“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Traveling changed my life. I can’t be less dramatic than that; it certainly did. I backpacked for months around Europe and by the time I came back home I was a new man. It was a before and after moment in my life.
I came back as a better person. I progressed and improved. It was as if I had lived for a few years in just those couple of months. Since then I recommend everyone to take some time off studies or work and go out to the see world.
I changed and you can change. Here are the biggest lessons and biggest progresses I made when traveling:
1- Social phenomenon.
Before I set forth for my first trip I had never been a very social person. I had never had many friends and hardly took the center stage; I was just one more guy. That, though, changed in a blast after the first experiences abroad. I totally transformed.
How was this possible? It’s simple: it’s a law of numbers. I met so many people on the road that I practiced more conversation that I would do in a lifetime back home. I was traveling alone after all: it’s speaking or dying of loneliness. I gave a try to the first and the results can easily be seen.
And traveling alone is not such, as in the end you are always around people. If you are not in the mood of starting a conversation someone else will; it just happens. You don’t even have to put that much effort: let things flow and the results will come alone. Few times did I go for dinner alone or took a long distance trip without meeting someone.
Let yourself flow, but be wise. When traveling you’ll have the best atmosphere to practice your speaking, charisma and social skills. See what works, what doesn’t, what makes you more friends, what doesn’t make you, etc and calibrate accordingly. I assure you that by city number ten you’ll be a much better speaker than you were before.
Exactly the same happens with seduction. After meeting so many people and partying so much it will be inevitable for you to fall in love with someone (or having someone fall in love with you.) It’s the law of numbers again. Couple it with calibration and you are all set. After my trips I transformed into the guy all girls want to be with it. It didn’t happen just because: I did more socializing and met more women in those few months that I had on the rest of my life altogether.
2- Shock of maturity.
I like to think about traveling as an odyssey. It was no less than that for me: it was a quest for myself. On the way this quest takes the best of you out, improves you and makes you more mature. Maturity was especially significant for me: I was, for the first time, far away from my family and friends. My closest acquaintance was a few thousand kilometers away.
That was a big shock of responsibility. I realized that I was alone in the world for real. That demanded a lot from me. I had for the first time to really take care of my money and belongings, plan budgets and to really be careful with my time. Sometimes a small mistake can really fuck things up, you got to be really wise. I took it lightly and didn’t want to dramatize, but I met people who were totally overwhelmed.
Being there made me also think much more maturely. It made me see the world differently and to think much deeper than I was used to. Again, this was also inevitable. The experiences were so many and so huge that it was like living for years in just months. I started to think about new things, ideas and projects. I paid attention to other things and philosophized more than I had done in a lifetime.
3- Learning skills.
Learning is the biggest part of traveling. When you travel you’ll learn things that go beyond traditional personal development. From socializing to languages, you’ll learn different series of skills that will make you a better person. Which skill to learn depends on you, but my examples are:
Before I traveled I didn’t even know how to boil water. I was that ignorant. After months on the road and living alone for a long time I became an avid chef aficionado. Whatever you can imagine, I can cook it. Maybe not that much… But I certainly learned to love the arts of cooking and will produce the best dishes travelers around will find. Guys, I even travel with a Spices Kit, eh.
And learning to cook goes beyond the pleasure of a good meal. It’s an opportunity to relax, socialize and share a moment with your new friends. It’s good vibe and I recommend anyone embarking on a trip to do it.
Traveling is the best way of learning a language. Settle down for a month or two at some place and if you put enough effort your foreign languages will improve a lot. I made sure to make the most of wherever I was.
In Italy, for example, I would go to the piazza and speak with the old ladies. In Austria I started working for the Eurocup 2008 and learned the language while watching the most exciting football games. In Greece I started working as chef in Paros, a paradisiacal island, and learned my little Greek there. I found it a lot of fun and it’s something great for professional and personal life.
It’s true that on the road most people you’ll meet will speak English. Most of the world does. But a language goes beyond sole speaking… It’s a mechanism to achieve deeper connections with different cultures and different people. That’s what makes the learning special!
The skills you’ll learn depend on you. Some learn to knit, some to draw, to write, to dance… The possibilities are endless. Just take one or two and focus on them.
4-Become someone international.
From Japan to Russia and from Iceland to Australia, it’s hard for me to think about a place where I don’t know someone. I met so many people while traveling that it’s just normal. I love it; it’s something beautiful and one of the things I treasure the most about traveling.
These new friendships would be almost impossible at home. But they are a reality and what made me discover a lot about my own personality and the world itself.
But being international it’s also about culture. You’ll learn so much about history that you’ll open your mind to a whole lot of new possibilities. If you are a little bit nerd as I am the amount of museums and the different cultures you’ll see will make travel literally heaven for you. And, even if you are not, the likes of the British Museum, The Louvre or the Acropolis are a huge inspiration to anyone with a bit of brains
5- You are going to become a dreamer
And last, it’s on this moment when you start to dream. Once you meet people and hear about their own quests and adventures you’ll get an overwhelming inspiration. You’ll hear stories and anecdotes that are so amazing that you won’t want to settle for a conventional life.
You’ll hear about feats long thought impossible, discover unconventional lifestyles and meet people that could be easily called living legends. The more you travel, the more people you’ll meet and the most inspired you will. That’s the biggest legacy these trips will leave inside you.
Once you try it you won’t want to let it go.
One doesn’t travel to run away from reality. On the contrary, it’s a quest to find your own, to find all what you believe in. It’s a way to let it all go out. It’s an odyssey to find which is the path you want to take in life.
It will all leave an inerasable mark in your soul. When you get back home, you will never be the same.