What travel does for you.
Let’s take a moment and give an honest answer to the following questions. What exactly does travel do for you? Is there a difference between a traveller and a tourist? Why do we travel? How do we travel today? Should we be more conscious about our travel decisions? Why?
Why do we travel?
Do you ever ask yourself why you travel? I don’t think we are aware of our reason behind the decision to travel most of the time.
Do we travel because we are driven by a massive FOMO when we scroll through our social media feeds? Because we wanna thick as many boxes on our bucket list. Do we travel in order to have things to show off with when we meet our friends? Even if you don’t do it on purpose, your inner ego is grinning. The answer is an uncomfortable yes.
But are these really the things that should motivate us to travel? Let’s have a look at travel from a different perspective. Travel can be a tool.
Travel is a fantastic self-development tool, because it extricates you from the values of your culture and 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.The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck. MARK MANSON.
Sounds like oh, so big words, but really before dismissing it take a moment to change your point of view regarding travel. What’s your take on it? Ah, and in case you don’t know who this dude is I highly recommend you check his blog and his books. Don’t be fooled by his obnoxious titles, his work has a lot of substance. They caused some profound changes in me. I can honestly say that his second book has a big contribution in me deciding to start this project. Thanks Mark. You inspired me to “do something“. It worked.
What travelling did for me.
If you would’ve asked me 6 years ago why I wanna travel, I would’ve answered with the biggest cliche. “I want to travel because I want to find myself.” Well, 6 years later I look at my old self and say: “You fool, travelling helped you do exactly the opposite. You lost yourself.”
The biggest benefit from travelling is exactly that, you lose yourself. Your system of beliefs and, most important, your prejudices are the first aspects to be challenged. You start to doubt that the filter through which you’re seeing and judging the world are good.
After that got a good shake you come to realise that the differences between you and others are not as big as you thought. That, for example, my childhood spent in Romania was not so different from my current flatmate’s one spent in a suburb of Bombay. This increases your levels of humbleness and understanding.
When you dive deeper and attempt to understand the intricacies of culture and how exactly that shapes a human, your levels of accepting and tolerance enhance. Travel helps you break myths about stereotypes you had about certain places.
When a tourist becomes a traveller.
When you stop travelling for others and start travelling for you, that is when you become a traveler. And don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a tourist. But I believe that being a traveler is way more rewarding.
If you choose to have a conversation with a local and ask him how life is in his country, chances are you would learn much more about the place than by chasing a list of churches and museums or by following a tour guide and not listening to half the things he is saying.
When we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations is when we learn. Cause let’s be honest not all of us are naturals when it comes to striking a conversation with a stranger. The traveller learns while the tourist just observes.
How do we travel today?
Fast. That is the adjective that describes most of our actions nowadays. Travel included. We want to do a lot, or everything, in the shortest amount of time. And then move on to the next project, the next trip, the next item on the bucket list without even taking a moment to consciously take in what we’ve experienced.
Don’t tell me you’re not doing it? I don’t believe you. Our society’s obsession for more brought us to a point where we value the quantity of our travel versus the quality of it. We need to wake up. And take a look at how we travel from a different angle. And this brings us to our next point.
Should we be more conscious about how we do it?
It goes without saying that the answer is yes. Starting with the accommodation you are gonna take, going to where you choose to dine and ending with where you are going to buy a memento of your trip, it all matters. I bet you rarely thought of it from this aspect. Because we are all viewing it from our end, but travelling doesn’t involve only you, no!
The way you choose to spend your finances impacts so many people. I am not saying that being a conscious traveller is easy, hell no! It is more comfortable to head over to the web, click a few times and not think about where your money is going, but only about yourself and what a good time you will have. We all do it! I have done it most of my life. But what if we would put a bit more effort into planning our trips with more awareness? Thinking about the other part as well.
There is no magic recipe for it, no online planner that will guarantee your purchase is a conscious one, but if you do put in the effort of thinking about it, well, the change in the way you look at travel will begin.
The way I experimented doing it in the last years was by recommendation. Best case scenario is of course if you know a local, they will provide you with the most accurate information and help you dodge all the tourist traps.
My flight attendant job gave me the opportunity to get connected with people from all continents, this makes my travel decisions a hell lot easier. It’s probably the aspect I’m most grateful for, not to say that you need to become a flight attendat in order to gain friendships that will help you plan your trips in a more conscious way.
With the increased connectivity that social media offers us and the popularity of travel in the past decade it is close to impossible to not have a friend who traveled to that particular destination you want to visit. And if that’s not the case your friends might have other friends that travelled and could provide you with real information.
Then there are the travel blogs, like this one that you are just reading, but beware of the tendency of a lot of people to romanticize their advertorials. The challenge today is not to find information but to filter it. Don’t base your decision to travel on your Instagram feed! That is guaranteed to create some seriously unrealistic expectations and cause a massive sense of disappointment during your trip.
So, what does travel do for you?
Travel, when done with awareness, will make you a more tolerant and humble person.
It will increase your understanding about the world and will shatter myths and stereotypes you had about certain places and people.
When you travel consciously you can make a difference by choosing how to spend your money.
Travel makes you a healthier, more creative and more mindful individual.
Travel will ignite change in you.
Are you willing to look at travel from a different perspective?