How travel has transformed me…….
So, it’s been a while…I must say that I lost a bit of my blogging juju so to speak when we hit London 4 months ago. We were visiting family and friends and to be honest I hit a little bit of a slump in turns of pro activity. I went a bit into holiday mode and haven’t left it since. I think the art of relaxation hit me in Greece and I’ve finally started to kick back, read books and watch T.V. I think this could be my future profession……now if only I could make money whilst watching “Keeping Up with The Kardashians” ….
So, we’re in Bali, Indonesia currently and are staying at this amazing resort called Sahaja Sawa. It’s beautiful with our very own spacious apartment, communal pool, play area and 360-degree nature surrounds. The only thing is we are two hours away from the main city and this equals time for blogging and catch up. I wasn’t sure what to blog about as we have visited so many cities and had so many experiences in the past four months. I couldn’t possibly write one blog on all of it. Then I started to think how travel has really impacted me this year and came up with a lovely thought about writing a blog on how I think travel has transformed me….
The word transformation itself reminds me of a Kayla Itsiness BBG picture on Instagram but no, for those that are reading this blog unfortunately you will not be seeing a before and after picture of my body (sorry to disappoint those who were getting excited). The kind of transformation I am referring to is the internal kind. I have never thought of myself as a bad person but for most of life, we are so consumed by work, studies, kids, marriage, money and just life in general that it got me to thinking – “When do we have time to just sit back and reflect on things?” Things like maybe I’d like to start a new hobby or even things like self-improvement. My self-improvement strategy back home last year in my home city of Cape Town was pretty much – after a long day of work – A glass of wine. This was pretty much my self-improvement strategy for all my problems. And yes, it would work for a couple of hours but the next day all those internal struggles would still be there.
So, I didn’t by any means have any preconceived notions that this year of travel was going to revolutionize the ‘old Lauren’ but as I was telling a friend again recently that I was still hoping to find my “Eat Pray Love” moment (Don’t you just love that movie with Julia Roberts). I was putting a lot of pressure on myself in the beginning of our year of travel to find the thing that was going to change me and make me a better person. The funny thing however is that now upon reflection – that the more I looked for something the more I was NOT finding it (such is with things in life). Of course, on the travelling perspective side I was having the most amazing time and really reconnecting with my husband and son but on the transformational side I still felt like the same person with the same crazy OCD habits. It was a little bit frustrating until the day I stopped trying (can’t remember the exact time and place) and just let nature take its course……
A few months later and here I am sitting in Bali realising just how far I’ve come this year. I feel different. I am more relaxed, I worry less and there was no aha! Moment. It was just fluid, the people, places, cultures and languages I have encountered have given me true introspection. I would like to share with you now how I think travel has transformed me:
Travel is freedom
Travel has really changed the way I feel in terms of living life. I no longer have to be anywhere at any given time. This has given my life total freedom and I am no longer a clock watcher. I have a lot more time now for my son and husband. We have honestly reconnected as a family unit and that means the world to me. Back home last year I feel like I hardly saw my 3-year-old son, Aiden between work, school, studies and hectic schedules. This year we wake up together, eat breakfast together, hang out in general and do it all again tomorrow. It’s awesome!
Travel is empowering
Before this year I would leave all travel plans up to Peter. This year we have jointly decided on places to go, cities to visit and accommodations and daily activities. I also take “me” days where I walk or run on my own. This time away gives me what I need to also recharge my tank and I can say that there is no better feeling than walking around in a foreign country trying to chat to the locals or just merely soak in the sights and the beauty of it all. It is indeed empowering. I also feel now like I could totally travel on my own one day if I wanted to. I know airports inside out and VISA applications in all these different countries. It is definitely possible. Most people think of all the reasons why they can’t travel and last year I could relate to that but after this year I can say with certainty that it is not as scary as you think it is.
Travel brings new connections
At the beginning of the year, I thought we would be making friends in every city and by the end of the year we would have a complete portfolio of worldly connections. This wasn’t the actual case. For example, our three-month stint in South America, English was not as common as we had thought, and we encountered a lot of language barriers. I did pick up a bit of Spanish which was cool, but I couldn’t speak more than a few words to the locals. They were very friendly though. As we hit our Disney cruise and North America and some English territory however we made some lovely connections with people and families and are already planning some reunions in 2019. Currently in Bali we have met two lovely families, one from Kazakhstan and the other from Russia and have forged lovely friendships which I hope to foster in the coming years. We have already spoken of future travel plans to each other’s cities.
You realise we are all human beings
Before embarking on this year of travel I thought a lot about the types of people we were going to encounter and what they would be like…. We as people tend to have stereotypes of certain countries and cultures. These might come from watching news, reading the newspaper and even social media. Some of these stereotypes could even be negative. What I can tell you is that as I have travelled these stereotypes have disappeared as I have been exposed to new cultures and people. Any sort of thoughts I had on a country and its people have vanished completely. I have opened myself up to learning about people’s cultures and it has been so richly rewarding. I have made friends in countries that I had never dreamed of.
Travel has made me a better person
I know a lot of people probably say, “travel more, work less”, but this is not always possible for a lot of people. My advice would be take that local trip away for the weekend. Start small, but when you do travel – open yourself up, chat to the locals, listen and learn. By doing these things actively myself this year, I can honestly say I have found a lot of peace. I have learnt to relax and take things slow. You don’t always have to be doing something. This is a task I have long struggled with and it took me about six months before I learned the art of relaxation. Some days I still struggle but for the most part I am enjoying doing nothing. I have also learned to actively listen. This is something else I struggled with in my past. How many of us are already formulating our answers to the question and are not actively listening to the person in front of us. I am guilty as charged in this instance. My husband will attest to the fact that I also often tune out of listening to him. This year meeting new people and forging new friendships (even with language difficulties) has forced me to really listen to people. Travel has given me the opportunity to work on these things and I hope that I have become a better person from it.
In conclusion I could say that travel has given me so much but some of the things that are highlighted in my mind include:
Travel has given me a deeper understanding of people. My encounters with people from different countries has most certainly challenged my views on stereotypes that’s for sure. For example, I am not entirely sure why I thought that the American accent would annoy me, but I can say it was almost the opposite. I enjoyed their way of speaking so much and they are so friendly. We plan to go back to America to visit more cities when we can. I feel that travel has also made me more confident to engage in conversation with people of different nationalities and almost 99% of the time all these encounters have been so positive and rewarding. I have learnt so much about different cultures, new languages and even been privy to some traditions. For the most part though I have concluded that we all live in the same world, share the same air, water and skies and we are fundamentally all just human beings who want to live the best possible life no matter where we live, what colour we are and what religion we follow.
I truly feel that I have more joy, gratitude and love in my heart and my self-awareness is at an all-time high! And I have no hesitation in saying that I feel that I am meant to be where I am in life right now!
I hope that I can inspire at least one person to take that long planned trip and get out into the world, even if it’s only two hours from where you live. Start planning today.
Until next time