Travelling and self-discovery

Woman taking photos of ancient ruins

I was at the Catholic Voices workshop on Storytelling the other day, and mentioned that I am writing a novel (I know what you’re thinking, I am actually adding words to it now, unlike for the past decade or so). I briefly mentioned that it revolves around the trope of finding oneself when travelling. It may not do it 100% justice, but it is the oldest trope in the history of humanity because intuitively we know that travel changes us and that’s why we love reading stories about people going somewhere and thinking deep thoughts.
We all travel for different reasons. Still, no matter what your motivation is, travel can change you, and if you want to, you can be intentional about fostering this growth and living your own version of Wild…what’s best is that you don’t have to actually go hiking if that’s not your thing (don’t do a Lorelai).

Make Memories

If you’ve been around a while you know I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, from the really good ones to the really trashy one (Leap Year anyone?). One of my favourites has to be the indie rom-com “Non-Transferrable”. The two characters live in a tension between happy go lucky and plan to the millisecond, but what both of them value is memories. Some people make a dream board and create a travel bucket list and build their trips around that, but you can also be intentional about the use of your time on trips you already have planned for whatever reason.

Focus on Your Relationships

I am a big fan of solo travelling, but as a bride six months away from a really small and inexpensive wedding I have read eveeeeerything on the internet about whether you should have a honeymoon and whether a staycation is enough. I have also screwed up friendships while travelling, so this really needs deliberation. The unexpected is going to make it or break it, so you really need to be mindful of the person(s) you are travelling with and the group dynamics, and work with that by compromising.

Take a Step Back From Your Life

The new phenomenon, especially among freelancers and business owners, is the Instagram photo with the required Macbook on a sun bed, and cocktails at hand. It’s good that people can now work from wherever, but it’s also blurred the lines around what constitutes a holiday. By all means travel to work with a different view, but also take holidays when you take a step back from your life, as well as your business. It will not only recharge you, but might also be the best way to create a breakthrough. You will be able to look at what you are doing as an outsider. Taking a step back from your daily routine might reveal the most important development areas you have been ignoring. Many people are hesitant to just go unplugged because social media is a big part of what they do, but there are many tools for scheduling or if you want complete peace of mind, there are many companies offering social media packages for small business owners.

Travel when you need to make a decision

We come to a crossroads in life more often than before, and sometimes we feel stuck and can’t make a decision. A good way to overcome the different mental blocks in your life is to get out of your comfort zone. In fact, this doesn’t really need you to travel, but I know all too well how easy it is to not really zone out unless I actually go somewhere (which is part of the reason I am on retreat, according to my mother, all the time), especially because staying at home is my comfort zone. An extrovert might find a day home unplugged works just fine. If you take a step back from what you are doing, you can figure out whether you need to change your direction, and what that direction might be. If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can ask Bill Gates.There are urban retreats, or country retreats, both religious and secular, but you don’t actually have to join something organised, or take a self-help book with you for that matter…

If you have been stuck in a business or job you don’t enjoy, chances are that you will need to do some soul searching and find what you are good at and what you truly enjoy. Whether you are reaching back to your childhood dreams, or are creating new ones, you will have to try your hand at things you haven’t done before.

Make your trip a new start

I have talked a lot about new directions in business, but there are times when we are forced to start again in our personal life as well. One of the things people tell me the most is to hold my horses, because I just get stuck into new things at 100 miles per hour, and if you’re anything like me you should be intentional about a time out when this happens. Of course, you don’t have to travel, but it helps add positivity. I know money concerns are a real stumbling block with stuff like that (they have been for me), but if you want to take out a loan (and there are bad credit loan options too) and then budget from a clean slate I won’t judge you.

Make New Friends

When travelling on my own I love to go to hostels. They are cheap and designed to foster community, but they are not the only way to meet new people when travelling. There are also local forums and Facebook pages or meetup groups, and it’s even easier if the reason you travel is to an event of some sort. While those attract people with something in common, everyone will be different and bring a fresh perspective into your life.

Challenge Yourself

This is really obvious and could have gone first, but you have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and try new things if you truly want to grow. Even if your ideal holiday is 7 days sunbathing on a beach, try exotic food or go to a dance bar one evening! You don’t have to go hiking across a country to do something challenging. You can do something as simple as learning the basics of a new language and try to speak it to a native. If you go away but it’s business as usual, all that will change is the scenery.

What meaningful trips have you taken in your life? Are you planning one for this summer. Let me know, I’m curious.

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