More often than not, a trip is nothing but a few days or weeks spent away from home. The rest of the time, however, it can a major turning point in your life.
So if you've ever thought about booking a one-way ticket far away from home, leaving your life behind for a while to find yourself, or simply experiencing your own real life version of "Eat, Pray, Love", you’ll be glad to know that Italy, India, and Indonesia aren’t the only places to do so.
Because taking flight, no matter the destination, is the perfect first step to rediscovery.
Sure, an existential crisis probably won’t just hit you out of nowhere. But the little questions that come to mind will definitely make you rethink a thing or two about the way you live life.
Off the top of your head, can you think of things you’re passionate about? If you can, that’s great–and you should definitely pursue them if you aren’t already. If you can’t, maybe travel can help you put things into perspective.
Who knows? Maybe you could spark some love you never knew was there.
But the thing is, there isn’t only one type of love. It could be a love for:
The English language has beautiful words like wanderlust and serendipity. But you’ve got to admit that some things are just much more beautifully said when said in another language.
The Serbian word "merak" refers to a feeling of bliss and the sense of oneness with the universe that comes from simple joys. It is the pursuit of small, daily pleasures that cause a great sense of happiness and fulfillment.
"Heimat", a German word, speaks of the childhood place that shaped who you are. The music, the arts, the friends, and the family you’ve encountered growing up. In other words, it doesn’t just talk about your homeland pride–it talks about your roots.
"Ubuntu", from Southern Africa, in a literal sense, means “humanity”. It can be translated to “I am because we are.”. However, it is also known as the belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness towards others.
These are just a few examples of untranslatable words in other languages. But they are enough to create a fascination to learn a language other than your own.
Traditions and customs in other places may seem odd at first, but this is only because they are not the ones you have gotten used to. When you find out the meaning behind them, however, you may end up changing your mind–and possibly discovering a passion for gaining more knowledge in the process.
Take honesty shopping in Switzerland, for example.
It may seem like the worst idea for farmers to leave their stores unwatched while they take care of their animals. But in the Swiss Alps, this is completely normal. It is also really amazing if you think about it. To be able to be able to have such a sense of trust for your community that the only thing you leave behind in your store is a basket for them to put their payments in.
And if it’s not–seemingly–strange customs, it could also be breathtaking festivals, just like the Sky Lantern Festival in Pingxi, Taiwan. As for historical context, these breathtaking “fire balloons” originated in the Xing Dynasty. They were released to let those who sought refuge in the mountains know that the town was once again safe from outlaws.
Amazingly, this tradition lives on today. The citizens use lanterns to represent the end of the Chinese New Year period, as well as to display the scribbled hopes and dreams of the ones who releases them into the night sky.
In the spirit of Eat, Pray, Love, this one had to be here, and rightfully so.
With all the unique delicacies each place has to offer, it doesn’t come as a surprise that so many people have developed a passion for all things cuisine. They’d argue that it isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.
So much so that those who have fallen in love with the world of food seem to be on a never-ending quest for the best meal they’ve ever tasted–so far, at least.
Because when you’ve tried authentic dim sum in China, pizza in Italy, fried rice from Thailand, or Korean barbecue straight from the source, it’s likely that you’ll join your fellow foodies–or connoisseurs, if you prefer–on their quest as well.
After all, why limit yourself to the same few fast food restaurants when there’s literally a world of options to explore?
There are people who are fine with sticking to their daily routines everyday, then there are those who vow to live every day like it’s their last. If you consider yourself the latter, you would probably agree that although there are many ways to get your heart racing, adventure is the best one.
You don’t have to jump into doing something extreme, though. Especially something you’re not sure if you can handle. You can start with a simple adventure like hiking a nearby mountain, then eventually find the strength to do something more exciting, like volcano trekking in Mount Etna in Sicily.
On the way up, the adrenaline will definitely speed up your heart rate.
Don't worry too much, though–the solidified rivers of lava, and breathtaking views of the sea and mainland below are sure make your heart stop.
Figuratively, of course.
And if you’re not into land adventures, maybe you’d prefer something under the sea. You could go snorkeling by The Big Island in Hawaii to see technicolor coral, colorful fish, dolphins and turtles. Then you could work your way up to diving with sharks around Seal Island near Cape Town, South Africa someday.
When you’re in the comfort of your own city, it probably rarely crosses your mind to start a conversation with the strangers you cross paths with. When you’re away, on the other hand, there seems to be a force that helps you open up.
One that encourages you to find it in your heart to turn a stranger into a friend.
The people you meet abroad can even prove to you that captivating experiences aren’t only found in the movies. They happen in real life, too.
Isn’t it amazing to think that every person you have ever come across has their own unique story, a story completely different from your own as to how they have become the person that they are today? If so, what better way to act on that thought than to roam the different countries of the world, eager to learn the stories behind every new face you encounter.
As you gather stories from people of all ages and walks of life, you may even realize that you gained a few life lessons from the people you’ve met.
In full Humans of New York style, of course.
The list goes on, and the best thing about it is that it’s completely in your control. There’s no rush to figure out your passions, anyway. So while you wait for inspiration to strike, maybe another important question will present itself.
Whether or not you admit it, you are running–the question is in what direction. Are you running away, or are you running towards something?
Countless successful travel bloggers have quit their day jobs to pursue the life of adventure that awaits them through their travels,
And even they can admit that they’re running.
Matt, from Nomadic Matt, took a trip to Chiang Mai in 2005 and met five backpackers who taught him that it was possible to travel full-time. He then flew home, finished his MBA, quit his job, and started a journey in July 2006 that continues until this day.
Regarding the topic of running, this is what he had to say:
“I’m running towards everything–towards the world, exotic places, new people, different cultures, and my own idea of freedom. People who travel the world aren’t running away from life. Just the opposite. Those that break the mould, explore the world, and live on their own terms are running toward true living.
We have a degree of freedom a lot of people will never experience. We get to be the captains of our ships. But it is a freedom we chose to have. We looked around and said, 'I want something different.'
It was that freedom and attitude I saw in travellers years ago that inspired me to do what I am doing now. I saw them break the mould and I thought to myself, ‘Why not me too?’
I’m not running away.
I am running towards the world and my idea of life.
And I never plan to look back."
What’s great about Matt’s decision was that it wasn’t an impulsive one. He sorted out his priorities before he took off for the adventure of a lifetime—and it certainly paid off.
He proved that although you may discover something life-changing through your travels, there is still an element of planning involved.
So if–or when–you decide to reevaluate your life by taking flight, don’t make the mistake of diving head first into it.
Many people come back from a supposed trip of rediscovery empty-handed.
Because they go straight ahead to asking themselves the ultimate question:
When this question becomes too overwhelming for them to answer at once, they make the mistake of using travel as an escape instead. For them, travel transforms from a gateway to a better life, to a way to outrun the problems of a difficult one.
And sure, there are other ways to find yourself, but it is through travel that you are put in the best position to reflect about the things that matter most. More than taking a much-needed vacation, it’s also about finding the courage to think about the questions you’ve been too scared to ask yourself.