Travel is a gift you give yourself. It creates happiness before, during and after and travelling with intent and purpose can help you create a life you love everyday.
1. Learning to be yourself
How many times have you stopped yourself from saying or doing something because you were worried about what other people would think? Too many right?! Me too. I’m sure you’ve heard the now clichéd “Dance like nobody’s watching…” Well that’s what travel can feel like except that it applies to everything, not just dancing. Being somewhere where you know nobody, have no real responsibilities, no role or duties to fulfill (except traveller!) and have no one to push their expectations on you, is SO liberating. Escaping a society creating a mould and constantly pressuring you to fit into it, gives you the opportunity to find your own flow, explore your preferences without compromise, to be selfish without feeling guilty.
Pacific Coast Trail, Oregon
2. Empowers and builds confidence
If you stay in your comfort zone you`re going to miss out on a lot of what life has to offer. And if you aren’t happy in your comfort zone and you stay there, don`t expect happiness to come looking for you. Travel in and of itself pushes you out of your comfort zone. But you can take it a step further and really challenge yourself. I purposely seek out experiences that make me uncomfortable when I travel. Heck, travelling solo in and of itself makes me uncomfortable. I`ve done a yoga teacher training, multi-day hikes, tried foods I would never think of eating (and can`t pronounce!), ziplined through I have a fear of heights, and many more things. Each time I have do these things I feel more empowered, confident and fearless. You are also going to encounter trying situations from flights being delayed, luggage lost and potentially worse such as a theft or unexpected illness. Having to navigate these situations helps you to trust yourself more and realize how amazing you really are!
You will find yourself experiencing this in multiple ways when travelling. The gratitude for our first world privilege for example. Travelling will open your eyes to all the opportunities and benefits we were simply born into having. Heck having the means and ability to travel is a massive privilege in and of itself. Depending on where you travel of course, you will see that not everyone is so lucky. And you may also notice that though they might not be so lucky, sometimes they`re happier than many of us. Something to ponder for sure.
You will also just have so much gratitude for all the amazing new things you experience and foods you sample and people you meet.
Secrets Papagayo, Costa Rica
The rut of our day-to-day routines can often cause us to take for granted many of the things around us. When we arrive in a new and novel environment and our senses are piqued. We become so much more aware of our surroundings and what we see, hear, sense, touch and of course taste! This brings with it a newfound appreciation and happiness. This happiness is often accompanied by feelings of peace, calm and satisfaction. Plus we are given breathing space that is often unavailable at home. Take advantage of moments of peace and quiet and simply `be`.
Social interactions make us happier. This is another scientific fact. Again this can be realized in different ways. For some reason it`s much easier to make friends on the road then when you are at home. There seems to be less boundaries to cross and often curiosity will spur a conversation. If you`re travelling solo you may seek out others to share a meal or an adventure with. Sometimes you even make a friend for life! I would consider myself an introvert overall, yet when I travel I find myself excited and energized by others.
If you are travelling with family, friends or a partner you`re going to be almost constantly together and almost guaranteed to encounter stressful situations. This can give you a wonderful opportunity to discover and understand more about each other. Travelling with others can certainly test your relationship at times and where you succeed, result in some of the happiest memories ever!
6. Confrontation with the inner self
It is beyond clichéd at this point to think about travel as a way to find yourself. And movies like Eat Pray Love, Walter Mitty and even Wild, have only glammed it up and glossed it down. That is not reality but a highlight reel. I am going to tell you straight up that your doubts, fears and insecurities are some extra unwanted baggage that travel with you. Luckily it`s weightless so you don`t get an excess baggage fee! Seriously though, you are not going to be able to pretend they are not there, nor hide behind mundane daily responsibilities, and denying them won`t allow you to overcome them. You`re going to have to confront those fears and break them down so you can break through. Or even try to welcome them with open arms and understand how they are serving you. This is uncomfortable work but if you can get through those layers the most profound truths about your true self and your power will be revealed.
Kumano Kodo, Japan
Recalling memories of happiness can sustain a feeling of contentment long after the moment has passed. Looking at pictures and sharing stories with family and friends can help bring those memories to the front of your consciousness. Shared memories created when travelling with others are something you will carry with you for a lifetime.
8. Apply the lessons learned
I see travel as the biggest gift you can give yourself, and one that keeps on giving. You may find yourself immersed in experiences that engulf your entire self – body, mind, soul – which transform you. The key here is to take the lessons learned, the insight gained and apply it to your life at home. From daily actions to relationships to goals and dreams, travel can shape and change you.
9. Education & perspective
Travel offers us so many ways to further our knowledge and education! I have studied Spanish in Colombia, taken cooking classes in Thailand, practiced yoga also in Thailand, learned about so many different religions and cultures. Learning makes our brains more active which neuroscience has found increases our level of happiness. Particularly so when we are learning something we find enjoyable.
In addition when we travel, as we learn, we learn to accept. Accept ourselves as we are. Accept the differences in others. This acceptance enhances our hearts and our minds and creates more love in the world.
10. Get a vitamin D boost
If you`re anything like me, the cold and darkness of winter gets you down. A winter vacay (or multiple), has become a must for me. Maybe I`m being dramatic but I simply can`t imagine I`d survive winter without doing so. Scientifically we know that vitamin D is good for us. But on a more visceral level we also know that sunshine and warmth puts us in a much better mood. Now we can`t bring that sunshine home with us, but the healthy glow and rejuvenation do last long past the trip!
Playa Blanca, Panama
Travel gives you so much. The feeling you get seeing the sun set on the other side of the world is like no other. The warmth and hospitality you experience from people in other countries is heart-warming. The sense of adventure is timeless. Travel expands our capacity for wonder, joy, appreciation and love. Travel is happiness period.
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