There's no shortage of travel bloggers out there willing to wax lyrical about the delights of a life on the road. Some will spurt quotes from long-gone explorers about cracking the comfort zone and heading all Clint Eastwood-like over the horizon. Others will tell tales of momentary Zen, found bobbing with lotus leaves in the flowing Ganges or meditating for umpteen years with the babas of Mount Can't-Remember-The-Name.
We LBW folk aren't really like that. We prefer to keep the joys of travel palpable and real. We prefer pointing out things that EVERYONE can value. We prefer seeking experiences that will get the good vibes flowing, no matter whether it's just a day or two sunning yourself in a Croatian cove or a whole month hopping between the tribal towns and coffee farms of rural Vietnam.
We believe that ALL travel has its own meaning. And that even the smallest adventure can yield some seriously awesome and life-changing feelings/emotions/realizations/achievements – fill in what you want. To illustrate all that, check out this little collection of the ways in which we see travel helps us all live life to the absolute, 100%, accelerator-on-the-floor fullest…
You Will Be Able To Find New Excitement In Even The Most Mundane Things
There's a real novelty in traveling. From the biggest cultural shift to the smallest shop sign, there's really nothing like the way a bit of globetrotting can infuse new excitement into every facet of life.
There are some obvious ones to point out here. The way the sun sets in a chromatography of pink and red across the hazy sky in Rajasthan sure is different to the gloomy fading of the light in Washington DC, for example. The masterful rolling of a Japanese sushi is bound to catch your eye more than the smashing together of a Tex-Mex that you're used to seeing. And that's not even mentioning the amazing differences in religion and wider culture you're bound to encounter – chanting Buddhist monks in place of village vicars, perhaps?
And while those huge shifts are important to the traveling nomad, it's also true that globetrotting can infuse whole new meanings into even the teensiest, weeniest little aspect of life. Yep, trust us. You'll soon be pointing out street signs or highlighting the way folk drive. You'll be discovering new ways to say hello and watching with wonder at high-tech street loos that are so nifty you'll want a selfie (we're looking at you Japan!).
You'll Learn To Be Humbler About Your Own Way Of Living
It's hardly a surprise that travelers are often the best people watchers. After all, they have the most varied, most interesting, most divergent set of people to watch. There'll be airport goers in Chicago's O'Hare one morning and Costa Rican tequila drinkers in the evenings. There'll be Londoner yuppies one moment and Thai tuk-tuk drivers the next.
It's that sort of smorgasbord of cultural viewing that helps you to realize just how different the world is. Geography and culture spill over borders and slosh like waves, they're never stable, rarely the same. Always interesting.
The final realization is that there's no prescribed way you should be living your life. Yep, you might have been raised to think that a 7am start, a morning brew, a commute and an evening gym session are the correct way to do things. Why wouldn't you? Everyone does that where you're from. Then comes the Indian camel rider or the Balinese rice farmer, and days spent galumphing over the dunes of the Rann of Kutch or picking plants in misty mud fields under a smoke-belching volcano. They help you see a different life, albeit through the window of travel.
It Will Give You That Deep Connection With The Earth You're Craving
No matter whether it’s a short hop to another state for a glimpse at Nevada's carved canyons or a globetrotting adventure to discover misty rainforests where sloths creep and multi-colored parrot-like birds flit through the canopies, every trip has its own way of revealing the wonders of the natural world.
Just by packing the bags and going somewhere new are you making a statement. It says: "I'm curious about other places on the planet". And rarely does the planet give a disappointing rebuttal. Trust us. We've gone from Southeast Asia to Central America, from hidden tropical islands to cities in the shadow of mighty mountain ranges to find it out for ourselves.
The moment you get what you've gone in search of you'll start building your own deeper connection with the eco side of the Earth. One glimpse of the snow-topped Himalaya and you'll never see another summit in the same way again. One walk on the cotton-white sands of the Andaman coast and you'll really know what people mean when they say 'tropical paradise'. One dive in the reefs of the Caribbean and you'll be forever aware of what multi-colored wonders lurk beneath the waves.
