Many travel writers have provided vivid, anecdotal proof that traveling can change one's life. Travel is portrayed as an adventure that will certainly lift your spirits, change your perspective, and leave you with a smile on your face — and possibly a calf on a leash — in books like Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" and timeless films like "City Slickers." Who hasn't been seduced by the exotic travel's potential for transformation? In his trip book "Geography of Bliss," Eric Weiner says, "I've always felt that bliss is just around the corner. The key is finding the right corner."
You may be on the correct path if you're making turns outside of your comfort zone in the aim of achieving personal development. There are a number of reasons why travel does, in fact, provide a favorable environment for personal growth. When we travel, we anticipate change that we don't anticipate at home; we eagerly take the travel pill in the hope that it would infuse our veins with personal development. Before we even go, we have already made a mental commitment and left ourselves open to change.
Other elements also make it simpler for us to alter our behavior while traveling. You are completely cut off from the regular influences when you travel, especially if you do it alone. You can experiment with new behaviors because no one will give you the side-eye if you behave differently than normal. Travel writer William Least Heat-Moon once remarked, "When you're traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don't have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road."
Not only that, but your emotions are stimulated and your senses are also enhanced. You notice things you wouldn't normally smell, hear, or see at home. Simple tasks like ordering meals in a language you hardly understand, locating a market, and hailing a cab cause you stress and anxiety. You are susceptible to change because of these things. Additionally, they place you in a situation where you must act differently in order to fulfill your basic requirements. Since you need food to survive, being proactive becomes necessary rather than voluntary. What other ways does travel facilitate human development?
There is a distinction between travel and tourism, as purist travelers can attest. And that distinction might even have an impact on how transformative of an impact your journey will have. Paul Fussell, a well-known literary historian, claims that tourists go to "pseudo-places" like airports, hotels, and shops that offer things that aren't actually from the area. Even though they are traveling to a distant country, they are fed the familiar food. Travelers, on the other hand, go to actual "places," which, in Fussell's words, are "strange and call for interpretation." Contrary to tourism, travel offers misadventure and an exhilarating dose of the foreign.
According to Fussell's definitions of travel and tourism, travel is more powerful in terms of transformation than tourism. While misadventure and discomfort can affect the traveler, they rarely, if ever, affect the tourist. Additionally, researchers claim that a person is more likely to be affected by a trip if they experience a greater degree of isolation, anxiety, and solitude while there. Consider integrating the following components in your itinerary if you want your vacation to have the capacity to transform you:
- a location that is entirely different from your home, where you partake in entirely foreign activities
- lots of interaction and dialogue with residents of the country being visited
- distancing yourself from your typical influences will allow you to try out new behaviors.
- Time for daily reflection on what you've learnt, either through group discussion or journaling.
- Post-trip exercises that encourage you to keep thinking about what you learnt during your trip
You might be stretched in ways you didn't expect, and you might start to see your home society and your host society in a different light if, for instance, you travel to a foreign country and stay with a host family for home-cooked meals and conversation that is strained by a language barrier. On the following page, you may read more about how travel can alter you.
Is There Evidence That It Changes Us?
As one may anticipate, research demonstrates that assimilating into a new cultural structure can extend one's perspective. For instance, a study on study abroad programs in the University System of Georgia revealed that after studying abroad, students scored higher on tests of intercultural learning skills than a control group of students who had never traveled overseas. They demonstrated a solid comprehension of how, for example, one's responses and interactions with others could alter depending on one's cultural environment. Additionally, a different study on a Lesley University study abroad trip to Cuba revealed that students questioned the accuracy of American news stories about the country and still felt a connection to it 11 months after their return.
Adventure challenges, service excursions, study abroad opportunities, and spiritual pilgrimages are among the popular travel destinations for those seeking life-changing travel experiences. And they frequently travel into the wild. How successful are these forays into the woods at bringing about long-term personal change? A survey of National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) participants found that even five years after their two-week or 30-day wilderness expeditions with the organization, NOLS graduates attributed their experiences with growing their levels of confidence and assisting them in coping with challenging situations in their current lives. They praised NOLS for giving them enduring leadership abilities, teamwork abilities, and a "personal viewpoint on how life may be simpler."
But not every journey that has the potential to change you actually does. For instance, a study of Outward Bound participants revealed that while they valued their time spent with the group, they struggled to maintain any personal changes once they returned home. And research on how holidays effect happiness levels has repeatedly demonstrated that glee levels peak while on vacation and then abruptly decline thereafter. However, a different study did find that tourists reported fewer physical concerns five weeks after their visits than they had before. And even if the life-changing impacts of travel fade days, months, or even years after the trip, there is always the option to look for another travel chance to once more enhance one's life.