Imagine you’re sitting amongst a group of friends, sharing a cold beer or two and talking about life. Suddenly one of them has a story to recite – what are the chances that said the story is about a travel experience? I’d say the chances are pretty good. When you travel, you have more to talk about. You never have to worry about running out of things to talk about because you always have a journey no one’s heard about up your sleeve. People speak with utmost passion about their travels because there’s so much they’ve taken from them. With each trip, their outlook towards changes for the better – unless you got mugged or lost your passport on your journey.
And honestly, even the most terrible occurrences can sometimes be our most significant teachable moments. My psychology teacher always used to say, “Close your eyes and imagine one of the worst experiences of your life.” Then after a pause, looking at our disgruntled faces, she said, “wasn’t it also the best experience of your life?” I didn’t understand it on a cold winter morning sitting in a classroom, but 4 years later today – I think I do. It becomes the best experience of your life because of the things you take home from it – what you learn from it, the survival instincts you develop and how they help you grow as an individual. It’s for you to understand the vision in the face of adversity.
Quoting Yogi Raman from the book ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari’ – “There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. There is no such thing as a negative experience, only opportunities to grow, learn and advance along the road of self-mastery. From struggle comes strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher.” When it comes to academic knowledge, there’s no better place to learn than in school; it’s meant for that. But when it comes to life, there is quite literally no better teacher than travelling. Be it the people you encounter, the cultural shift you experience or the heavenly local food – everyone and every place have a story to tell if you’re willing to listen. Haha – maybe that’s why schools take you on all those trips during Christmas!
Travelling forces you out of your comfort zone. You leave your little nest and go out in the world to see what it has to offer. Sometimes, all you need is a gentle push to discover who you truly are. And even if you don’t, at least you had a good trip. Meeting new people is the best part about travelling – they motivate you to do all sorts of things, and you think they’re achievable because you’re listening to them first-hand. They also push you to try new things, which is a good thing because let’s face it – we’re all tired of having the same old pizza from a game and a hut (if you know what I mean) every Friday night.
Please allow your taste buds to take a leap of faith when you’re outside your own city/country. The place you’re visiting has people who know what they’re doing – they won’t feed you anything that’s not good when they watch your face shout ‘TOURIST’. Travelling teaches you time management like no other office seminar or timetable can – don’t believe me? Try missing a flight and then watch your pocket burn a big hole. Time won’t stop for you; it hasn’t stopped for anyone (except Doctor Strange, lol) – so make the best of it while you can, or you’ll find yourself stuck in an endless loop of “I have very little time, and yet so much to do.”
Ditch the popular spots when travelling. Visit the local flea market, and stroll on one of the few known promenades. Ask questions – in life and when you’re travelling – the more questions you ask about what to experience and where to experience things to the people who’ve been living there for years, you might just find yourself on a uniquely fantastic adventure. Sure, go to the tourist spots and take a picture for the gram that’ll garner a few hundred likes and comments from your best friends, but don’t do just that. I can’t emphasize this enough – Explore! Go to your tourist attractions at a time when no one’s there – visit the Eiffel tower at 6 or 7 in the morning and absorb what it has to offer. Take the longer route or the road not taken – stop to smell a flower, interact with a stranger and learn about their life, eat a speciality that looks peculiarly unappealing and do every odd thing you can think of doing because those moments aren’t coming back.
When you have been pigeonholed all your life to fit in a box and tick all the boxes according to societal norms, travel is your escape. It gives you a clean and fresh start to be the person you choose to be. Go make a fool of yourself – dance on the streets, make a snow angel and eat without worrying about sauces rolling down your hands. Give yourself the vacation you deserve – unrestrained, void of norms and replayable. They say, “Live each day as if it were your last because tomorrow may never come.” Now they don’t mean to scare you; it’s just that when you live your life to the fullest each day, you become utterly grateful the next. You realize that you’ve been given the gift of being alive for another day, and it is your job to make it count. Let’s see if you’re worth your salt.
Last but not least, travelling teaches you gratitude. You come back home craving a warm plate of food served by your mother because of all the noodles, pizzas and pastas you’ve had. It instils a sense of respect and regard for the things you already possess and how much you might have neglected them. You become more objective and appreciative of your homeland and surroundings. To me, travelling is like reading a book – you get exposed to new ideas that provide valuable learning experiences. You transport yourself into an alternate world and confront whatever is offered to you, no questions asked. How you apply these learnings in your life is entirely up to you, but they’ll stay with you for the rest of your life; because reading can tell you that sugar is sweet, travelling lets you taste it.