Throughout life, there are many circumstances that will force you to re-evaluate your life, your decisions and your directions. Careers, family, friends and hobbies all play an important part in which road your existence will take. But for the most part, the path that is made available to you through those avenues usually follows a course of predisposition. In my experience the one true factor which really forces you to step back, reflect and reconsider everything you know and understand is the concept of travel.
Anyone can buy a ticket to a “faraway land”, with a comfortable bed already organised and a list of attractions that are worth seeing. But when I think of travel, that’s not what ideas come to my head.
It’s not the Pyramids of Giza that change you as a person. Nor is it Niagara Falls, the ruins of Rome, Petra, or any other such destination that features predominately in your chosen travel guide. The things that change you as a person are the people. The moments. The situations.
The people who have nothing but still manage to smile. The moments of stress that you are made to push on through. The situations that scare you that you manage to survive.
These are the things that force you to re-evaluate your life. I’ve met people for less than 5 minutes who have made lasting impressions on me. I learnt more about myself being angrily confronted by corrupt cops in Guatemala than a lifetime of studies could ever have taught me. And I now know I could comfortably be lost in most strange cities, in any part of the world without my heartbeat raising above its normal rate.
One of the most common travel cliches is that its not about the destination, its the journey that matters. It’s a cliche because it always resonates true amongst dedicated travellers. A week in an all-inclusive resort in Cuba will be relaxing. But sitting on a public bus, off the beaten path, practicing your broken Spanish with a friendly local will make you realise that the world is amazing in so many different ways. The internet can’t direct you to these experiences. You have to go out and search for them yourself.
One day you will return home, and everything you have grown accustomed to will seem foreign. The things that you once laughed at amongst friends will lose their humour. Food will taste bland and work will become more mundane then you can ever imagine. But these aren’t negative results. This is the divine work of travel. The most important thing you can do is to embrace it.
Life isn’t meant to be lived a particular way. Reinventing yourself is something that shouldn’t be forced, but should happen organically. Strange places, people and situations is the most authentic way you can experience this. Walk away from the familiar road. Your soul will thank you that you did.