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Have you ever wondered if where you’re at is all there is? Most of us have at some point. We’ve all gazed out of our office windows at the same view we’ve been looking at for x number of years, and we think ‘really, is this it?’
It’s not it!
It’s far from it!
If you’re feeling this way currently, rest assured that there is nothing wrong with you, you’re not going through a mid-life crisis, and you’re not going crazy. You are simply searching for something different, eager to try new things, and experience new situa-tions. This is a normal part of life, and something which you should embrace and run with. One of the single best ways to explore that feeling of itchy feet, restlessness if you will, is to travel.
Now, before you panic, solo travel is not something to worry about, but if you prefer to travel with likeminded people, you have options; you can either enlist a close friend to travel with you, or you can check out travel groups online. You’ll find many companies who cater for single travellers wanting to meet likeminded travel buddies.
If you’re not sure if this is all a little ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ for you, let me try and persuade you that travel is the number one course of action for you to take at this point in your life. I’m going to talk about ten ways that travel can change your life. Why should you trust what I’m saying? Because every single one of these points I’m about to talk about, rang very true for me.
I’m in no way suggesting that you’re a closed-minded person at the moment, but until you’ve travelled and experienced everything that seeing new places and meeting new people has to offer at you, unfortunately, you are more closed minded than you realise.
Travel will take you into situations that you’ve never experienced before, and you’ll meet people living a totally different life to you. You might have a preconceived idea of those people and their way of life, but when you’re thrown right into the middle of it yourself, and you see it first hand, you start to change your opinion of it. It’s a wonderful thing, and it’s something that we should all experience. It is for this very reason that travelling with children is such a great idea, because it helps to breed open-minded tolerant children, free of pre-conceived ideas and notions that they might have developed otherwise.
For instance, I was terrified of travelling to the Middle East. I was scared because of every-thing I had read. I went anyway. I found Turkey to be totally different to what I expected, I realised that the UAE are not as oppressive as I thought, and I met some of the most help-ful, wonderful, and positive people in the world. Put simply, travel makes you much more open-minded and tolerant of differences, and that is something we need more of in the world.
I was shy before I began travelling, but being somewhere new, with different people com-ing into your life every single day really does push the shyness out of you, and forces you to talk to people you’d never have otherwise even come into contact with. Travel al-lows you to meet people from all walks of life, even if you simply head off on a beach va-cation! You’ll speak to people from other countries, other cultures, other religions, and other continents, and you’ll make new friends along the way.
Some of them you’ll never speak to again, some of them you’ll chat with occasionally on Facebook, perhaps with the help of Google Translate, and maybe one of them will end up being the love of your life. How do you know if you don’t try? I met mine whilst travelling in Turkey, and I’m still here!
When we’re caught in our own little bubble at home, we don’t realise that there are peo-ple out there living vastly different lives to our own, with very different cultures and cus-toms. It’s fascinating to learn about, and when you’re in the middle of it, seeing it all with your own two eyes, it’s a truly immersive experience that you’ll be completely over-awed by.
Even the small things, like sitting on the floor to eat on a blanket as a family, taking your shoes off before going into a home, bowing to new people you meet, gestures that you should and shouldn’t make. You’ll learn all about these in the heat of the moment; you’ll make mistakes, you’ll laugh, and you’ll learn from it, but it all taught you something!
Depending up on where you travel to, depends upon whether you see real poverty and hardships or not, but they are certainly out there. If you do happen to see any amount of poverty, it will be a truly humbling experience, and something which will make you realise that your life back home really is quite something. You will appreciate the small things in life so much more after you have travelled and seen hardships up close and personal. You will realise that your complaints about not wanting a certain dish for dinner are totally ridiculous, next to someone who doesn’t have anything at all for dinner. Travel is the number one antidote to the western overload of riches, whether we realise we’re rich or not.
With all of this, you will become kinder, more caring, more sympathetic, and you may even decide you want to work with various charities when you return home. Many travel-lers have done this, and it is a great way of doing your bit, in thanks for the life-changing experience you received.
