Why traveling the world? Because it always brings you more than the experiences of being outside of your comfort zone and perfect Instagram pictures. When you travel the world you inevitably learn priceless life lessons! Traveling is always about being in the real world, and here are 5 vital lessons that it will teach you.
After a year and a half of overseas travel, I knew coming home would be hard. I longed to see my family and friends and share with them my experiences in New Zealand, but I didn’t want to give up the lifestyle and mindset I had adopted while traveling. It was fun. I often felt carefree and on top of the world.
But home I went, armed with my determination to keep my traveling mindset alive and well. That turned out to be easier said than done. I was both happy to be home and unsure of what my life would and should look like now that I was back stateside. I felt more pressure. It felt like the fun was over.
One day, while trying to overcome my post-travel blues, I thought long and hard about what I had learned about myself from traveling. The list was long, but it all boiled down to five main things. I try to remind myself of these things whenever I feel lost. These five tenets haven’t failed me yet:
1. Being Happier With Less
Living a “normal” life by society’s standards often leads me to wanting more things — more money, more items, more time, more everything. We live in a culture of scarcity that tells us there is never enough, and it takes a conscious effort to escape it. After living out of a backpack for over a year, I realized how much happier and less burdened I felt with minimal money and possessions.
When I wasn’t spending precious mental energy thinking about all the things I wanted, I was free to simply enjoy what I had and focus instead on experiences and relationships.
I was able to save money while traveling by participating in work-trade agreements, taking public transportation, and (mostly) avoiding tourist traps and opting for more free or budget-friendly activities. This made me realize that travel doesn’t have to be this expensive and glamorous thing that only the rich and famous can do.
While of course there is still privilege attached to travel, I found that by roughing it a little and spending many nights in a tent eating instant mashed potatoes and cold baked beans from a can, I was happiest. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything and found myself freer to fully experience whatever was happening at that moment.
2. Finding a Different Connection to Food
I spent a lot of my time overseas working and volunteering on farms. One of my goals for the trip was to continue to explore and learn about local food production and farming, and it’s one of the main things I think about when I reflect on my trip.
I always want to be connected to my food in one way or another, whether I’m an organic farm manager or a backyard gardener. My relationship with food feels like an important one, not only for my health but also for my mental well-being and happiness.
“Although food cannot hold a conversation or join you in your favorite activities, what we eat affects our minds, bodies, and souls just like any human relationship would,” according to an article about the psychology of food.
Food can spark memories just like a photograph. It is for this reason, among others, that being an active participant in where my food is coming from is so important to me. My travels helped me hone this idea and realize how important it is to me.
3. Self-Care is Paramount
While traveling is good for you in many ways, it can also be very challenging. The stresses of travel can often bring out issues that need to be dealt with, whether mental, physical, or both.
Common mental health problems like anxiety and depression run rampant in our culture. After traveling, I was finally able to recognize my anxiety for what it was and collect some tools to help me deal with it.
This was a really good lesson for me to learn. I had been going through life being content with feeling okay, but traveling inspired me to take the necessary steps to take care of myself so I could experience life to its fullest. I realized that “okay” is not enough — I wanted to be my best self.
4. Nature Heals
Before traveling, I sort of knew this to be true — I find my spirituality in nature, not in a pew. However, New Zealand really drove this point home for me. There’s nothing quite like looking out over an incredibly stunning landscape to make me feel in tune with myself and everything that’s going on around me.
I believe nature has the power to heal — not just because of the importance of breathing fresh air but also because of the connection to the land and how it sustains us. It’s so easy to forget this when we live the city life, often surrounded by cement or engulfed in a stark white cubicle.
To be happy, I know I need to take solace in nature, preferably every day. That’s a huge reason why my bike commute to work and my evening walks are the pillars of my day. Without them, I don’t feel quite right.
5. Traveling is a Tool
Traveling can be a helpful tool for learning, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only tool. This is sometimes hard for me to remember. My instinct is often to keep chasing travel until all my questions are answered, but I know that it’s not the traveling itself that makes things clearer to me — it’s my mindset.
Something about traveling and being away from the normality of everyday life makes me more open and present. It’s an active choice, and one I have to remind myself of often, to try to retain this mindset when I’m home and having a “regular” day.
Travel is fun, rewarding, challenging, and demanding. It’s a complex beast. Both the positive and negative aspects have taught me a lot about myself and what I find important.
What does traveling the world teach you? Is there a common thread holding together your travel mindset and your home mindset?
photo source | pexels + giphy