I'll start off with this... a lot of us act or dress or talk a certain way around our friends because of the circumstances in which we met and the things we've experienced together...and so we feel we have to keep acting that way because they have expectations of us. Everyone does it. I know if my friend Erik said, "you know what I'm going to start learning tap dancing" I would look at him like he has 8 heads. And then me and my friends would grill him for the rest of the night. I know when I announced that I was traveling some of my closest friends asked why? and thought I was insane. they just didn't get it. they didn't expect it from me. now oddly enough it seems I've caused every body around me to take a long hard look at their life and how they need to change.
anyway...I'll be traveling alone through oz/nz for the next year or few. This is my first time doing anything this big. It kind blows my mind a little because I start thinking I can completely change the way I am. the way I act. the things I do...and no one would think it's weird that I am doing what I am doing, because they don't know me.
but then...part of me thinks I'll probably just fall back into my normal habits after a while and get comfortable...which don't get me wrong, I like me, I like where I am and the options I have. But the whole idea of starting all over and doing completely different things, with 26 years of knowledge is very alluring. It's not just a sight-seeing trip, or a journey of self-reflection. It's a clean slate. So even if I am to be the same person I am now. I would still have to rebuild that, so why not take a chance at being different just to see what it's like...so now I wonder how my life would be if I played more sports or learned to dance or started rock climibing or took a cooking class, volunteered at a homeless shelter...who knows... anything.
Has traveling changed you? Or should I say Have you changed because of traveling?
Anybody take up any hobbies that they normally wouldn't have for fear of being embarrassed or looked at funny? Maybe you started reacting to everyday comments differently just because nobody has any expectations of you. anyone pull a 180 and just go in a completely different direction.
[ Edit: Edited on Feb 26, 2008, at 6:28 PM by Cool Paul ]
I've never gone off for months at a time, but even with short trips every year I'd say travelling has changed me. For one, it's a great subject to talk about when you meet other travellers, and strangers become instant friends. Plus just planning a trip -- for months even -- is almost as exciting as actually going on the trip, so much of each year is spent in anticipation. It's a nice feeling.
My friends don't ask me why I travel, but some think I throw caution to the wind a little too easily ("Aren't you scared?") or think I'm some sort of privileged worldly type ("Oh, you're a world-class traveller. What do I know."). The last is so annoying, because travelling is a choice. I don't spend my money on crap--I don't even have a car. I just choose a destination and budget accordingly. Yeesh!
But, rant aside, travelling is like a hobby for me. I made the decision awhile ago that, if I liked it so much, I might as well go out and do it. No more hmming and hawing and "Well, if I wait another year and save up even more...". Sure, I could take up tap dancing or watercolours or badger hunting or whatever, but I like to travel, so I do it. And I'm a little different every time I come back. But beyond that, my friends are the people I get along with best in the world, and coming back to them is a great thing, too. It's a balance. I like it.
CoolPaul, I can totally relate to you because I have never planned a big trip on my own and I, too, am going to New Zealand this summer (or their winter).
I have no doubt in my mind that traveling to this country will change certain things about me. I'm sure it will change the way I look at everyday situations in life. The way I think. Maybe even things that I like/don't like. I'm SO excited to experience that!!! I'm sure deep down that I'm a little scared, but the anticipation and excitement outweighs it by far.
You'll probably experience the same things, too. But everyone is different. It's a learning experience!!!
I liked what you said Coolpaul. I am planning my first big trip on my own as well. I am normally very sensible well planned out person. I am so looking forward to packing my bags, chucking in the job and going off into the unknown and doing new and exciting things that I would normally not do. Is scary but very exciting.
Yes, traveling changes you. And the longer you spend outside your culture and comfortable "box" of origin, the more lasting the change. But I think in a lot of ways, it doesn't "change" you, but develops you more. You become more aware of what you actually are, and who you actually are. You realize you have to hold on to a belief because you believe it, not because everyone around you does.
Once you are taken out of your culture, your culture suddenly defines you, in ways that often are not what you expected (and sometimes not what you wanted, especially us Americans). But it can be a very good thing. You have to start questioning everything, because everyone around you is now questioning you. You have to find out what is really important to you and what is not, even if you thought it was.
