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How You Can Broaden Your Horizons with Travel

How You Can Broaden Your Horizons with Travel

Instead of just sitting on some tropical beach and sipping pina coladas during your vacations, it is very possible to get a ton of personal growth from your travels. But in order to do this, you will have to get off those all-inclusive beach resorts and five-star hotels. Although there might be some exceptions, most of these resorts will be too comfortable — unless there are some attractions nearby that offer some type of personal growth opportunities.

Even so, the reality is that the majority of tourists who stay at all-inclusive resorts will never go off site during their entire vacations. If you want to go to the most rewarding travel destinations offering the most personal growth, you have to steer clear of the places that are too “touristy” and aimed for the masses. You have to find less-traveled locations where you may not have the comforts and conveniences of luxury travel.

Direct Interaction With The Locals

One of the best travel experiences comes from direct interaction with the locals. Many Canadians and Europeans have been vacationing in Cuba for years and despite the US travel embargo, there are American tourists who travel there with official special permission as well — and by using other indirect routes from time to time.

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As expected, the vast majority of tourists stay at new all-inclusive beach resorts. The only Cubans they will see during their entire stay are the resort staff and those at the airport. These tourists will never leave the resorts to see the real lives of Cubans in their own local communities.

When I was down there, I chose to stay for part of my trip at a casa particular. These are rooms at homes that average Cubans rent out to travelers. I ended up getting a full apartment in Havana. Although it was not a five-star luxury suite, it was clean, safe and comfortable.

Instead of eating at tourist restaurants, the family who owned the casa particular prepared home-cooked meals for me. Through my rusty, basic Spanish, I got to interact with the family and see how average Cubans really live. They told me about Cuban life while I entertained them with some facts about life in my own country, Canada (especially our winters).

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The personal growth I got out of this interaction with the family was priceless. One just cannot get this by staying at a five-star resort. Not to mention that staying at a casa particular with the home-cooked meals was actually less than 50% of the cost of staying at the resorts and hotels. I was providing some much needed income for the Cuban family as well, which made it even more worthwhile.

Get Further Away From Tourist Spots

During this same trip, I also decided to venture out further. I got private transportation and traveled five hours west of Havana to a remote location that was a recognized biosphere called Maria La Gorda. Here, I scuba dived in pristine waters untouched by the tourist crowds. Sure, the transit was a bit rough, but going to places like this really broadened my horizons.

The trip along the way was also an experience in itself as I got to interact with my local Cuban taxi driver one-on-one for the entire ride. He pointed out interesting things along the way, told me about Cuban baseball, discussed classic American cars that are still running on the island and how his family dealt with hurricanes.

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You just can’t get any of these experiences by staying at an all-inclusive resort.

Do Your Advance Travel Research

Of course, instead of having everything catered to you as in an all-inclusive resort, you have to figure out where to stay, where to eat, where to travel and how to get around and some safety precautions. All of such information is available if you spend enough time doing advance travel research.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of information that you can access online via travel forums, travel reports and even social media including YouTube (I uploaded a few Cuban travel videos you can search there as my contribution). You can also get information from travel agencies that deal with adventure or specialized travel and from consulates from destination countries.

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Travel away from the tourist resorts does take more planning and you may have to rough it out a bit. I have taken similar trips in Asia, Central America and Europe. But the direct interaction and connections you make with people from other cultures as well as experiencing special destinations that the tourist masses will never see, make such travel incredibly worthwhile.

If you have or plan to travel to special places to broaden your horizons as well, please feel free to share below.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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