The Travel Writer's Journey

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The Importance of Travel for Personal Development

Posted on April 30, 2015 at 12:30 PM

By David Mansaray

As often as possible, I try to get away because I know travel can be a powerful tool for personal development. I recently went for a short break in Italy and ever since I got back I’ve been thinking about how exactly travel benefits me. Here are some of my thoughts:

Without Travel, You Can’t Really Know The Place You’re From

If you’ve not been fortunate to travel, this may sound a little strange. How can travel help me know the place I’m from? That’s the question I asked a few years ago when I was told this would be the case. The reply I got was: ‘you’ll see’. Well, now I see.

I’ve realised that we all – to a certain degree - take things for granted. Some of the things include food, electricity, transport, heating and safety. Going to a country where these basics are not always available is a real eye opener.

I’ve seen how people struggle in Africa with my own two eyes, and it made me realise how much I took for granted. Compared to the millions living in poverty, my life is incredibly comfortable. Travel brought this to my attention in a way the media couldn’t, and because of this realisation I appreciate my life a lot more.

Of course, travel can enlighten you about so many other things in your environment, like the attitudes of people, quality of food, cultural behaviour, differences in fashion and much, much more. As strange as it may sound, going far helps you understand what’s near a lot better.

Travel Helps Us Let Go of False Beliefs

A ‘belief’ is something we consider as ‘true’. To me, for something to be ‘true’ means it’s a reflection of reality.

Then the question is: how can we be sure if something is a reflection of reality?

Simple: personal experience

If you take a moment to think about the things you believe about, let’s say, Japan. The fact is that unless you’ve been to Japan, all of your beliefs were formed through what you’ve heard from a person, or a form of media.

You can’t be sure if what you hear is true, nor can you be sure that you’ll hold the same opinion as your sources. This is where travel comes into the picture.

Travel can help you unravel many false beliefs. Many go something like this: Americans are this, Spaniards are that, Italians are so…, Africans always…, French people are the most… etc.. etc…

It’s easy to accept someone-else’s opinion as you own without even realising it. I find it helpful to ask myself why I believe what I believe, and If the belief hasn’t been formed by my own experience, I know I need clarification. Travel is always a good option.

Travel Helps Us Know Ourselves Better

I travelled to Spain last summer with the intention of improving my Spanish. I expected to learn a lot about the language, but to my surprise, I learnt more about myself. Most people live life caught up in a routine, and this can make it difficult to find time for reflection.

As an individual dedicated to becoming the best version of myself, it’s essential for me to step back to look at myself so that I can evaluate my strengths and weaknesses.  Although it’s not the only answer, (or the cheapest) again, travel can help.

(It’s worth noting that I’m particularly talking about solo travel. )

Stepping into a new environment has a way of revealing things about yourself. You may discover that you’re more shy, more confident, more open, more friendly or more cautious than you thought you were. In my case, I discovered that I’m sometimes over-confident. This discovery helped me re-evaluate the way I approach some situations and as a result I made a big leap on my journey of growth.

In this article I’ve only mentioned three ways travel can help us grow. I’m certain there are hundreds or possibly thousands of ways travel can help.

So tell me, how has travel helped you on your journey of personal growth?

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