You’ve returned from travel and are settling into your usual routine. It’s your familiar routine all right, but you’re suddenly observing things you never noticed before. It’s like seeing with new eyes. Travel experiences change you, sometimes in big ways but often, in subtle steps that will surprise you. That’s a good sign. Welcome these changes in outlook and attitude as you unveil a noticeably improved you!
10. You take photos to keep memories and share with people close to you; not to show off.
Travel is exciting, especially when it’s your first time. That’s usually when you go overboard with minute-by-minute image announcements to exhibit on social media. As you gain traveling experiences, your photos turn into meaningful slices of your personal life shared with people who know you well. You’ll intuitively select the shots you take or choose to be part of, and you won’t feel compelled to share them with everyone out there. You know it’s not a contest of been-there, done-that.
9. You keep a sense of curiosity and wonder.
The excitement settles down somewhat for frequent travelers. Unfortunately, some turn blase or even jaded. You can join the others who hold on to curiosity and wonder and who keep seeing new things. You’ll regularly go “Oh. Wow!” (jaw drop then huge smile). You’ll have an eye for observing little details—in a magnificent architecture, a famous painting, a spectacular view, the slope of a ski lift, even the crank of a zip line. Your traveling experiences bring new discoveries that fuel your curiosity for life.
8. You easily strike a conversation, not just during your traveling experiences.
Travel brings out parts of your personality that are not apparent in your “normal habitat.” Maybe it’s because you’re more relaxed on holidays or you’re free from real or perceived social norms. You find yourself enthusiastically sharing childhood stories with strangers. You feel a kinship with the tour group you spent three days with. You make lasting connections. Your relaxed social manner spills over on your return home where your renewed interest in people allows you to easily make friends.
7. You respect culture and history.
At first, reading up on your destination may only be about required malaria shots or acceptable tipping amounts. Soon, you’ll enjoy researching cuisine, sites that are off the beaten track, local customs, and little known facts. You become mindful of and respect other people’s way-of-life. Gone are the days when you unconsciously blurt out jokes or risk gestures that could offend the locals. You gain deeper historical perspectives. You learn to appreciate your own country’s culture and understand how interconnected nations are. Traveling experiences bring out the diplomat in you.
6. You are open; there’s little room for prejudice.
People who expose themselves to various cultures embrace the differences among peoples and countries. I’ve met travelers, mostly Europeans, who avoid mixing with their compatriots not because of dislike but because they purposely want to learn about other nationalities. The more traveling experiences you add up, the more comfortable you become mingling across cultures, and the less likely you’ll tolerate ethnic jokes or negative remarks about race, religion, or gender. You’re a citizen of the world.
5. You have a reverence for nature and the environment.
When you’ve visited a nature reserve, a natural heritage site, or any pristine piece of land or ocean, you become committed to protecting all sites. It’s no coincidence that divers, surfers, and mountain climbers are among the most environmentally concerned group on the planet. That’s because they’ve experienced the wondrous beauty of nature but have also seen the damage inflicted by humans. They regularly organize clean ups of the beaches, ocean floors, and mountain sides. Your traveling experiences change you to live the words “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints” … always.
4. You become deeply grateful.
A couple of peak moments in my life happened during travels: on an autumn walk through the German Black Forest and while gazing at a blue summer sky from Beijing’s Great Wall. To this day, the immense feeling of gratitude from the privilege of bearing witness to natural beauty and human achievement remains intense. I remember my eyes misting up and my lips releasing a sigh of gratitude for being alive in that moment. Walking through natural sites, scaling man-made wonders, and observing animals in their natural habitat make you grateful for their presence on the planet. You learn to truly appreciate life in general.
3. You don’t sweat the small stuff.
“I wonder how I ever in my life was self-destructive because I thought my life was bad. … I really had no idea what suffering or pain is.”
—Angelina Jolie, shortly after her life-changing experience in war-torn Cambodia while filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Travel reveals how people in other places live, sometimes with few resources, limited freedoms, or everyday risks. Like Angelina Jolie, you realize that in the bigger scheme of things, your reasons for feeling discontented with life are often petty, You value life more and vow to never again let unimportant things get to you.
2. You stop being an indifferent bystander.
Your take-away from travel can be powerfully profound. It spontaneously moves you to act like the divers, surfers and mountain climbers who clean up their beloved oceans and mountains. It shows up in your choices as a consumer. You stop patronizing companies with poor environmental records, don’t watch animal shows, select synthetic versus genuine alligator/animal skin, and shun products coming from endangered species. You contribute some amount in support of animal rights, speak up against human trafficking, and do your share to avert global warming. In your own sphere of influence, you become an activist for positive change. It’s a scaled-down—but very real—version of Angelina Jolie’s global efforts to help refugees.
1. You totally get what “travel essentials” mean.
No more packing extra sets of clothes, a dozen pairs of socks, and a complete first aid kit. It’s not that you’ve become reckless. It’s because you’ve learned to trust that what you have is enough and things will work out. You understand that surprises are part of the adventure and you’ve learned to let go. So what do you do when your connecting flight is delayed, you’re stuck overnight in the airport, and your destination hotel is about to give away your room? You get comfortable and turn to page 1 of the thriller novel you couldn’t find time to read. You observe, explore, and take interesting photos. You get ready to swap travel stories with the person next to you. You’ve got your travel essentials covered.
- a good novel;
- a camera;
- an open mind;
- a sense of humor; and
- making the best of what comes your way.
What if your precious laptop is in your luggage that got rerouted to another destination? You thank God you’ve got most of your files in an external hard drive in your carry-on bag and pray there’s a decent business center somewhere. Then you sigh, turn philosophical, and immerse yourself in the real-life, first-hand experience of your present moment.
Long after you’ve put away your luggage, your traveling experiences stay with you in pictures, in journals, and in your psyche. They contribute to turn you into the best version of who you are, so you can navigate the biggest adventure that is your life.
Featured photo credit: Simon via pixabay.com