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Updated: April 2021
Transformative travel is the way we learn, expand, grow and stretch our awareness when we leave the 4 walls of our comfort zone (our countries, cities, societies) and when we find ourselves in a different corner of the world.
A personal note on transformative travel
When I think of travel, I think back to the time when going to a different country for the weekend was a 2 hour away possibility. I think about all of the things I learned, from the planning of a trip to the end. All of the experiences researching places to go, looking for the best way to get there, passing through many airports, figuring out public transportation system maps, wandering around a city, getting lost, and so much more. But what about it? What can I conclude from all of those moments? How have they shaped me? How has travel been able to challenge me and center me? In many ways.
In today’s post, I want to give a personal example of how travel has been influential and transformative in my perspective and in my life. I share this because it is my hope that reading my own transformative travel story, serves you as a mirror to reflect and use as a guide to look back on a previous travel experience you had. Furthermore, seeing how I describe personal realizations can help you realize and validate some of those realizations and moments of personal truth that you experienced, that perhaps you don’t feel you’ve been able to express enough. Whatever you get out of this, is what you’re meant to get out of this, and whatever that is, it’s valid.
Here’s my influential and transformative travel story in short bullet points.
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Every place I have visited has given me a significant thing to take away – and it’s more than materialistic
The time I may have gotten lost in Madrid, but then got excited because one day I got back to my Airbnb based on my memory, or the other time when I successfully asked a local in Athens for directions and they were really nice and helpful. Every place I will go to, I will create a memory, and the significance of it will be something that will always bring a smile to my face, and warmth to my heart. It’s intangible, but so important and most importantly, something that no one will ever be able to take away from me. The memories, the people I met, and the places and perceptions I got while I traveled, are the ones that have challenged and shaped me – they will never fade away.
It’s not about the materialistic things, it’s about the experience that makes life truly amazing
I think it must be the light packing, the act of literally putting my most significant items into a bag/suitcase, and taking them to live my life in a different part of the world, even for a few days, that makes me realize how I can live with much less. Living with the essentials only, I realize that I feel a lot freer, my thinking becomes clear (fewer things to think about), and my space becomes bigger. I realize a lot more things about myself as if the absence of clutter finally allowed me to see a lot of the things I didn’t before. Now, accompanying this realization while I was traveling, and as I was constantly being exposed to different scenery, buildings, people, languages, and forms of life…amazing things started to happen. I gained an understanding of how others lived life, as well as a deeper appreciation for life and a clearer thought process.
Learning to be self resilient
When I traveled, even if in a group of friends (but especially solo), I learned how to maneuver around a new city all on my own. I learned how to figure out street signs, remember my way, way back to my Airbnb or hostel, and I had no other option than to break out of my comfort zone and talk to others for information, amongst many other things. Pretty soon, I began to understand the public transportation system, travel hacks, and how to save money on my travels, and more – I began to accumulate real-world skills that would be sure to come in handy not just as a traveler going from one place to another, but being at home as well.
Getting lost – it’s the way to find my way
As scary and as much as my family may have warned me to avoid this, it’s unavoidable. It’s also the best way to get to know a city. When I lived in Madrid, one of my favorite ways to get to know the city was looking at the metro map, and figuring out the different names of the barrios (neighborhoods) and what to find there. I would literally just hop on the metro (any line, any direction) and then get off at a stop that I remembered reading something interesting about. I would walk out of the metro station, walk around the barrio, and to my amazement, I’d find the shops I had read about and also, I’d find other things. Pretty, soon, I started to know my way around this beautiful city, the metro stops, and the barrio names, and where to go to find ‘x’. It’s truly a fun, and personally empowering way to get to know any new surroundings. The only last addition I would give is to do your research ahead of time so you know generally speaking what you may find.
What are your thoughts on transformative travel?
How has travel influenced you? Have you been able to see things differently when you travel vs. when you’re home? What have been some of your biggest lessons learned abroad?
I’d love to know! As always, leave a comment letting me know this, or if you can relate to some of the things I mentioned in this post.
To more travel moments like these,