Why do you travel? Is it to seek the thrill of being in a new place, or to escape the stress and monotony of a routine you have back home? Do you leave in search of new friends, culinary delights, or just to step out of your comfort zone?
To travel is a luxury, no doubt. I don’t just mean in the monetary sense. Sure, it costs to explore a new place, but for me the biggest luxury of all is the opportunity to learn and grow from an experience. Often I forget that my reality is very specific to what I have seen and learnt in my life so far. Fine tuning that lens through which we view the world often comes from looking outside of the bubble we live in, by seeing a different way of life, walking in someone else’s shoes for a day.
Whilst we often focus on the destination itself, the seed of our journey is planted much earlier with an idea, as we anticipate the adventure we’re about to embark on. For me this is all about dreaming about my travel itinerary, scouring the internet for information on an unknown destination. Deciding what to take with me, how to best enjoy my time abroad and how to preserve my memories without distracting from the actual experience.
Then of course comes the physical journey. Being completely lost in the chaos of an unfamiliar city, or pausing to lie in a field of flowers and appreciate how truly insignificant and fleeting most moments are. Reaching out to people in broken English and wrapping your head around new ideas or challenging your own values.
But it’s when we take all this information back home with us, sit on it, process it, reflect on it, that we truly bloom. The sense of growth I get is mostly one of perspective, and often through the conversations I have with people who lead very different lives to mine. Sometimes the conversations are difficult and unsettling. Sometimes I’m in awe at how two humans can have views and values that are so far apart from each other. I catch myself thinking – if I was born in a different place, to a different family – who would I be? What would I value? Would I be happy…? It’s a humbling experience, when you realise how objective your view of the world is.
Isn’t that why we travel?