People often ask me a question, which otherwise may sound so simple and direct, but when attempted an answer, becomes no less than a tiring puzzle. I find myself struggling to give a clear, calculated reply, not because I get confused but because of the fact that its answer lies somewhere in the whirlpool of possibilities…
Years of continuous travel, feeling unsatisfied and more curious than ever, and what did I get in return?
I mean I’ve been travelling full-time since 2015, swooping down different places, learning new ideas, adopting new philosophies. But what is it that I’ve learned in particular?
So attempting the answer once again, here I go with a bit more explanation this time. Years of uninterrupted travelling, and here is what I’ve learned:
Travelling Taught Me How lucky I am
Since I’ve started travelling I’ve been to many places, both inside and outside of India, and I’ve come across the most abject poverty imaginable. I am not rich, not even by the Indian standards, but I’ve never found myself struggling for my next meal or worrying about a bed in the night. During my recent trip to the eastern part of Tamil Nadu, I ended up twisting my ankle, restricting my movements for a few days. I remember feeling agitated and incredibly sorry for myself until a man said to me “The man with no shoes feels lucky besides the man with no feet”. And that says it all. If you’re privileged enough to be reading this, with your wifi and a computer, despite feeling anxious or a little sad for a few things, you’re still lucky. Forget everything else.
Travelling brings you across such incidents in your life that you start appreciating life a little more. And out of all the reasons to start travelling, the fact that it teaches you to appreciate life a little more is the most significant one.
Travelling Taught Me We Are All The Same
During travelling, meeting new people becomes an everyday thing. Every now and then you make a new friend. From Buddhists to Muslims to Hindus – you meet them all, not to mention people with every skin colour imaginable. Your values may differ from theirs, but when you engage in a conversation with someone, you realize how we’re all coming from the same place, and are, after all, not so different. You share similar jokes you had learned in school. You realise that you want to hug and cry over the same things as other people around you. Different cultural background and different religion don’t make us different. We are all the same.
Travelling Taught Me That Life Is About So Much More Than Just Money
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page” Saint Augustine
When you travel through small towns and villages and watch different communities being utterly satisfied, despite having no more than what a single family owned in a big city around you, you realize how life is so much more than just having iPhones and iPads. We only need to learn to re-calibrate what’s important in life, and travelling does that for us.
Travelling Taught Me How Wealth And Material Goods Have Spoiled Me
It pains me to admit this but I’ve seen a direct correlation between the wealth of a place I visit and the level of selfishness in its people. Every time I end up in a place far off from the crowded boundaries of New Delhi, I find it easier to seek help — that if I’m in need, I’m more likely to be taken under someone’s wing.
I’ve personally felt that you’re more likely to be rescued from a bad situation in a place, where people are poorer than in a place where everyone is wealthy and seemingly self-satisfied. And that’s a big shame.
Travelling Taught Me That Happiness Is Only True When Shared
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared” Buddha
Travel makes you humble and teaches you the art of sharing. When you travel with others, even those you had just met in a hostel yesterday and share your food with them, you build a character, a more humble self. And this helps you find a better person inside you.
I mean if I talk about myself personally, I’ve become a much more compassionate and humble person. I now tend to help others more eagerly than I ever did before because I’ve myself been helped by so many people while travelling. Now, by helping others, whenever I get a chance, I believe I am just sort of repaying the loan.
So yea, travelling is broadening of mind incomparable to reading a book or watching a documentary. Once you engage with a foreign culture, whether it is sharing a meal with a local or attending a cultural function, you gain a larger perspective on the world outside your head.
“Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions” Peter Hoeg
Though it’s a different thing that different people collect different learning from same experiences. Some are more realistic to a point that they often find their realism blinding the subtleties of their mind and the beauty of the place. Yet others, far more philosophical, always find themselves sentimentally wrapped and living in their own realities. But that doesn’t matter. Because no matter what, you always end up learning something new. And that’s what travelling is all about.
Further Reading: Why Travelling India Is A Learning Experience