It’s immensely popular to travel right now. People have in their hearts and minds that traveling will do something wonderful for them—unlocking some hidden doors into their best life. They pack their rolling luggage with all the travel accessories, Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes, and Exofficio underwear it can hold and make way to wander—looking for adventure. And while the desire for journeying isn't necessarily a wrong thing, travel can be hard. It’s not often as glamorized as people say it is.
Sure, sipping smoothies in Bali one day and eating street food in Thailand the next is pretty incredible. But, there are some bigger picture things to consider when traveling about the impact it has both on you and the people around you. Things that will help you make sure that, when you travel, you’re doing so well.
And to be fair, I’ve traveled a whole lot in the last couple years. And I’ve seen a whole lot of people doing it poorly. And I’ve done so poorly. But there are some ways you can make sure your travel is excellent.
You’d honor me to consider the following:
Take Time to Mentally and Emotionally Process
Build in time to process all the things that have happened while you’ve been taking in new information on a voracious clip. When so many new cultures and circumstances and interactions flood your mind, it is best to take time to assimilate that information into what you already know about the world and push the boundaries of your paradigms when necessary. Sometimes this looks like intentional thinking, while other times it just looks like resting and letting your subconscious take care of the rest. If you don’t take this time, it can have a negative impact on you, causing you to be overwhelmed until you take your foot off the gas and just sit.
Honor the Culture You’re Visiting
You bring your culture with you wherever you go. Many people don’t check this to keep tabs on it when they enter another culture. And that causes problems, because you are in their culture and it’s up to you to see what that means before you are boisterously or subtly offensive to your guests. Besides being polite, this it the proper way to truly learn from other cultures. The practice of attempting to blend in to other cultures can be a great catalyst for personal growth.
Don’t Travel to Get Away From Your Problems
Travel can be very healing. If you need to get away— to think, to dream, to be inspired—go for it. But it’s not a bandaid that can cover up problems that you don’t want to deal with. If you use it as that, you’re always going to need a bigger bandaid because of the visibly growing wounds you’re neglecting. But travel will never be enough to cover those wounds. So, do yourself—and everyone around you a favor—and deal with your hurts. Even if they’re old. Even if you think you’re “fine.” Evaluate your motives. And vigorously question what you find there.
Have Actual Purpose for Your Travels
Beyond not having unhealthy goals, also have specific ones. Do you want to spend time in cafes writing your novel? Do you want to experience new cultures? Do you want to lose yourself in new cultures? Do you want to see sights? What do you want? Try and match that up with who you are and what you generally need—in the everyday—to thrive. Build that into your goals and allow your trip to be something that is life-giving to you instead of going crazy doing things that don’t naturally give you what you need to live healthily and excellently.
Plant Yourself Somewhere
Travel is wonderful—and for some (extreme few) it is something that can be made into a lifestyle that suits them and is healthy in the long run. But even so, everyone needs community. Everyone needs a place (or places) to belong. And while going “elsewhere” to go and do and explore and be unencumbered can all be great, there’s nothing greater than being a part of a whole that makes you better and more valuable than yourself.