How Long-Term Travel Changes
Your Perspective on Life
When I returned back home from my 8 month trip through South East Asia, I felt like I was caught in the middle of a time-lapse in the busy city of Amsterdam.
Everyone was caught up in the busy city life and looked on their phones like they were following instructions. And the worst, I knew I would be part of this human time-lapse soon as well.
However, this time it would be different, I had baggage full of great experiences, lessons learned and unforgettable moments that will stay with me forever. Being more aware of my surroundings and being more open-minded to different cultures. I would always stay aware that the world has so much more to offer than the things we see in our daily lives.
In this article, I’m going to share how I got to this new perspective...
Learning about different cultures
The most interesting thing about traveling abroad is the people you meet from different cultures. Take for example the hill tribe people in Sa Pa. They still wear and wave their traditional clothings, work their entire lives at the farm where they feed their animals and take care of the rice fields.
Traditions and family are still very important to them and you can clearly see that children still play a central role in these communities. You will see the children playing everywhere on the streets and always being around when you meet a hill-tribe family.
Visiting places like Sa Pa, where you meet tribes that still live according to old traditions is something very rare and special. It also makes you wonder why they still stick to these old traditions. However, when you see how happy they can be with the little they have, it also makes you wonder why our way of living is any better…
One of the reasons why this little hill town isn’t so much affected by western influences yet is because there is no airport and not much infrastructure. It almost takes half a day to travel from Hanoi to Sapa, but luckily there is also a night train that brings you close to this gorgeous destination in the North of Vietnam. Definitely, a recommended place to visit if you want to meet people who are still very attached to their traditional culture!
Adopting new values and habits to your own life
Like the journey above, it’s not always effortless to travel to your new destination.
Sometimes you need to wait for hours on the bus to your next destination. Or it can easily take up to an hour before you get your food served in a restaurant.
Next time you have to wait 10min on the bus, you will think back about the experience of your travel. You will actually start to appreciate that the bus was on time all the other times. And realize that 10 minutes of waiting doesn’t harm anyone.
Instead, enjoy that moment of waiting and come back to yourself and do for example some short meditation exercises.
Another thing you will learn about traveling is the importance of food in all cultures. We are sometimes so much in a rush that we only have a short hour to have dinner after we come back from work and before we go to the gym or our next meeting obsessed with predictable revenue.
When traveling abroad, you’ll see that many people actually still take all the time to enjoy dinner. Or even more important: they see every meal as an opportunity to come together with family and friends and foster their relationships.
When you are back home, think about inviting your friends or family at least once every week and spend some quality time with them instead of seeing relationships distancing further away.
Meeting inspiring people
When traveling for several months, you will likely meet some very interesting people. Some people will have a similar background to you, while others live a completely different life.
During my travels, I met several interesting people who gave up their 9 to 5 job, sold everything and started to live in a simple hut close to the beach. They had electricity only for a few hours a day and lived without 4G or wifi.
A way of life I couldn’t live myself, but it’s fascinating to learn why some people decide to live this way. Listening to these stories makes you rethink your own habits. We are sometimes too addicted to the phone, which only brings us further from away from living our lives and being aware of our surroundings.
Step out of your daily life and think about what you value most in life
Although I said I wouldn’t like to live without the internet or electricity my entire life, it’s actually one of the best moments of my long-term travel, when I experienced this for a few days.
When you are on long-term travel, try to live a few days or weeks without the internet and you will notice you actually don’t miss as much as you think by not using your phone. Soon, you’ll start to become more aware of your surroundings. You won’t experience the constant stimulus from your phone what will help you to become more relaxed and let your mind calm down.
Wake up with the first light of the day, watch the sunrise, cook yourself breakfast and spend your day swimming in the ocean, making a beach walk or reading your favorite book. At the end of the day, you watch a magnificent sunset while you look back on a lovely day where you didn’t experience even a single moment of stress.
After a few days, you will unconsciously start to reflect on your life back home and think about the things you appreciate most in life. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family, your friends or realize you haven’t spoken to one of your former best friends for a long time.
This self-invented mini-retreat for your mind is also a perfect moment to reflect on your job situation back home. Are you satisfied with everything your job has to offer you and will this position lead you to the place where you want to be in 10 or 20 years?
Maybe it’s time to ask your boss for a change in position or even start to look for new opportunities outside your current company if you are not satisfied with your current situation. Or maybe there is this job that you only dared to dream of, but never took the actual steps to make this job closer to reality.
This is the moment to reflect on your life and think about what things in life make you most happy.
Live life like never before
I could go along forever with reasons why to go on a long term trip, but in the end, the most important thing is that you make this one of the best times of your life.
You will see gorgeous places, meet hundreds of interesting people and get time to relax and let the daily stress of back home disappear with every new day of your wonderful journey.
When returning home after your trip, you’ll feel re-energized, ready for a fresh start and be more aware of your daily routines and habits.
Bio of GeckoRoutes:
GeckoRoutes is an online travel guide for transportation and activities in South East Asia. Their detailed guides explain step-by-step how to get from A to B for hundreds of different routes. Visit their website to start saving lots of time and money on your next trip to South East Asia.