To travel is to journey through new territory, physically, mentally and emotionally. I learnt about the positive power of travel a few years back, when I felt emotionally heavy and unsatisfied with life. I decided it was time to pack my bags and head off to a place – any place, that would give me the chance to reconnect with myself and start afresh.
I needed the space and time to listen to that small voice within – the voice I believe was getting quieter as time went on, due to the many distractions and the ‘noise’, which had become my life.
I wanted to break free – see and learn new things, see new faces, hear fresh opinions and do all the things I wanted to do.
I wanted to feel things I wanted to feel – and just be.
I don’t believe I was completely depressed, but I believe I was heading that way. Life had become mundane; I was unhappy with my relationships and friendships, my job, my life, myself. I felt lost – and was not confident that I’d find my way back to a path I was proud of.
There I was, sitting on the plane that had just taken off. I remember feeling butterflies and excitement, and for once, was not afraid of the unknown. I had faith that all that awaited me on the other side, was positive. As the plane ascended and the world below became smaller, I felt like I had left all the negative thoughts, troubles and stresses on the ground.
I was still the same unsatisfied soul, but I had made the choice, then and there, to leave the ‘heaviness’ behind. Looking out of that window helped me to visualize it and helped me to open my heart to the new adventures and lessons that awaited me.
Now, whenever I feel like my problems are big and scary, I go back to that moment and remind myself that we are so small in the grand scheme of things – and that I should make a choice to leave my stresses ‘on the ground’. This was the first lesson I learnt on my journey: make a choice, to make a change.
Other than the utter bliss I felt while meandering through the city streets – where I had the freedom to explore, try, do, see, taste and smell all that was new, the experience gave me the space to form a relationship with myself again. It was like going on a date, every day, with myself – as strange as that sounds.
I could do what I liked, eat what I liked, think what I liked, see and feel what I liked. It was liberating.
I got the time to reflect, and the time to ask myself tough questions, which I had been putting off for years.
I got to reevaluate my life without being distracted, and I started to become more appreciative and grateful for what I did have, instead of giving my attention to what I didn’t. Gratitude became my number one source of happiness.
I realized that travelling can change you for the better – and it is a type of therapy. Here are the lessons I learnt about travelling, and inevitably, myself, too:
Travelling Gives You Perspective
Travelling allows you to really see that the world is big, and that you are really quite small. And – possibly the biggest realization – your problems could be a lot worse. You don’t even need to travel halfway across the world to identify this. Life reminds us of this all the time, we’re just so caught up in our own dilemma’s that we fail to have perspective on things. What it allows, too, is space to sift through all that has accumulated in our minds.
The fact that you’re far away from your home somehow allows you to see the full picture from the outside, looking in. Rather than being amongst the chaos, and trying to figure it all out.
Travelling Forces you to Rely on Yourself
Trotting about on foreign soil, with little clue of where to go, how to get there – and sometimes unable to speak the language, forces you to truly rely on yourself.
Yes, you can ask for help, but in reality, you’re on your own, and you have to trust your own judgements and learn as you go along. This teaches you so much about yourself. Simply finding your way after you were sure you would get lost makes you feel good, weirdly enough. And getting out of a situation you thought would be a lot trickier, is refreshing and it gives you self-validation – that you can count on you, and that you are capable.
Travelling Relieves Stress
Travelling, without a doubt, relieves stress. And this rings even more true when you go on a trip in nature. For example, if you go on a safari, you are doing and seeing things you’ve never experienced, or seen before. Your mind is so preoccupied with the new and exciting sights and sounds, that there’s no time to harp on the bad – only to relish in the good – the beauty and the peace.
If you’re visiting a bustling city, your focus is on all that’s around you – the smells, the people, the energy. There is no time to be in your own head – which, of course, relieves stress.
I believe stress is formed from thinking too hard – or should I say, overthinking – spending too much time in our own minds and not enough time appreciating what is around us.
Travelling Gives You Space to Reflect
Reflection is key, and we never seem to find time for it. Travelling gives you the space and time to reflect. Reflection allows us to get to the bottom of what is troubling us, but it also allows us to identify that which makes us happy, and that which we are grateful for. It’s vital for us to look within, ask ourselves questions and think of the solutions, instead of the problems.
Travelling Makes You Identify all that You’re Grateful for
When you travel, you will miss certain things about your life – whether it be certain people, the ease of transport, the beauty of your city – whatever the case may be. Feeling this is not a bad thing – it helps us to identify what we are grateful for, and what we take for granted. And, even when you’ve had the greatest vacation of your life; there’s still no place like home. You realise this after being away – and it opens your eyes.
Being grateful also has a lot to do with reflection. To identify what you are grateful for, you need to reflect on all the experiences, people, feelings and things that you are happy to have in your life. Gratitude is essential – without showing gratitude, and without identifying our blessings, we are always going to think we don’t have enough.
It’s quite clear to see that spreading your wings, leaving your comfort zone and embarking on an adventure that is filled with life-changing lessons and soul-stirring experiences is good for the mind, body and soul. I firmly believe that only positive things come from travelling – so do yourself a favour and take the leap, you will be forever grateful that you did!
My name is Hayden Myers, travel enthusiast and aspiring writer. I’m a born South African with the dream and goal to travel the world and share my adventures. The travel bug began at the age of 10 when I went on my first overseas trip with my family, these trips continued over the years until I took the jump and began travelling alone. Always diarising my travels, it has grown into a passion to give advice to fellow travellers in need of tips, ideas and inspiration. Now as a mother I can give my child the same travel adventures that my parents gave me.