Travel can provide an excellent opportunity to let your hair down, relax, and enjoy the wonders of life as they present themselves to you on the open road.
Seeing new places and meeting new people can be extremely positive and encouraging experiences, and can expand your horizons and deepen your sense of your own place in the world. When you do return home, you’re likely to find that you appreciate your ordinary life all the more because of the brief time you’ve spent away from it.
In short, travel is great, with many downsides and few if any drawbacks. Whether you’re looking for an HDB for rent, or are backpacking from place to place, there’s a lot that the experience can offer.
Perhaps one of the greatest possible benefits of travel, however, is its ability to help you detach yourself from the concerns of your everyday life, and truly “discover” yourself in a deep and meaningful way. If you’ve approached your trip in the proper manner, you may find that your entire life changes subtly, but positively, as a result of your journey.
Here are some things you can do to help discover yourself when traveling.
Take a notebook with you and keep a daily travel journal
The simple act of writing is one of humanity’s most powerful tools for introspection, reflection on deep and existential topics, and — ultimately — self-analysis and discovery.
You may not be a natural writer at heart, and in fact, you may not even enjoy the experience of writing very much. Nonetheless, there are some real benefits to packing a notebook and pen next time you’re going traveling and using them every day to help structure and understand your thoughts and reflect on your experiences.
The first exercise you should adopt — and easily one of the most beneficial — is to keep a daily travel journal, both as a record of your experiences, and also as a way of summarising and analyzing your daily experiences to yourself.
This doesn’t have to take the form of an intensive novel-writing mission. Rather, you can begin by simply writing out a line or two each evening (or the next morning), detailing your experiences and reflecting on your thoughts or feelings about them. You could even note down any broader thoughts or considerations that might be playing on your mind in general.
This may seem like a bit of a pointless exercise at first, but don’t underestimate the degree to which humans structure and organize their thoughts by clearly articulating them. Writing is one of the best overall ways of achieving this.
Depending on how you choose to record your travel journal, you might also end up with a series of fascinating stories and anecdotes preserved in time, that you can reflect on fondly years later, share with friends or family, or even use as the basis for a future book.
In addition to writing your journal entries, you should also take the time to express yourself on the blank page in any way you want, as the inspiration comes to you. This could involve writing short, spur-of-the-moment poems while sitting in front of a beautiful landscape, or it could involve sketching or drawing as the mood takes you.
Either way, keep a pen and notebook with you when traveling.
Take some books that help you to understand yourself, or think about big issues
When traveling, people will often pack pretty lighthearted novels and airport-paperbacks, if they’re packing any books at all. There is nothing wrong with reading these kinds of books, of course, but they generally won’t have a dramatic, immediate impact on you in terms of helping you to deepen your understanding of yourself, or the direction you’re heading in, in life, or get a handle on deeper considerations of what your ultimate values and goals are.
In order to ensure that you have the greatest possible chance of exercising positive self-reflection on your travels, identify some books that you think will help you come to terms with yourself, or address a real issue in your life, or at least cause you to think deeply, and then take one or two of those with you on your travels.
Self-help books are a great option in this regard — particularly if you’ve vetted them carefully and aren’t just grabbing anything from that shelf of your local bookstore — but works of philosophy, or psychology, or even business organization and productivity, can fill the same role.
The key thing is that you do some reading on your travels, on a subject that gives you real food for thought and has the potential to change your life in some way.
Travel is one of the best times to read such books, as you are away from your usual environment, and are detached enough from your everyday concerns that you can begin to view your ordinary life from a “bird’s eye” perspective, rather than being too caught up in it directly, to see the forest for the trees.
Use the trip as an opportunity to cut down on some of your usual vices
Most people have certain vices which they indulge in on a regular basis, and these aren’t always as dramatic as addictions to hard drugs.
In fact, for many people today, their “vices” can be things which don’t immediately seem to present a major issue, or which might otherwise be harder to pin down. An addiction to caffeine, a tendency to gamble, or occasional binge-drinking, can all seem reasonable if kept within the normal boundaries and not allowed to “spill over” into obviously problematic behavior.
But even something as innocuous as a caffeine addiction can cause an array of underlying health conditions, psychological, and lifestyle problems that might be hard to spot at first glance but which can nonetheless add up to a series of profoundly negative effects over time.
For example; over-use of stimulants such as caffeine prompts your body to dramatically increase its production of stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. When these hormones are produced in the right quantities, at the right times — typically when there’s a real threat that you’ve got to face — they serve an important role in protecting you and guiding you safely through life.
When these hormones are produced in excess or are produced too frequently, or for prolonged periods of time, on the other, the consequences can be devastating, and may include — reduced cognitive function (as the brain struggles to regenerate itself, or develop new neurons), reduced organ health (as organs such as the adrenal glands or thyroid are completely over-taxed and stop working as they should) and more.
If, on the other hand, your vices are more linked to indulgent habits such as eating processed foods, or surfing social media all day, the effects may be less explicitly physical but are still more than capable of causing you serious problems.
Perhaps one of the most negative effects of being ruled by your vices is the simple fact that they distort your view of what is and isn’t normal, and make it difficult for you to organize your life in a clearheaded way.
Cutting back on some of your vices while traveling — or ideally, shortly before traveling — can help to give you the clearheaded awareness that you need in order to face life head on and deal with its challenges.