If you are considering traveling, you might google a bit or watch some videos on Youtube and very likely you will stumble upon various quotes, how much traveling will change you and your perspective and you’re whole future life. This is not so easy, unfortunately, it takes a bit more.
To begin with, there are several kinds of traveling: Some people, actually many of my classmates or colleagues, manage to go abroad and to not interfere at all with the local culture or the people there. And there is nothing bad about being at the pool, or relaxing in the city or even staying in your hotel room at times. But there is another world outside and it takes a little courage to discover it. And even though I am always seeking this experience, it is not always possible: Sometimes, I am just exhausted and want to (socially) relax, sometimes I am just in a bad mood, or the people I am are not perfectly fitting the experience, and sometimes, I am learning more about myself than about others.
But if you once had this „travel experience“, this being one with the whole world and feeling home wherever you are, you become quickly addicted. I had some of these precious moments and I will try to convey the magic and the relevance these experiences offer: Just image, when you are going somewhere, where nobody knows you, you are a blank canvas. Which means, you can practically be whoever you would like to be, you can invent your story, you can even give yourself another name. Trying this out, you might feel relief from all roles and expectations you are facing at home, you have no past, only the one you define, and you can try to be someone you always wanted to be. This is not easy, of course, but you can try it everyday: The people you see on your travels will pass, you won't see them again and you really don't need to care.
On the other hand, you can try to have an open attitude towards the place you are situated: This involves making yourself vulnerable, which might be very scary at first. Talking to stranger, sharing ones honest feelings and fears, carefully listening and being empathic bear some risks, but you will meet lots of people who are worth the risk, and the feeling of closeness, of being together and to truly understand is more then just rewarding - It can be even life changing. It is mostly the encounters on your way, the stories you hear and the stories you’ll create which you will remember. As a quite shy person, it was very hard for me at first, I was constantly doubting myself and I didn't dare to talk to strangers. But traveling is all about stepping out your comfort zone, even confronting yourself with your fears, and it will teach you, that you are stronger then you’ll have ever thought.
It is also important to travel alone: Surely, traveling with your friends or partner is fun, wonderful and deepening your relationship, but being on your own will teach you a lot of lessons: You will feel discomfort at times, but you will learn being with yourself fast and this is one of the things we lose in this modern day, full of distraction and stimulation. Furthermore, to get the most out of this experience, try to be as reflective as possible: Write, sing, meditate about what you see, what you live and think and how it makes you feel, try to be connect to the place, the reality and the time you’re in ( don't think too much about the past or the future). Even though writing a diary seems pathetic as well, it helps. It helps sorting out feelings or thought, plus it is a nice memory and funny to read years later.
As already mentioned, your attitude toward the world is important: Here a balance between respectful and daring is necessary. Especially if you travel outside your cultural region, I think it is very important to be respectful towards the local culture, customs and religions. This helps you also to connect more to the local inhabitants and you can engage in interesting conversations and events you would probably miss as a regular tourist. Then again, being brave is important as well: Asking questions is legitimate, but always have in mind that your way of thinking is coined by Western philosophy, and your information originates equally by solely Western media. Being critical is important, but try to be also critical toward your own culture, worldview and information.
When I asked my friends about traveling, they all told me that it was a real life-changing experience for them: While walking through deep forest or crossing deserts, they learned than in all their school years. Some of my best friends did a pilgrimage recently and told me about it: „ We aren’t religious and still, we loved the way and the kind of spirituality that surrounded it. Especially during hard times, when our feet hurt and we were just tired, we leaned important lessons: Never give up, just keep on walking - And you will reach your goals.“ This is informal leaning, learning about ourselves, and this is what every young person needs beside formal school education.
This way of traveling can be dangerous, it made me hitchhike, talking with complete strangers and entrusting people I have just met, so my last advice is: Despite all previous aspects, stay safe! Be always attentive, have always an alternative figured out and don’t trust any stranger completely. If you are careful, this way of traveling is not naive (what probably many will think), but trustful towards the world. And there is nothing which is more beautiful, then experiences that the world is worth trusting in.
All travel advice in short:
- Be vulnerable
- Travel alone
- Be reflective
- Be brave
- Be respectful
- And despite the previous aspects, stay safe!
Some recommendation for travel literature:
- Jack Kerouac: On the Road
- George Orwell: Down and out in Paris and London
- Hermann Melville: Moby Dick
- Robert Louis Stevenson: The treasure island
- Yann Martel: Life of Pi
The value of travel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYXiegTXsEs