How Travel Changed Me
Travel changes you. Every trip you take is a chance to learn more about yourself, the world, and the way you choose to interact within it. You can see things that you’ve never seen, whether it’s the Eiffel Tower or a horse that can do math, and everything else in between. You are given the opportunity every time you get in the car, board a plane, or put on a pair of shoes to find something completely new and inspiring, if you can be open to it.
Sometimes, when the timing is right, when the events line up in just the right way, you can recognize the moment that the change happens. Sometimes it can be profound – you can find a life’s purpose, like building a school in Africa. Sometimes it’s small, like discovering you like gelato and are inspired to learn how to make it yourself. Sometimes, it is just remembering who wanted to be instead of who you are today. These changes, big or small, alter us as individuals if we let them. And the really cool thing is that it can become contagious. In a time where we are fed a narrative that the world is dangerous, that those who think differently than us are wrong, where homogenization is rampant, and where we are led to believe that people are untrustworthy, these moments of transformation are a blessing. They have great power even in small doses – the power to transform the world, one person at a time. This blog is about discovering and sharing those stories, hopefully planting the seeds for others to be open to the joys of travel and how it can expand people’s lives in unexpected ways.
My life changing experience happened last year, on a trip to Italy. I had been to Italy before and loved it – the food, culture, people, and wine. All of it was amazing, and a trip there makes for a fantastic experience – I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Last year, however, something shifted in me. My partner and I were traveling with friends for 17 days. We explored Florence, had a great time watching the Palio horse race in Siena, snorkled around Elbe and Cinque Terre and their amazing beaches, and really had a great time relaxing in the fabulousness that is Italy.
In the middle of all this, we stayed a week at an agritourismo, or working farm, in Tuscany. During that time, there was no Internet, no TV, no radio, no air conditioning (and really, I could’ve been inspired without that inconvenience) and no plan for spending the days. It was the first time in all my travels that I had slowed down enough to just be (not do) and watch the world.
What I saw was a world not run by man made clocks and schedules. People lived life at a pace I hadn’t really noticed before. They did work, but at a way that suited them. The slow life of Italy had a chance to show itself, teasingly, shyly, and beguiling, and I was mesmerized by what I felt. It’s not that work wasn’t happening, but it wasn’t work for the sake of work, which is so prevalent in my life. There was a thoughtfulness and consideration to each action; an evaluation of whether something was worth doing, and once weighed and evaluated, it followed organically to an evaluation of when to do it, because maybe it didn’t need to be done right now. Seeing that life before me, I was stuck by how much I wanted to have that for myself. I made big plans on how I was going to change my life to be more like those Italians.
As we returned home, I struggled to balance my new found desire to slow down with the frenetic nature of my job and family life. I became distracted and angry, and I struggled to define what was wrong. After a few months of this, combined with the perpetual daydreaming of the next trip, I figured out what was missing. My internal clocks were out of sync with the ones from my job. My first response was to try and adjust the work situation to be more like I wanted it to be, but I was unable to get any support. As that became less of an option, it became clear I needed to change what I was doing, as I was never going to change the company I worked for. That realization was a key moment, as I stopped resisting or making up stories that something was wrong with me and started taking action to make my life congruent with what I wanted.
Since I have the power to create my life in any way I want, why couldn’t I have this appreciation wherever I happen to be? So I’ve taken action. I got certified to become a tour director, and I started this blog.
The realization that I wanted to use my power for good was a revelation – not that I was using it for evil, but I wasn’t using it to make me happy, which is bad enough. I want connect with others who have been changed by their travels. In doing so, I get to learn what is possible, and I get to find the hearts of my fellow travelers. I am also more aware of bow many people are afraid of traveling to places where they don’t speak the language, where the food is different, or where the culture is strange. They have bought into the fear that the ‘otherness’ of the world is to be avoided. I really want to encourage people to break out of that mentality. The world doesn’t need to be viewed a big scary place. It’s a vast sea of people just waiting to meet you, to tell you their stories, and to share their wisdom, if you just let it happen.
What I learned in Italy is that I can live my life on my own terms, and I want that feeling of slow satisfaction with me all the time. It’s led me to re-evaluate my life and what I want from it, and helped give me the insight and courage to put it into action. I’m not completely there yet, but I know what I want and I am working to create a new reality.
This blog is the manifestation of the change I want to see in the world. I want to help people to travel to different places and explore the world, both through this blog and through being a tour director. Both of these actions are in alignment with my desire to see people go wherever they want to go, on their own terms, in their own way, and maybe see that spark of transformation as a result. This mission only came about because I was willing to explore. Travel has become more that an escape from everyday life. It’s now about possibility, about transformation, about potential. This is how travel has changed me.
So now I want to hear from you. I’d love to hear your stories and post them on the blog, so please contact me if you’re interested. Travel can inspire people in many ways – how has travel changed you?