Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on what you are thankful for. This year, I’m reflecting on the top 6 things that travelling has made me thankful for.
1. Creating new memories
Travelling often pushes us to take a break from our mundane routined lives, and do things that you otherwise wouldn’t. This year I forged new memories, from riding a camel in the Sahara Desert, getting lost in translation (and in general) in Brugge, climbed the Great Wall of China, haggling like there is no tomorrow in the Souks of Marrakech, or savouring the best egg tart I’ve ever eaten in Taipei. Travelling has allowed me to constantly create memories of my own, that fuel me to continue to journey and explore.
2. Gaining new perspectives
Travel has opened my eyes to the enormity of the world, and how many people co-exist on Planet Earth. Gaining new perspectives helps you acknowledge how different experiences shaped your identity, and learning about yourself while meeting people. There is also something liberating about experiencing another culture- it allows you to take a look at your country, customs and lifestyle in a completely different light. Sure, it might unveil imperfections but it also highlights subtle qualities that make where you come from, home.
3. Meeting new people
My favourite part of travelling is meeting new people and engaging in conversations. Apart from the new found perspectives, it is always exciting to know that you have friends in different parts of the world, and gives you more the reason to go back to visit! The best part of making friends with locals is that you get to be introduced to authentic experiences, on top of the touristy favourites that you researched on Trip Advisor of Lonely Planet. Besides, despite the difference in perspectives and cultures, you will discover that there is at least one similarity you share with your acquaintance, if not the passion to travel.
4. Broadening your knowledge
Besides learning how to survive in foreign environments, travelling has also taught me to become street smart. It’s like being a newbie in life in every new country you visit. By throwing yourself out there, especially when travelling by yourself, you are forced to learn how to navigate yourself around, speak new languages, brush up on geography, adapting into others’ culture, religion and principles, try new cuisines, and be more inquisitive about history and politics. These are things that I would never learn in a classroom or through others, experiencing it yourself is the only way.
5. Learning to be fearless
Every now and then, travel has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. Several years ago, I had fears of deep water, heights, being alone, and staying anywhere less than a 4-star hotel without flushing toilets. Today, I am a certified scuba diver, conquered the Leap of Faith in Atlantis Dubai, slept in the middle of a desert, ate a bunch of weird food (some of them still alive) and initiated several conversations with strangers. I learnt that it is okay to be alone at times, and most importantly, it is alright when things do not go the way you planned.
6. Not taking things for granted
One of the best ways I have learnt to cultivate happiness is gratitude. There are so many things in life that tempt us to be discontent, reasons to lose our heads and retreat into selfishness, but coming home from a journey each time makes me appreciate my own home and bed to sleep in, food on my plate, the support of friends and family, the comfort of living in a first world country, and the opportunities that I was very fortunate enough to take, and the freedom to see the world. I read somewhere that ‘when you travel, you are thrown into an unknown, and often that unknown is missing things that you take for granted’.
What about travelling are you thankful for?