Travel changes you. Not in the ‘I’m a changed person’, bright shining light kind of way, but subtly. It’s not a dramatic shift, but rather a slow, natural awakening. And it happens every time you add a stamp to your passport.
There’s this quote:
I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.
I’ve learned that travel is really a state of mind. That it’s less about what we do and more about who we are. 10 years of travelling has brought me to this perspective. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.
Travelling changes your mindset, your values, everything. Experiencing other cultures, meeting new people and exploring unfamiliar places undoubtedly shapes your worldview. Now, I’m not talking about the cocktails and sunsets trips. These journeys bring about a sense of culture shock and self-reflection.
You start to see things differently. I like to think of it as taking off a pair of glasses. Your entire life, you’ve looked at the world through a lens – and now you can see clearly, with your own vision.
I recently spent a month in India. When I told people about my plans to visit, I had two types of answers:
- “That’s amazing. I’d love to go to India”; or
- “Why would you want to go there? It’s too extreme.”
And to be honest, I probably hovered between these two thoughts. But not after spending time there. Now? When my mind wanders to India, I don’t think of poverty, danger or inequity. I picture the gorgeous family where we stayed in their guesthouse. Family and loyalty is everything to them. They support each other, above everything. I think of those friendly ‘hellos’ and ‘can I take your picture, please?’
I remember this one lady. I saw her on the side of the road while on a bus. Her intricate saree caught my eye – jewels sparkling in the late afternoon sun. Two bags perched on her head, she walked so eloquently. I giggled to myself at the irony. She saw me and mistakes this as a smile to her. Her toothless grin beamed back at me. And I thought to myself, maybe she’s the lucky one. This moment, and many others like this, has taught me never to assume.
The only difference between this lady and me is that she’s born in another country. We’re all the same, and oceans and miles are the only distinction between us. There’s no better or worse. We all want the same things: to be happy, healthy, and loved.
There’s beauty in realising you are only a small dot in the world. You get out of ‘your’ world, your bubble, and petty dramas.
Let’s go back to the start – 10 years ago
When I think about the first time I boarded a plane, I was an entirely different person. I thought having a career that’s ‘secure’ and socially acceptable was more important that following my inner creative. Having possessions automatically showed the world I had more ‘money.’ I didn’t really give two thoughts to the world outside of my own city.
Travel has had more of an impact on my life that I even realised. My worldview has changed. I own my decisions and I have learned I can change anything in my life. I’m courageous, empathetic and open-minded.
You learn that the most important currency is human connection, not money. You realise this because you see some of the happiest people have nothing.
You start to look at life from different viewpoints. You question things. You find home in many places, in people too. You find meaningful relationships, and more importantly, you can tell the difference between ones that are and aren’t. You don’t get tied up in the little things. You let go.
Travel looks different for everyone. Let it take you where it inevitably will.