Deciding to go on my first solo trip to Australia in November 2012 was one of my best decisions. Before I started travelling, my life was going nowhere fast.
I was stuck in a rut, working in a job that I detested. It tooka car crash to make me realise that life is too short to not take risks.
I expected to visit Australia for a year, return home and resume my life. However, I caught the travel bug and have barely stopped travelling since.
This was something I didn’t expect to happen, nor did I expect travelling to fundamentally change my perspective on so many things. Travelling long-term as opposed to going away for a break opens up your mind in ways I didn’t know was possible.
Travelling forces you to face realities which you were either unaware of or uncomfortable with. Once you come face-to-face with these realities, you will never look at life the same way again.
Exposing ourselves to different cultures and new parts of the globe is a great way to broaden our horizons and ensure we don’t become entrenched in dogmatic thinking or wallow in a comfort zone.
It was Aristotle that stated, ‘the unexamined life is one not worth living.’ I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. I would go further and say that a life where we do not push our boundaries or open ourselves to new experiences is not worth living either.
5 ways travelling changes your perspective
Travelling changes your perspective in many ways. From opening your mind to the rich cultures in the world to an appreciation for the world we live in.
Perhaps the best thing travelling did for me was to shake me out of my comfort zone and make me appreciate there are more ways to live life than what we already know. The decision to live abroad for a year in Australia was one of the best I’ve ever made!
Travelling can get a bad rep at times, especially when it’s done by people who have just left university. Despite the condescending attitude of some, travelling really can make a difference in how you see the world.
Below are five ways in which travelling can change your mindset for the better!
You Realise How Lucky You Are
If there is one thing I have learnt from travelling, it is that I am blessed to be from England. I won the genetic lottery and grew up in a developed country that offered me free education and healthcare. Above all, being born in England presented me with opportunities.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people around the world who do not have and will not have the opportunities that I have had in my life. Those people who were less fortunate than me and were born into poverty.
Backpacking in the Philippines was an eye-opening experience for me. I had never been to a country with high levels of poverty before and what I saw blew my mind.
Rivers full of dirty water, children running around streets with ragged clothes, people struggling to get by on a day-to-day basis. The trip really put things in perspective and made me realise just how lucky I was to be born in a rich country and to be able to travel the world.
We do not choose where we are born. It is pure chance that we have the fortune to have been born into developed countries.
We are truly blessed, even though we may feel like we have it rough at times, we have no idea what rough truly is!
You Realise How Similar We All Are
One of the best things that travelling does is to break down barriers between people. Rightly or wrongly, we all grow up with preconceived notions about what people from certain countries are like.
While there is some truth to these preconceptions, they are generalisations and do not apply to everyone you meet. Regardless of where we come from, we have more similarities than we do differences.
We all have the same biological makeup, we all have aspirations, hopes and fears. We are more alike than we realise, despite what some people may think. Travelling raises many thought provoking questions and forces you to question your assumptions.
By meeting people from different countries, you shed your ignorance and become more aware that cultural differences are more cracks in the ground than giant chasms.
Before I started travelling, one of my favourite things to do was to look at places around the globe on the internet or in the books I had in my house.
I remember being entranced by Uluru (Ayers Rock) when I came across it in an encyclopedia when I was younger. This probably contributed to my desire to visit the country!
As amazing as the photos look on the web or in books, there is no comparison to when you actually get up close and personal with them!
Getting to visit Uluru and see it in the flesh was a sight I will never forget. It almost didn’t look real, it looked someone had put up a big placard of a rock in the middle of the desert, such was its picture-perfect quality.
This trend continued when I continued travelling around the globe, especially while backpacking around New Zealand, which is one of the most amazing places I have been to.
We are blessed to live on this planet we call home. There is so much beauty no matter where we look. It is up to us to ensure we do not ruin it for future generations, so they can enjoy tomorrow what we enjoy today.
We only have one planet, take care of it and appreciate it, because it truly is a wondrous place!
You Realise Experiences Are More Important Than Possessions
One thing that changed my perspective on the world was travelling around with a backpack. All of the possessions that I owned were condensed down into a backpack.
I thought I would miss a lot of the stuff I left behind in England, but the only thing I missed was my bike! It was surprisingly easy to live on a minimum of stuff. In fact, I preferred it.
The clutter that you can accumulate in your normal life was not present while I was on the road. I became less inclined to hold onto items. If they didn’t serve any purpose, I got rid of them.
We cannot move for adverts telling us we need to buy this item, and that we cannot live without the latest gadget. This is all lies. We do not need these items, we want them.
You can easily get by without the majority of what you have at home. As most of it gets thrown out, neglected, or not used in the first place, it’s a wake-up call to only use what you need and to spend your money on something of value.
Instead of splashing on a new gadget, take a trip somewhere. Open your eyes to the world and you will look back in ten years and appreciate the experiences you had, more than the items you bought!
You Realise There Is More Than One Way To Live
One of the things that I don’t like about myself is that I can get set in my ways from time to time. This can be an issue when I‘m travelling because it is disruptive by its nature.
If I visit a country and they do things differently from what I’m used to, it’s easy to become negative and bemoan the fact that things aren’t like they are back home.
However, this is just sour grapes. Everywhere is different, there is no right or wrong way to live. Every country has different customs, whether we like them or not, they are there and we will have to deal with them.
What I realised is that there is more than one way to live your life. Much like democracy is an admission that we don’t know which form of politics is best, the variance we see in cultures is an admission that what works one person does not work for everyone.
Next time you visit somewhere and things aren’t to your liking, remember that we all have different ideas on how life should be lived. There is no right or wrong answer, there are only different ways of life.
Instead of dismissing these differences, we should embrace them and soak up these new experiences while we can.