Once you're gifted with all that, it's also likely you'll be more committed to saving it all. You'll know about the dangers facing coral gardens first-hand. You'll have seen the ugliness of plastic on picture-perfect beaches. You'll have come face-to-face with the horrors of deforestation. You'll become vested in the planet; a player in the environment, no longer just a watcher on.
It Will Give You That Deep Connection With Other People You're Craving
The natural world is just half the story when it comes to getting deeper connections from travel. Garnering a love for humans of all shapes, sizes, faiths, creeds, colors and sorts also comes from hopping around the globe.
A gap yearer can encounter everyone from dreadlocked Rastafarians to orange-robed Cambodian monks to Indian meditation gurus to Aussie outbackers to Argentinian tango dancers in just a year. And that's being conservative judging by some of the audacious itineraries we've seen.
What's more, the transient nature of globetrotting jaunts means making friends on the road is a noticeably quicker process than if, say, you were simply moving to another city. Just take your average LBW tour group – they might begin as strangers who wouldn't say a word when passing each other on the street back at home, but they ALWAYS end like BFFs with a million selfies and what seems like a lifetime of memories behind them.
If you can take that from your travel experiences and replicate it across your whole life, you’re bound to find you make connections with other folks much easier. You'll find you’re more empathetic to their characters, likes and dislikes. And that you end up with a wayyyy higher friend count on Facebook than you had before you packed the rucksack and went.
It Will Give You That Deep Connection With The Yourself You're Craving
It's been said before that travel is the moment that the outside world talks to the inside world. Now that might sound a little ethereal and wet, but it makes just a little sense, too. Consider this: How could you ever know what sort of things you like or love or hate or admire in the world if you've never encountered them?
Go down that avenue and you realize that what you're actually saying when you say any of the above is that you like or love or hate or admire something within the category of things you have experienced. Example? You can't say you abhor spring rolls if you've never had them, right? You can't say you don't enjoy waterslides if you've never ridden one.
Empathy might go a long way here, but you'll never beat actually getting out there and experiencing stuff. When you return, your travels are bound to have revealed a whole new wide world of adventure, spiritualism, alternative lifestyles, outlooks – you name it. And it's from that wider understanding of the planet and the people around you that you can really start to understand who you are, what you like and what it is you want to do with the time that's given to you. (Cheers Gandalf for that last line…)
It Will Make You Unafraid To Make Self-Improvements
"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better" - so ring the immortal words of one Ralph Waldo Emerson. You might know the essayist as a favourite of the travel bloggers; a regular on lists of the top quotes to send that wanderlust into overdrive. Others will know him as one of America's most iconic philosophers, modern thinkers and lecturers.
Either way, the point he's making is one travelers will know all too well. Hitting the road isn't just about finding a pleasant spot on a beach, laying the towel and soaking up the rays. We'll leave all that for the holidaymakers. It's more about deserting the world you know for one you don't. That takes guts. And it never – or, at least, rarely – goes smoothly.
But who would want it to? Who would want a trip through India that doesn't come with a dodgy tuk-tuk and a spell of Delhi belly. Who would want a Costa Rican hiking expedition without the occasional drenching of monsoon rains and soaked clothes. Who would want an Interrail itinerary with every train running smoothly from London to Sarajevo. Who would want a Bali surf day without a wipe-out on the swells?
It might sound odd but those are the things that make the travel experience an experience. And they are what turn it into an exercise in self-reflection, self-improvement and self-awareness, showing you your ups, your downs, how you react to stressful situations and how much you can enjoy the highs.
Oh, and there are highs by the way. Plenty to balance all of the above and then some…
We know we go on some hefty lot about just how awesome travel is. Sorry, we can't help it. In fact, we hate to wrap this one up here – we could go on for a whole extra thesis on just how many ways getting out there and exploring can help you see the world in a better way and live life to the full. There's really no need though, is there? We bet you’re only still reading because you're pining to feel it for yourself right now!
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"Rich is a traveler, writer and filmmaker who's always after somewhere new to go. He's been hopping around the globe since 2011, from Poland to Paris, Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh. He runs several travel sites of his own, from Ski Eastern to Live Krakow to Crabs Move Sideways. When he's not planning his next trip, he's usually listening to 50s jazz, surfing in Wales, skiing in the Alps, or just swigging (too much) great craft beer."
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