Despite the cliches of how travel changes you, and the overly-marketed concept of self-discovery through travel, there’s no denying that there is a lot of truth to these enticing concepts.
Spending an extended period of time discovering any country which is not your home, is bound to open your mind and introduce you to new ideas, cultural norms and ways of life.
What you experience on the road does not have to be drastically different from what you already know, to incite even the smallest of changes. You may not even change your lifestyle. But you’ll more than likely look at things differently when you return home, with that little bit more knowledge and experience behind your opinions.
These are the things that I now do differently after traveling for an extended period of time.
1. Take shorter showers
You think about all the times you experienced water shortages, or complete outages when you were travelling. You remember the local indigenous family you visited in the remotest parts of Northern Colombia, who traveled several miles a day to a well, through the desert, where they could collect water for their family.
Now, you just can’t allow yourself to take long showers, knowing how precious water really is.
2. Compare the cost of purchases to its equivalent in accommodation.
You’re looking at a potential purchase in a store or online, and you keep asking yourself, ‘do I really need this?’. This pairs of jeans is the equivalent of 5 nights in a hostel in your next dream destination. You suddenly realize you don’t need them.
Now, you put the jeans back on the shelf, or empty your online shopping cart, and get re-focused on your goal of saving to travel.
3. Listen to the news differently
You’ve always watched the news, but you mostly just skimmed the surface of news events; especially of those concerning countries far from your own.
Now, when you hear news about your beloved countries; lands where you’ve spent the last 2 years of your life wandering, you listen intently and you understand more clearly. You think about the reality of the facts being presented. To you, these places are no longer just a vague metric on a screen.
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher (CLICK TO TWEET!)
4. Avoid generalizations about a country
You’re hanging out with friends or family when the topic of conversation turns to a country where you have traveled. They make a broad generalization about a place you know and love, labeling it as ‘very dangerous’.
Now, you can’t help but voice your opinion on the matter, because you know that no country in the world is ‘very dangerous’ as a whole. The notion of a country being ‘very dangerous’ is far too broad and you know from experience that the reality is often much more complex.
5. Get phased by the small stuff
Your once-shy nature used to cause you to make a big deal out of small matters, like talking to strangers. Now that you’ve been forced to do it in another language, multiple times, those things that once scared you now seem so simple.
You’ve been laughed at for your terrible Spanish grammar, you’ve been misunderstood and you’ve confused people, and even these ‘embarrassing’ events were not really a big deal, in hindsight.
Now, you remember the road you’ve traveled; the long and difficult days when you missed the comfort of home, and the great days when you felt nothing but joy, freedom and peace in your heart. Suddenly, talking to strangers in your own country, in your own language doesn’t seem so scary.
You don’t always come home from traveling as a completely changed person, but there are always some small changes that manifest themselves within you, whether you’re conscious of them or not.
Things don’t have to change the world to be important. – Steve Jobs (CLICK TO TWEET!)
These are things I do. Is there any thing do differently after traveling?