unsuccessful because my life doesn’t look exactly like everyone else’s? Should I just conform to societal norms? No. Travelling has taught me that success looks different to everyone. There’s nothing wrong with the above-mentioned lifestyle, just the way there’s nothing wrong with the life I chose. At the end of the day, success can be defined in only one way. Are you happy? If you’re happy, you’re successful.
4. I should count my blessings every day
It’s true that in the western world we are very privileged. Most of us have everything we need to live comfortable lives, while millions of people live below the poverty line all around the world.
And yet, I still find myself wanting more. I’ll admit that I’m generally quite a discontent person; I always want more – more experiences, more holidays, more sun, more amazing food, more everything. So, being content and counting my blessings is something I really have to work on.
Travelling often helps me to appreciate what I have because I know that not everyone is in a position to travel. And quite often, I notice that the people who have less than me are the happiest, which means contentment is a mindset we can all achieve.
5. I don’t need material possessions to make my life meaningful
Advertising, and sometimes even other people, will have you believe that you’re a lesser person if you don’t own the latest technology, the most fashionable clothes or the newest car. But falling in love with travel meant I had to forfeit all of the above. I don’t have the latest phone, I’ve had the same car for 10 years and I rarely shop for new clothes because I’d rather spend my money on travel.
And guess what? I’m happy and feel very fulfilled without all of these material possessions. Yes, I’d like a new car but I don’t necessarily need one! I’m not a lesser person because I’ve not updated my wardrobe in a while. And I’m not out of date because my phone is a few models too old.
I guess really it goes back to the fact that you alone can define what success looks like to you. You don’t need gadgets and labels to do that for you.
6. Live in the moment
There are several times in my life where I can pinpoint a feeling of utter, sheer bliss. The one that stands out in my mind the most is when I was sat on the veranda of our log cabin near Yosemite National Park in California feeling the warmth of the December sunshine on my face. I could hear my friends talking in the background and the birds singing. I just remember feeling so happy and content in that moment and if I close my eyes I can go back to that veranda and relive that moment over and over again.
The reason why I remember it so vividly is because I was so present that all my senses were heightened and I soaked it all up. I wasn’t distracted by cameras, phones, or TV. I was just mindful of what I was experiencing.
The lesson? Learn to be present in the moment because those moments only ever happen once. Life races by so quickly and we’re all so busy that we often forget to stop and just be. Now, wherever I am, I try to spend a few moments being mindful and committing that view, feeling or experience to memory.