Like most people, I enjoy traveling and as of lately, I’ve been flying everywhere for conferences. As a result, I’ve had some time to do some much-needed self reflections. Seeing a change of environment and exploring new places always excites me. I’ve always felt blessed that I’ve been to so many places at such a young age and as a result, a large part of my identity is the product of my travels.
I always thought the value of traveling was seeing new things: meeting different people, learning about other cultures, being exposed to new ideas. Traveling would broaden your scope of the world and help you think differently. After each trip, I feel like I’ve learnt something new and understood something more about the world. Recently though, I’ve noticed that traveling is as much about seeing new things as it is about seeing familiar things with new eyes.
Whenever humans inhabit a place for a long time, we end up creating a set of habits and daily routines. As a result of being creatures of habits, we like to do certain things the same way every day. We designate a place to study, a place to eat, and a place to relax. We establish bathroom rituals, whether it’s brushing your teeth after breakfast or flossing only at night. These daily habits are so ingrained to our everyday living that we don’t think about them. Eventually, we don’t think about what we are doing, we do it out of familiarity.
Traveling shakes things up. It is a break from our daily routines. Being in a new place removes us from our accustomed lifestyles, and forces us to think over actions. Our brain’s auto-pilot becomes obsolete. If in a new city, you will have to figure out where things are, how to get around and things you want to do. When looking for lunch, you have to actively think, look for and evaluate places to eat. Through removing yourself from your usual surrounding, you give thought to decisions that would normally would not.
By stepping away from your everyday routine life, traveling gives you a chance to see your own life more clearly. You notice the little habits, preferences and mindless actions you do each day. From a distance, you can see the bigger picture of your life. What directions you are heading in, what you spend your time doing, how your actions impact you. From traveling, you get to know more about the world while getting to know thyself. Therein lies the value of traveling; it is both a journey of the external, and internal world.