“I believe that travel is a teacher, one that wakes up your senses when you’re out of your comfort zone…It allows you to see the world with fresher eyes and realize that life doesn’t have to be a certain way. We could and can be better.”
-Jedidiah Jenkins, The Great Discontent.
Travelling has been an indispensable part of human evolution: wheels were invented by humans so that they could travel from one place to another, roads were constructed to make commute easier and the innovation has brought us to the stage where we can travel on the water and in the sky as well. It is because people travelled that societies have transformed, new discoveries have taken place, and the world has become bigger and better. Ancient philosophers and writers would actively use travel to gain knowledge and wisdom both about the world and about themselves. As Derek Walcott wrote, “I read; I travel; I become.”
With the advent of capitalism, ‘travel’ became an industry dictated by the norms of the marketing conventions of the day. Travelling became a luxury and media helped in portraying it as one. When the basic needs such as health and education could not get away from capitalism, how could travel escape? Something this sacred got reduced to a mere three nights/two days holiday package.
This idea of travelling as a consumerist troubled me; my inquisitiveness and curious mind made me use the old and authentic method of travelling. I quit my job and started travelling on a daily budget of Rs 300. Travel can shape your personality and your perspective towards life. I'm sharing with you the five ways in which you can travel to shape the best version of you.
- Travel as an observer: Become an observer and do not form opinions. Just observe the way people in this world do the same things differently. When someone hurts you, don't let your 'I' get offended. Observe it as a human behaviour to different situations. Such observations will make you poised, patient, and wise.
- Travel like a monk: A monk has no possessions, he doesn't even keep his left over food for the next day. He starts everyday as a new beginning. My suggestion is not to give up your earthly possessions for fruits and berries. Rather travel with minimal belongings and indulge in scant luxuries. The more layers and artifices you strip the more clearer your vision becomes. When you travel like a monk, you will learn who you are. You will be able to see yourself independent of your possessions. You will know yourself better.
- Travel solo: It will make you confident, independent, fearless, responsible, effective, and happy. You will become acquainted with the best and worst of your personality. You'll be able to see yourself more clearly. Immerse yourself in solitude while you experience the best of what nature has to offer. How can you come back unchanged?
- Travel to less known places: Writer G.K. Chesterton said, “The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” Do not do what everyone does. Seek a new place, meet the locals, and learn about the place. Find out why the place is not so popular. You'll learn that beauty is not what the popular media tells us. You'll learn that beauty actually lies in the eyes of the beholder. The serendipitous nature of your journey will guide you to a better life.
- Live like a native: Eat the food that the locals eat, live in their houses, drink the same water, and sleep in the same bed. Push yourself out of the constricted confines of a comfortable urban life. To reiterate an oft repeated cliché, life begins outside your comfort zone.
I have experienced the power of travelling in these five ways and my life has been renewed with its power. Don’t mix ‘holidays’and ‘vacations’ with eye opening, life fuelling, and mind cleansing travel. Treat travel like life’s classroom. What you will gain is a priceless education. It will stay with you long after the daffodils are no longer blooming.