A Few Side Effects of Travel

Visiting another country outside of your hometown is exciting and scary. Theres superficial and hedonic practices going on a lot of the time, and that’s okay. Sometimes thats literally all it is. But there’s something to be said about what happens when you disconnect from your day-to-day drudgery entirely for a while. Usually we don’t have to travel to have those experiences; we choose far away destinations for a reason. So here’s some side effects I’ve found in my limited experience of travel:

– YOU STEP OUTSIDE OF YOURSELF

Lots of people want to get super deep and talk about “finding themselves” or being free-spirited or whatever, and that’s fine. But this is what I think we all really mean:

Most of the time we’re actually trying to get away from ourselves.

Our jobs. Our homes. Hell, even loved ones. I’m no exception to this; I too, admittedly get jaded and lost and whatever else that I just want to be away from everything for a while. And the way most of us express that to the rest of the world is positivity, self exploration, escapism, and whatever else. And It actually does feel that way. It actually does make you take on that mindset, and it makes you feel really fucking good. You disconnect from all the bullshit and flood your mindset with all this freedom and euphoria and amaze-sauce.

Until you go back home, back to yourself. And all those same things you didn’t like or missed are still there. But guess what?

This is a good thing. You have different perspectives of yourself.

It encourages you change or accept what you don’t like about yourself and your surroundings. It shines light on what you’re actually in control of and not. What things you might want to try to live with, and live without. In other words, it gets you off your ass emotionally.

I think this is why a lot of us finally come home or at least in some point in the middle of it all think to ourselves, “what is happening?” As if we were just in some car accident in slow motion, detail for detail, and still confused about WHAT just happened. And that’s because we’re searching externally when whats happening is entirely internal. The mind is moving and changing to adapt and we don’t know what to make of it. So if that’s you, be patient with yourself.

I’ve realized that while I do enjoy and love travel, travel by itself isn’t enough for me. It’s not actually what I’m passionate about. It was the connection with other people, experiencing new things. It was what I took home and will always hold with me. It’s what I gave to others to take home and stay with them forever. Because it creates a scarcity of time with those people, and less of something makes it more valuable. These things can be accomplished anywhere, but for that reason, travel amplifies it.

So what did you discover in yourself?

– MEMORIES AND CONNECTIONS ARE AMPLIFIED

Not to be cliché, but I’m about to be totally cliche. We all know the adage about hills and valleys. Ups and downs. Highs and lows.

Traveling amplifies that. The same great experiences you could have at home, feels that much better. Going out for a drink and making friends becomes monumental. Taking that hike to look at lakes and mountains feels surreal and profound. But the opposite is also true. The come down from that amplified experience also amplifies the dull and boring. I think this is what breeds the “travel bug”.

This is unavoidable, and we usually bounce back pretty quickly. But there’s something else to this: The memories of the good times. The high. It sticks with us. It festers as we desire to have it again. Theres pros and cons to this as well. And as this incredible man once said, the desire for a positive experience is itself a negative experience, and the acceptance of a negative experience is itself a positive experience. I think memories tend to be strong on the former and weak on the latter.

I’m not trying to say there’s anything wrong with good memories. Hell, I promote the shit out of them. I purposely made videos of my trip so I could remember them in such a euphoric way. It’s a nice experience. That dreamy place in your mind. It will serve as good nostalgia for years to come.

But there’s a draw back to this, and that is that it also amplifies your valleys. It can make your lows seem lower than they actually are, and I think it’s a key thing to remember when we fantasize past times and long for more hills: That it’s just that. Just another place in your mind. So embrace your memories. Get misty eyed about them. Just try not to over indulge in them. Instead plan more endeavors. Look forward to having more of them.

– YOU BECOME MORE OPEN AND ACCEPTING

When you’re at home, its super easy to avoid things. Don’t wanna go to that party because that one person might be there? Fuck it, stay in. Have certain opinions and beliefs on a certain thing? Going and doing things and looking at things on Facebook that bolster those opinions and beliefs is a breeze.

But when you travel you can’t do those things. When you’re outside of your comfort zone you’re forced to view things differently. And mostly because you have to, to navigate and communicate. And in a strange way, this makes you more open to different ideals and accepting of other people. The way other people live. The way other people are. everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.

…and that a lot of that doesn’t really matter much. The side effect is you treat yourself that way, too. you just start acting how you want, uninhibited.

And this is freeing. Everything feels a bit more accepting. So you act and do as you want. I think this is the “finding yourself” part people talk about. It’s just that you feel less restricted to expose and practice what was always there all along. I think the reason for this is that the small group of people/places/things we spend most of our time with at home rub off on us. We all sort of remain in this equilibrium of what “normal” behavior and activity is so we can sanely go about our lives. And I think the longer we spend in this aura, the more confined our head space becomes.

– DISTANCE BECOMES MORE OBSCURE

Obviously, physical distance doesn’t seem what it used to be. It becomes more abstract. After a few rounds to the South Pacific, it honestly just seems like a day away. It’s really not that much. many other destinations on the planet for me is just a little bit further, which makes you realize how vast, but also how small the world really is in the 21st century. Anywhere on the planet is reachable with a little money, time, and courage. This is incredible in a lot of ways.

But life is a game of trade offs. This might come across as awfully ideal, but something else becomes blurred too: Perceived distance. You see all these far away places and meet all these people and try all these new things and see just how universal human needs are, how differently people go about fulfilling those needs. That the way everything is and could be is much closer than it ever seemed.

This causes you to feel psychologically distant and spacious from everything else, including people and yourself. And more specifically, the choices you can make in life.

Do I live in Washington, or Hawaii? Do I visit Australia, or Europe? Did I actually miss my friends that much? Did I actually miss being on the road that much? Do I even like my job? Am I just trying to escape from the problems I need to deal with at home? Or is a different landscape really what I need to evolve and learn and be happy?

There isn’t really a perfect answer for any of these. Theres a world of options and possibilities and only one reality. But this much is true: The more experiences you have, the less meaning each experience possesses. The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know. This is what travel did to me. You realize it really doesn’t matter what you pick, it’s just that you end up choosing something and giving yourself to it. Just shut up and live, bro.

So travel. Be daring. Choose something. Fuck it.

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