6 Ways in which Traveling Makes Me a Better Person
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”
– David Mitchell
Traveling has always been an essential part of my life. Thanks to my family, I was introduced to the world of travel at a very young age. The first trip that I can remember was the trip to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Gangtok with my family and relatives. I was eight. I vividly remember pestering my parents to “Take me to the snow area” throughout the uphill journey to Nathula Pass only to end up crying from the freezing cold temperature at the snow point.
I like to look at my travel experience so far as consisting of three phases. The first phase being my childhood days when I was too young for it to have any major impact on me. The second phase was the one during my late teens when my parents handed over the responsibility of planning trips to me. The third phase is the one I’m currently in where I have the freedom to independently go on trips with complete control of it – from planning to financing. It has been the most rewarding and challenging phase so far.
During this phase, I’ve realized that traveling has been nothing short of a transformative experience for me. As someone who keeps pondering about the past and planning for the future, traveling helps me come back to the present moment. Through my travels, I have learned new perspectives, made unforgettable memories, and developed a sense of empathy and compassion for others. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the ways in which travel has transformed me as a person.
1. Traveling empowers me
Freedom is everything and traveling provides me with a constant supply of freedom. When I’m traveling, I feel like the world is mine to explore. One of the biggest ways in which travel has changed me is by making me more independent. It has taught me to be self-reliant, be it navigating in a country like China where Google and WhatsApp are banned (and most locals speak only Mandarin) or figuring out the public transportation system in London. Traveling also puts you in situations where you need to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. No book or school can teach us to be street-smart. Only first-hand experiences, mishaps, and challenging situations especially in an unknown environment will teach us how to be street-smart.
Traveling has taught me that independence isn’t just about being self-reliant. It’s about taking ownership of your life and making decisions that align with your goals and values. Whether it’s choosing to take a solo trip or simply saying no to something that doesn’t feel right, travel has been one of the factors that have helped me cultivate the confidence to stand up for myself and follow my own path.
Travel has also helped me identify my privileges. As much as I’m grateful for being in a position in which I can travel, I realize how privileged I am to have the time, freedom, and money to be able to travel. This might sound silly but there have been moments when I’ve even felt grateful for my eyesight, ability to walk, good health, etc.
2. Traveling keeps me motivated
Traveling not only feeds my curiosity about the world but motivates me to do better. My passion for collecting new experiences keeps me motivated. It has been an encouragement to make and save more money and spend lesser on materialistic things. Even when I’m planning for an upcoming trip, it becomes the driving force behind my mundane tasks. Suddenly, working extra time becomes a small price to pay for the exhilarating travel experiences ahead.
Beyond the gleaming skyscrapers, efficient transport systems, and bustling tourism, it is the collective spirit of human innovation that truly inspires awe. These creations are not merely physical structures or systems but reflections of our aspirations, resilience, and boundless imagination. They represent the heights we can reach when we come together to push boundaries.
3. The research and planning process
The process of planning a trip may seem like a tedious task, but in the world of travel, it’s a delightful dance of excitement and anticipation. I love all the BTS of going on a trip. Deciding the destination, making a bucket list of places & experiences that personally intrigue me, figuring out the logistics, crafting the itinerary, making checklists of things to pack, and shopping for the trip, not to mention, reading Google reviews, secret tips from fellow travelers and travel blogs. Who knew planning could be as addictive as binge-watching your favourite TV show? Plus, the world of travel is the only place where ALL my plans come to fruition!
When I plan my trips I need to have a skeleton of the day. I don’t always expect things to go as planned but I feel it’s better to organize trips with a rough schedule for the day so that we don’t miss out on anything important in the short duration that we have. But I also believe that sometimes you need to travel without planning things in detail and just go with the flow! Group trips with friends allow this in the most enjoyable and practical way.
4. Traveling has made me more open-minded
The firsthand exposure to diverse perspectives has led me to reflect on my own beliefs and develop a greater appreciation for the richness of human diversity. Travel provides an opportunity to see the common humanity that underlies cultural differences. Interacting with locals and witnessing their daily lives, joys, and struggles can lead to a realization that people around the world share common aspirations, emotions, and desires, promoting empathy and reducing prejudice. So different, yet so similar.
Many prejudices are rooted in generalizations about certain groups of people. By going to different places and observing their cultures, I’ve learned to challenge these stereotypes and recognize the inherent diversity within any given community. When faced with real people who defy stereotypes, it becomes harder to hold onto prejudiced beliefs.
I’ve also come across many different stories – either in the form of historic evidence or from people I meet during my travels, which has made me realize that everyone has a story worth telling.
5. Traveling has taught me a lot about myself
Apart from learning something new about the world, every time I come back home from a trip, I learn something new about myself- not just the positives but also the negatives, and I’ll take that. It’s better to know your shortcomings than to live in your own little bubble and be ignorant of them.
Don’t know how and when it happens, maybe it’s an accumulation of all the events that happen throughout the trip. Maybe because traveling allows a lot of time for introspection. You’ll find yourself contemplating deep philosophical questions while sipping coffee as you roam in a bustling street where everyone’s busy doing their own thing. Whether it’s getting lost in a foreign city or finding solace on a solitary beach, travel strips away the layers we’ve constructed and reveals our true selves.
6. Re-evaluation of priorities
Stepping away from my daily routine and responsibilities during travel allows me to re-evaluate my personal goals, values, and priorities. I use traveling as a compass to understand what I like and what I don’t, what matters and what doesn’t. Besides, I often catch myself going into Zen mode when I travel – I’m not worried about things that I would usually be worried about. I’m aware of them but I’m simply not bothered by them. All the problems look minuscule in the vastness of the world.
Traveling has given me the chance to disconnect from my everyday life and immerse myself in new experiences.
When you’re traveling, there’s no need to worry about your to-do list or your schedule back home. Instead, you can focus on the present moment, on what’s right in front of you. You can take the time to appreciate the beauty around you, to listen to your thoughts, and to connect with yourself in a way that’s hard to do when you’re in your normal routine.
Those were some ways in which traveling makes me a better person. That said, it has not always been all pretty. There have been disappointments and misadventures. I always feel nervous the night before every trip. And every trip ends with a bittersweet feeling of heartbreak mixed with gratitude (and withdrawal symptoms for a few days). And then it becomes a special memory to cherish forever!