Travel really is a life teacher and there are a number of reasons why taking a year off or even a few months to travel the world on a career break can actually help you in your future life. I have to admit, I am addicted to travel and everything it represents (isn’t it evident by how much we write about travel!) But as many people have said before, when you travel you will never be the same again and here is why.
This is the number one lesson travel has taught me over the years. When you living in a western lifestyle you are fortunate enough that everything is scheduled out and things run like clock-work. Well, at least most of the time. When catching a bus in Australia you get annoyed that the bus is 5 minutes late, but once you get out of your normal reality you realise that most of the world’s population don’t live like that and when you are in a foreign country you will be lucky if the bus come within 2 hours of when it was scheduled.
Patience is the one skill you very quickly learn when you travel overseas. A lot of the time when in Mexico we were told that it is “Mexico Time” …relax. Travelling has taught me to slow down and notice everything around you, rather that rushing through life and not appreciating the world. Which brings me to my next point.
Now that you have slowed down and you can see everything else around you, rather than just buzzing through life, realise you can learn to appreciate other cultures. Even though I come from Australia, which is an extremely multicultural society there is a lack of understanding or bigotry towards different cultures other than your own.
When you travel you learn to accept others for who they are and you create bonds with people outside your culture and learn to respect their beliefs and customs. Sometimes I think as a society we have very closed minds to other cultures and I believe travel enriches you to appreciate other cultures and what they stand for. Upon returning to your country I really do think the more you are accepting to everyone the more likely you are to start-up conversations with people from ethnic cultures you otherwise may not have in the past.
I Am Not the Centre Of The Universe
I find that when living back in a 9-5 world we tend to live in bubble-like existences. We have our home bubble, work bubble, family bubble and friends bubble. Now that is a lot of bubbles! But my point is we bounce from one to the next and rarely move outside of our comfort zone. We go from work to home and then we visit our group of friends and everything is extremely safe in those surroundings. When you travel you are forced to make new friends everyday and you have multiple new bubbles forming and popping all the time. You find new accommodation, new friends and new sights everyday day whilst you are on the road. This teaches you to adapt when you are travelling and you soon realise that there are many other people out in this world-well beyond your own.
When you travel you are constantly adapting to your surroundings, you have to try new things that you usually wouldn’t try. You eat food you usually wouldn’t eat and you dress in clothes you usually wouldn’t wear at home. You have to be ready for anything as sometimes things don’t go according to your schedule and you have to be able to change your plans at the drop of a hat. This is sometimes hard for people to grasp at first but before to long being able to adapt to any situation is a key skill that you learn when you travel. When you return home you will realise people around find it hard to adapt to change and you over your period of being overseas has taught you differently. You will learn to welcome change and embrace it as a part of your new life.
There is something about travel that pulls on the strings with everyone that tells them to do things that usually wouldn’t do. Whether it is because you don’t have people around that will judge you or you feel free when you travel, but most people are much more spontaneous when travelling. You make quick decision that will affect the outcome of your travels and you find yourself in situations you would never dream about putting yourself in when you are back in your home country.
Hopefully when you return home you bring a little spontaneity into your life by shaking up your life every now and again. This can impact your relationships and your mental well-being at home. It makes your life much more exciting if you don’t know what is going to come next. It might be as little as taking a new route to work or surprising your partner with dinner by the lake. Life can at time get monotonous and all you need to do is think about when you were travelling and bring that travel mind-set back into your everyday lives.
Try Anything Once
When you travel you tend to not hold back and you are willing to give anything a go. You tell yourself that you may not be in this situation again so you better try it. Whether you are trying a new food or doing an activity like skydiving, it is important to always give it a go. Don’t be the one who wishes you did it years later. Be the one that gave everything a try. My motto is if I don’t try something I will never know what it is like. Be a risk taker, but within reason and live life to the fullest. The movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carey should be a good starting point, and I know this movie is a little over the top and it is impossible to always say “yes”, but give it a go with things you would usually say no to. You will be amazed at how many more adventures you will see yourself on by simply saying yes more than no. Give it a go and try it at least once.
When you travel to far off places in the world you realise how accepting others are of you. We have been invited into strangers house countless times to share a cup of tea or just to chat for the only reason that these families were being kind and accepting of us. Sure there are times that they are simply curious, but travel teaches you that you should accept everyone as equals and we are all human. Love is the key in acceptance and we have been perplexed at times by the acceptance of us into homes and communities.
We now try to show that same acceptance in our lives today. We believe that if you help the people around you, one day you will be helped back by someone else. Always be accepting to all people and they in turn will accept you too. I know this isn’t the perfect world, but travel does teach you to have more compassion for your fellow humans.
Travelling always opens your eyes to how the rest of the world lives. You soon realise that most of the worlds population is living in poverty with no assistance from anybody. They are barely getting by and will do anything to help their family survive. We have seen devastating poverty in India and Cambodia and it is hard not to be compassionate towards these people in need. Travel will teach you to be compassionate whether you like it or not. You will learn things about yourself that you never thought existed in your personality.
Your compassion can continue to run through your everyday life and you can show others how to help those who are less fortunate than yourself. This may be as simple as helping out in your local community or donating to a specific cause you feel strongly about. The times you spent overseas will change the way you think about others and you will be compelled to do something rather than nothing.
Travel is definitely life changing and with the world getting smaller through new media, we may find that many people choose not to travel as you can see everything need from the comfort of your own home. I would stress that although we contribute to this through our website, travel will enrich your life in ways you never thought possible and travel is the best life teacher there is.
What has travel taught you? Let me know in the comments below.