Have you been feeling like that proverbial hamster that goes round and round on the hamster wheel, but in reality, reaches nowhere. If yes, it poetically means that your spirit has been shrivelling up and you have been turning a deaf ear to its desperate pleas:
“Battery Down! Needs Instant Charging!”
And what better way to recharge yourself than to experience the joy of being bitten by what is notoriously called the ‘travel bug’.
Travelling, as Cambridge English blithely defines, doesn’t just need to be “going from one place to another”, but can be as Danny Kaye puts it, “taking a journey into oneself”.
There are so many reasons for which one travels. Some trips are organized after deliberate and careful planning, with a specific purpose set from the beginning, while others are just fixed on the drop of a hat, spurred by a sudden craving to experience ‘something new in life’.
What’s amazing about these journeys is that in spite of being so many in number, there is hardly a handful of those which we can boast of being ‘unforgettable’. Therefore, it begs the question as to what is it that makes some travel experiences stand out among others, with memories that we can cherish forever?
Ask the people afflicted with wanderlust and they would say that some journeys include moments so exhilarating, that they end up leaving an indelible mark on their soul. Like getting to witness the birth of a baby elephant on an African safari or being able to gaze down from the Grand Canyon with a birds-eye view.
The only glitch with such happy moments is that many of them won’t be under your control and would come and go as if destined.
So, what is it that you can consciously do to make your travel experiences life-changing?
Stout-hearted travellers like George Bernard Shaw, who said “I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad”, deliberately choose to face situations that push them out of their comfort zone. They try to do new things, things they would normally steer clear of in their daily lives.
Since doing so reveals a stronger side of them that is normally concealed in their daily lives, which in turn, gives them the confidence to face further challenges head-on.
Well, that hardly means trying to get in midst of a fight between two-armed people to discover if you possess an inner Hercules.
So, what does it mean? What is it that you can do to emerge as an enriched person after every journey you make?
Below are some advice that many famous travellers would have given you, had you posted the above question to them:
1. Don’t expect your journey to be a walk in the park
In other terms, learn to roll with the punches. Like they show in the movies, not everything would be sunshine and roses during your travel. The weather could take a turn for the worse and squash your well-planned itinerary. The pilot may fall sick, delaying your flight and leaving you stranded at the airport. You could catch a nasty stomach bug and be bedridden for days to go.
In such situations being calm and composed would not only bring you greater mental peace but make you better equipped to solve the problems with a clear mind. And once you cross the hurdles, you will realize that your problems are insurmountable only if you make them such. Moreover, it is these misadventures that make the most interesting tales you can recount from your journey.
2. Learn to be curious
Travelling to a new place is like having a whole new world open up before you. But that whole experience loses its charm if you stick to one place and don’t go out to explore the wonders that the new world has to offer. Fuel your curiosity, explore the uncharted territories and you may just come across some unforgettable hidden gems. Like a nondescript restaurant offering such mouth-watering food and warm reception, that it will leave a permanent dent on your psyche. Or some quaint hilltop tucked in the corner of the city presenting a view that will blow your mind away.
The joy of discovering such lucky finds would give you the courage to take more independent decisions in your life and the confidence to pursue your dreams, even if it means taking the road less travelled.
3. Befriend strangers on the way
Doing so becomes especially imperative when you are a solo traveller. Blasting music on your iPod and fictitious novel characters embroiled in a drama can occupy your mind only to a point. Beyond that, you would get desperate for real people with their real-life stories. The beauty of making friends on your travel is that not only you see a new world with your own eyes but get to glance at it from the perspective of other people. You learn as much from the stories of your new friends as you do from your own experiences.
And when you return home, your pockets may be lighter, but your heart would definitely feel fuller, brimming with the experiences you had with your new pals, all hailing from different countries and different cultures but sharing a common love for travelling. With each journey, as you bond with new people, you would realize having become a happier and lighter person, with greater faith in humanity than before.
4. Learn to think out of the box
Sometimes finding creative solutions to your problems would not seem a luxury but become a need. What’s one supposed to do when all the accommodations are booked and there is no place to stay? When you desperately need to contact your friends, but your phone battery has died?
Desperate times could call for desperate measures and only those who could come with alternatives would find themselves triumphing over their struggles. By learning to look for offbeat solutions to the obstacles in your journey, you would develop a level-headed approach while dealing with the quandaries of your daily life.
5. Immerse yourself in your new surroundings
The best kind of travel experiences are those where every stop shares a different story. You come across new faces, hear varied dialects, get offered different cuisines and experience complete different cultures, all within a single journey. When you try to greet people in their vernacular language, sample their indigenous food and endeavour to immerse yourself in their culture, not only your brain becomes sharper, but it broadens your horizon.
Witnessing people demonstrate unswerving fortitude in the wake of problems much bigger than yours opens your eyes to how miniscule your own issues are in the larger scheme of things. And at the end, you also learn to appreciate the small pleasures in life which you might have taken for granted before. In this regard, Gustave Flaubert, the famous French novelist rightly said, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
So, even if you have been feeling like being ‘stuck in a rut’ for long, it is never too late to revitalize yourself. All you need is to pack your trusty backpack, don your travel gear, and embark on that trip you had doodled about in your ‘to do’ list.
Just remember, any journey can be a lacklustre experience or a transformative affair, depending on what choices you make on the way. If you are looking to enrich yourself through travelling, what you need to do is open your heart to all the lessons that the journey has to teach.
In the end, you would come out transformed, not because of the challenges are thrown your way, but for the attitude, you cultivated while dealing with them.