8 Lessons You Only Learn by Travelling

by | Jul 26, 2019

Travelling is often associated with a holiday, and holidays are usually recreational and fun, as they should be. For many, it’s an ideal way to have an escapade from the strenuous life that governs our day to day. 

Pull apart the surface layers of excitement and fun, however, and you’ll start to see that there’s a lot more to travelling than simply soaking up the sun on white beaches or stuffing your face with the best street eats. 

There is much value in travelling, other than the joy of leaving our mundane lives here for a short moment. Here are 10 lessons that you can only learn by travelling the world. 

1. Embracing Life Outside of Comfort Zones

It’s natural to settle into a comfort zone when all you know are your daily rituals. We fall into a routine that we grow readily comfortable in, and balk at the idea of pushing ourselves past what we’re comfortable with. 

We travel to countries not unlike our own, wrapping ourselves with a sense of familiarity in an otherwise foreign landscape. For your next trip, however, consider countries where the cultures and heritage are markedly different – such as India, or Vietnam.

Whether is it or bungee jumping in New Zealand or crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels of Ho Chi Minh City, travelling is a great opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and experience things you otherwise would not. 

2. Valuing Experiences Over Possessions

A friend once told me that you should pay for experiences and not for material goods. We buy souvenirs and mementos from the various places we visit as a keepsake to remind us of our time there. 

These keepsakes are more than just mere physical possessions. What makes them valuable are the memories and experiences that are imbued within. These experiences live with you for a lifetime and have the power to shape your thoughts and beliefs. 

So, maybe the next time you’re thinking of splurging on that expensive bag or pair of shoes, channel that money instead into a trip to Bhutan or South Africa and be ready to get blown away.

3. Adapting to Changes

If you’ve travelled before, you’ll know that the best laid plans do not always work out. That specialty restaurant you came for is closed. Your hotel messed up your booking. You flight gets cancelled.

In that moment, when you’re stuck in unfamiliar territory, where there’s nothing for you to lean on, the situation calls for you to adapt and change your plans when necessary.

But go with the flow and you’ll be surprised at how often a change in plan leads to something even better! 

4. Appreciating Things at Home

It’s very easy to take the things we have for granted. Whether it is air-conditioning or just proper tables and chairs, it’s easy to overlook how easy we get the things we use on a daily basis. 

Singaporeans’ favourite pastime may well be complaining about the faults that happen with our public transport system, in particular with our trains. Our annoyance with the train system is ironically born out of the rather smooth and efficient operation over the years. 

In some parts of the world, however, all of the above can be a luxury. Take the UK for example, where trains breaking down daily, happens to be the norm. In poorer countries, institutions like schools with proper classroom equipment are not a given as well. 

In our travels, we will often come across things that make us appreciate the little things we have back at home. 

5. Broadening Your Perspective

When we grow up in our homes for all our lives, we grow accustomed to the going ons and the way things work around us. Our entire worldview, what we know, and how we understand the world are inevitably confined to the boundaries set by our social environment.

When you’re exploring the world, you’ll be exposed to a host of varying practices, viewpoints, and cultures, all of which will challenge your preconceptions of the world.

For one, you may think of the Middle East as a chaotic and dangerous place, and to a certain extent in some parts, that’s true. But the Middle East is also home to one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places in the world. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the most stunning architecture you will come across.

8. Watching the World Come to Life

Textbooks are excellent in relaying the timeline and history of various civilisations and countries, and travel books often detail the various adventures people have on their escapades. 

With all that said, it’s one thing to read and study about the various cultures all around the world in a book, it’s another thing to experience it for yourself. Revel in the beauty of the timeless shrines and temples of Japan, or participate in the fiery and lively festivals of Spain, it’s an otherworldly experience.

9. Learning More About Yourself

It’s almost always in that second as you’re waiting for the sunrise or sunset, or overlooking a calm body lake, when the world goes quiet that you start to think about your journey in life. In that moment, looking at the beautiful landscape before you is when you start to think retrospectively. 

Through the many curveballs you encounter and situations your travels place you in, you start to understand who you are, what you’re comfortable with, and how you can grow. 

10. Understanding How Big the World is

As Gustav Flaubert opined, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” You can really only grasp an understanding of how miniscule you are compared to the world through travelling, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. 

Often times we think the problems we face are so immense that we just don’t see how we can get through the night. On your travels, you’ll see fantastical landscapes, meet wonderful people, see how they live and go about their daily lives. 

The nitty gritty of life back home or even during your trip suddenly gives way to the beautiful canvas of the world. When you start to see yourself as a citizen of the world, that’s when you’ll realise you’re part of something much much bigger than yourself. 

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