Most people are terrified of change, but when you’re completely immersed in new sur-roundings, no matter how long for, it all has a strange way of making you question your current situation. Do you want to live where you live? Have you ever thought about mov-ing overseas, even for just a short while? Do you like your job? Do you want to do some-thing totally different? Travel will make you question everything in your life, and as a re-sult, if you’re brave enough, you could find yourself making the leap in the not too distant future.
To give you an example, travel made me take the big jump into the world of freelance writ-ing, something I always wanted to try but never thought I was good enough. I wanted to travel the world but how could I do that when I had a full time office job? For some reason, travel gave me the confidence to carve out a freelance career, and when the time was right, quit my full time job and head off into the sunset. It might not be that dramatic for you, but perhaps travel could give you that push you need to change your job, or move house.
Working hand in hand with our last point, travel really will make you a more confident person overall. There is something about having to find your way in a foreign country, where you speak very little of the language, if any at all, which brings out the fighter in you. You’ll suddenly realise that the only way through a tough situation is to face it head on, and that confidence will stay with you as it grows. Perhaps you’ll find yourself sat in your hotel one morning, and you really want to go to that temple you saw in a travel bro-chure, but you’re alone, how can you go? You take the tentative step out of the hotel door, that’s what, and before you know it, you’re standing in front of that breathtaking temple, totally in awe of not only what you’re seeing, but the bravery and confidence you showed.
When you’re regularly seeing sights that blow your mind, new ways of life that you never even thought existed, and you’re meeting people from all walks of life on a daily basis, you’ll start to realise that Walt Disney was right – anything is possible, if you just try.
Perhaps it’s the romance of the sights you’re seeing, the fact that if you hadn’t taken that step to go travelling, you’d never be sat looking at that amazing sunset, you’d never be swimming in crystal clear water with brightly coloured fish all around you, and you’d nev-er have gazed upon the Taj Mahal, or another famous Wonder of the World. Whatever it is that causes this sudden realisation that we can do anything we put our minds to, it’s mag-ical.
Obviously, if you didn’t travel, you’d never have seen these places up close and person-al. The thing is, when you’re reading about places on the Internet or in travel brochures, you’ll only see the famous places, but when you’re there in person, you get to walk around, explore the streets for yourself, and you’ll find hidden gems that amaze you. It’s for this very reason that I love Istanbul even to this day. I read about all the major sights, and I loved seeing them in person, but when I walked the streets for myself, I found small tea houses which showed me the real culture of the city, I visited book shops and I stum-bled upon small museums which taught me more than any of the big sights ever could.
If there is a sight you have always wanted to see, book your trip and go and see it. Once you’re there, explore a little further; you might just find another favourite sight somewhere you hadn’t expected it.
Whilst you might never end up being fluent in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, or whatever language they speak where you’re travelling, you will no doubt pick up a few words and phrases, and that could lead you to learn the language in more depth in the future. At the same time, being in the middle of a place is the number one way to learn, because a totally immersive learning experience will always help you pick up the basics much quicker than learning on the Internet or via a book.
No matter where you go in the world, locals love the fact that tourists are trying to learn their language, and will do their best to help you – all you need to do is ask! Of course, by learning a new language, this could serve you very well in the future, perhaps in a future career. If nothing else, it looks great on your resume!
Yes, we’re getting into Eat, Pray, Love territory here, but travel is the number one way to destress, centre yourself and find who you really are. It is only when you are out of your comfort zone that you will realise how strong you really are, and from that you’ll learn so much about yourself. By putting yourself in situations which would have otherwise terri-fied you, you’ll come to learn that you can face anything head on. Travel, seeing the world first hand, and opening your eyes to the wonder of our planet, is the best medicine in the world for stress. How can you worry about your to do list when you’re about to dive on the Great Barrier Reef?!
These are ten ways which travel is going to surely change your life, and there are far more besides! If travel could be prescribed as a medicine, it would without a doubt be one of the most successful and most wanted on the planet.
Now, with all this in mind, where are you going to go first?
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