Having worked in the travel industry for nearly 5 years, everything can become a little numb. That hidden landscape you once saw now doesn’t seem to ‘wow’ you in the same way and arguably some of the most luxurious resorts in the world don’t make your eyes pop with delight – that is, until you hear about travelling from someone else. Then it’s a different ball game.
Every so often, where I work, I hear from those who’ve been travelling – young and old. No matter their age, it’s always a pleasure to hear them regale their stories and share experiences they never thought they’d have. But over the past couple of months, there have been two that have stuck with me, both of them older gentlemen. More importantly, both of them said exactly the same line to me;
Whatever you do, you must travel.
Do it while you still can and fulfil all of those wish-lists you have hidden away.
Their words, not mine.
They had a number of reasons why this was imparted so emotively and I felt duty bound to share them:
As regular people, we spend a lot of our life working. Whether we like it or not, we work increasingly longer hours for little more gain (if any) in often stressful environments, with people we don’t always get along with. This takes a toll on our health and our wellbeing over time. So it’s important to break the pattern every so often to refresh ourselves and reinvigorate our senses.
Both men weren’t saying this so you make a more valuable contribution to your workplace, it’s to make sure you’re doing right by you so it doesn’t come and bite you in later years. Travelling is the perfect way to take this break and make the most of it, immersing yourself in an alien surrounding and forcing yourself to think a little differently – about you.
Quite often, we can find ourselves in a situation we don’t want to be in but simply because we don’t have the time to really think about it. Not only is this bad for our mental health, it’s bad for our personal ambitions and goals. Taking a break, travelling and having the time to think is vital.
I’ve been in this position myself and was reminded of it by both men. I was once desperately unhappy in a previous job and relationship but because I never had the time to process it, I remained unhappy for far too long. It was a miserable year of my life which I’d recommend nobody else endure. After reassessing, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been – I’m more in touch with me (without that sounding corny), I know what I enjoy and I make informed decisions about my future. All we need do is give ourselves a little time to think it over.
What was clear from both gentlemen, was that they never had the time to really learn. They went to school but the teaching wasn’t really what they’d call ‘top-notch’, so they had resigned themselves to lives fed by manual jobs. That is until both of them found travelling vital to their ability to gain knowledge. They effectively returned to brand new lives. Part of these lives, were new jobs that had a wholly more human element to them.
They found that one of the best ways to gain knowledge whilst travelling was by volunteering. Both men I spoke to had done just this, don’t get me wrong, a lot of younger people I’d spoken to had also done the same. It’d taught them how to connect with other people which inadvertently changed their place in the jobs market they came back to. They wanted to make a difference in society and now had the skills and confidence to do it.
Second to the above point, is gaining new perspective. One of the best things about travelling is experiencing other countries and their cultures. Each person I have spoken to has had AT LEAST one experience abroad that has changed their life in some way, no matter how small. This point was brought home even more so when I saw Levison Wood speak about his travels along the Nile and Himalayas a few weeks ago – for him, as well as those I’ve spoken to, it’s all about human encounter.
Not only will you return from travelling with new skills and experiences, you’ll return with a different way of seeing the world, after making somewhere else your home for a little while. With this comes balance. You’ll be able to see things for what they are once you’ve returned and that ‘crisis’ you thought was oh-so-important, is actually a drop in the ocean compared to other peoples’ lives around the world. It really makes you re-think your priorities.
Between these two men, their advice was clear – it was to travel – because for both of them, not doing it would have meant regret. And to them, regret was the worst thing they’d experienced in their lives. Not guilt or sadness but regret. Interesting, huh?
Without meaning to sound morbid, they always left the conversation with words to the effect of life being too short. So many years down the line, they had been left feeling overwhelmed by all the choice there was in the world – so they wanted to experience as much of it as possible whilst they still could. They knew now that there were things they couldn’t do, like hike Machu Picchu, so their advice was to do it as soon as you can. After all, life is about memories, not things.
So, if your second-guessing that trip you’ve always wanted to take – just do it.