Travelling is rewarding for sure. It makes us happy and lets us disconnect temporarily with our problems. Agreed.
But apart from these, travelling also helps us learn new life skills. It puts us in newer situations and circumstances and silently watches how we react and respond. When we’re in the same phase of life for months and years, we don’t make space for growth and evolution. I know this because I realized this last year.
I was someone who faced career stagnation for over two years without even realizing it. I was happy and leading a balanced life. But suddenly, when one of the magazines I was reading asked questioned me about the last time I learnt something new, I fell silent.I looked back and I realized I hadn’t learnt anything over the course of two years.
I wanted to move away from this space because I wasn’t comfortable coming to terms with it. I wanted to move out for a few days and rekindle my passion and zest for life. I hit the road. And when on it, I learnt a few life-changing skills.
In life, we are judgmental on a daily basis. We see somebody on our way to commute in the train or bus and instantly come up with a made-up personality about him or her in our mind. We are too quick to judge and too late to realize. These thought processes shape new stereotypes and involuntarily, we end up spreading hatred.
Trust me, hatred isn’t even the last thing we need on earth. When I traveled, I slowly inculcated the habit of being more open. Coming from a conservative family, accepting a few things which went against the societal norms was hard. But I realized that if they’re not causing harm to anyone, why to bother.
I once met a cab-driver who was also a serial entrepreneur. I had judged him initially for not being ambitious enough. It turned out, he was running a private cab business and was driving for the day to understand how he can differentiate his services. That day, I became a little more open-minded and a lot less judgmental, all in one go.
I have a desk job. I look at a screen, make my analysis and get done with the job for the day. I don’t have to go out and talk to people to get things done. Hence, as soon as I found myself travelling frequently, I found myself in strange waters.
Look – when you travel, things will go wrong. The train will be late. You will board the wrong bus. Or maybe, you will be on the wrong route. You will have to reach out to strangers and ask for help in all kinds.
I won’t say that you have to be an extrovert to do that, but at some point, your mind learns – I have to do this to reach the next stage. Hence, travelling has helped me become a more outgoing person who understands the power of clear communication at the right time.
I have been living with myself for a long time. That has helped me inculcate a habit of budgeting. That said, every now and then, I find myself stretching way beyond my budget.
Travelling for myself made me come to terms with it. I understood that I was going through a process of moral licensing – as soon as I would do something I was supposed to do, I take that as a license to do something I am not supposed to do. I traveled on shoe-string budgets and on cruise-liner budgets.
Both of these helped me understand the value of money and the importance of budgeting.Budgeting also makes you think about possible scenarios and pushes you to prepare for them. I bought my first travel insurance only because I was budgeting for the potential theft or loss of my luggage at the airport.
We say communication skills are essential. But most of us don’t work on them. And when I say communication, it’s not just knowing one language and being a master at it. We live in a country where there is a change in languages every 100-150 kilometers. So, it becomes inevitable to learn new languages. Also, when you learn languages, you tend to feel less alien when you go to new places. You have more confidence in you and you also get to bargain better (that’s the biggest takeaway I guess).
Overall, travelling helps us expand our horizons and shape us into a better person. The chances to learn new life skills are abundant and all you have to do is pay attention closely.