However, any faults or qualities about yourself you don't like- well they follow with you, so you still have to work to overcome those. The saying goes "No matter where you go- you're still there." It sounds silly unless you understand what it means. Don't travel (or move) as a way of running away, but more as a reason of finding something.
Nice post Cool Paul.
Yes, travel changes us but it's the extent of that change which differs from person to person. For instance, travel can act as the trigger to start a different life. For instance, people may dress or act a in a manner that might appear out of character but they are only doing so because they are out of their normal life's 'straight jacket'. Alternatively, they may develop different interests that they may not have developed at home due to a lack of exposure to the particular topic.
I know people who have changed their lives completely. Some have broken up relationships, others have decided to get a tattoo, some have dabbled in drugs, others have decided to study history and on it goes. These are all things that, perhaps, these people wouldn't have undertaken had they stayed at home. New environments in which you are effectively anonymous allow people to make some changes without feeling embaressed.
A lot of in depends on your personality, and just because changes are not external and hence visible doesn't mean they don't happen. A lot of people simply change their attitude and grow up.
Good topic. I completely understand the quote:
Quoting Cool Paul
a lot of us act or dress or talk a certain way around our friends because of the circumstances in which we met and the things we've experienced together...and so we feel we have to keep acting that way because they have expectations of us.
In fact, in a blog entry I wrote back in 2006 called Cathy I'm Lost I Said Though I Knew She Was Sleeping, I said something very similar:
I felt like I wanted to change, that I wanted to be a different person than I was, but it was too hard. It’s much easier to just fall into familiar roles when confronted with familiar people and places then it is to try and change. It’s too confusing for the people you deal with and it’s too confusing for you.
I think travel helps with this. As I said in my blog entry, changing the way I related with my friends and family was easier as the distance of space and time had lessened the pressure to fall into familiar roles. It also gives you a lot more time to think about things without having the everyday pressures of your life (which isn't to say that travel is without it's own pressures).
Has travel changed me? Certainly.
It has made me much more patient than I ever was. I used to be pretty short-tempered and high strung. Travel teaches you to slow down and not stress about the speed that things happen, because otherwise you'll have a coronary and die with the stress.
I've become less concerned with external trappings of success. I'm still ambitious, but my ambitions tend to revolve more around internal growth, adventure and experiences and the occasional joy from getting featured blog entry or photos here at travellerspoint.
It's also put an almost insatiable need to keep travelling, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you want in life.
On the negative side, I will say that because I have been travelling a lot (I travel for work as well as personally), I don't have too many close friends - most of the people in my home town I don't see enough, and people I meet on the road are transitory or only occasional visits. That can get lonely.
All that said, not sure I'm about to take up tap dancing yet...
[ Edit: Edited on Mar 5, 2008, at 10:19 AM by GregW ]
I started travelling nearly 2 years ago. Looking back, i would think - was that even me. So i can really understand what you mean by a clean slate. I needed a fresh start, i had one - i spent the first day of 2007 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and that went on to be the best year of my life - the most life changing one at that. Unthinkable, just a few months ago i was trudging on along a normal life of going to school, studying and thinking of going to college, and like everyone else, hoping to be rich, earn money etc.
Having came back, i guess that greatest thing ive gained from travelling is knowing what i want from life, and appreciating the simple things in life, looking at life from another perspective i guess, that life is not just one path, it is an open road - you can do what you want with it.
In short it opened me up to the infinite possibilities of life, with which to do what you really want and be who you really are, instead of following the herd and just looking at life as i used to, ie finishing school, getting a career, starting a family etc....
2 years down the road, feels like a long way man, sometimes i feel i have lived several lives, from my troubled youth to the me of today. Travel, i would say, changed my life and my entire outlook on it.
2 years down, and am currently in the midst of planning a 3 months trip to India
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I'm a through with my travels for the time being but you post got me thinking about an opportunity missed. I know that I was a different person when I was travelling but what if I had made a conscious dissision to try on a new personality for one of my trips. I think it would be a great Idea to make a list of how you will live differently on your trip and try it out. I'm not saying don't be yourself, just be you enhanced and uninhibited.
I've got to remember this when I start travelling again.