I write this as we’re about to complete another inspiring adventure in South East Asia. Soon we’ll be returning home for a little while, enjoying the comforts of our own place – our soft and familiar bed is calling us! Whilst we’re looking forward to catching up with friends and family, our excitement is tinged with sadness because we’re saying goodbye to one of our favourite parts of the world.
One of the reasons we love to inspire travel is because it inspires us, and it affects us deeply. Once again, travel has gotten under my skin and dug deep into my soul. It’s not necessarily changed me as a person (not as much as our first adventure anyway), but it’s affected me greatly, and I’ve tried to put these feelings into words.
If you’ve been on any kind of adventure of your own, you’ll probably empathise with these feelings below. Or, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge and booking that flight to Bangkok (or wherever!), I’m hoping that this will inspire travel in you and cast aside any doubts to just go for it!
Inspire Travel In Your Life!
10 Ways Travel Inspires Me
1. Travel Heightens My Senses And Makes Me Appreciate Natural Beauty
It was whilst admiring the beautiful variety of trees lining Boracay beach in the Philippines, that I felt inspired to write down these reflections. So it seems appropriate that this is my first one. It might sound strange, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated nature until I started travelling.
Maybe it’s because of the weather at home (which is often cold and wet!), but when I’m ‘on the road’ I find myself paying so much more attention to my surroundings. Travelling, especially anywhere new, has that effect on me. Whilst I’m trying to soak up everything around me, new experiences heighten my senses and draw me into my new environment.
Whether it’s waking up to the sound of birds singing in the morning (or more likely a loud cackle from the neighbour’s chicken in S.E. Asia!), or taking in the awe-inspiring view of a dramatic volcanic landscape, travel makes me love and appreciate nature, in a way I never knew before.
2. Travel Gives Me Time To Think, Really Clearly
It might seem obvious, but the most precious gift of all that travelling gives you is time. Time to be in your own thoughts and time to think, clearly.
By switching off from my routines in daily life, such as chores, to-do lists or even just the normal distractions of the TV and phone, I can think more clearly, especially about my goals and passions in life. What do I want to achieve this year? How am I going to do it? What do I want to make more time for?
Whether it’s riding the bumpy 8-hour bus to our next destination, lying on a tropical beach with beautiful palm trees swaying above my head, or trekking through a scenic rice paddy in Vietnam, travelling gives me a LOT more time, and therefore room to breath, reflect and dream.
Simply by changing our environment, I feel inspired and new thoughts and ideas seem to spark into life.
3. Travel Teaches Me Something New Everyday
Every day is a school day, as they say! From history to geography and culture, travel constantly teaches me something new every day. From how noodles are made, or rice is harvested, to the difference between a young coconut (typically green on the outside and white on the inside!) and a mature one (the brown ones we’d typically see in a UK supermarket!)…I never knew how amazingly delicious young coconut juice was! Or from how the famous chocolate hills of Bohol were formed and the fact that the Philippines has over 7,000 islands!
It’s not just things or people we learn about though, travel teaches me about myself too. By being constantly thrown into new environments and situations, everyday is a lesson in self-development! I’ve feel like I’ve learned more about myself in the last 4 years than I had in the previous 27.
4. Travel Encourages Me To Be Patient And Maintain Perspective When Things Don’t Go To Plan
One of the most important things I’ve learned (and continue to learn every day whilst travelling) is the value of patience. Something you realise quite quickly when you start a new adventure, is that as soon as you step into that airport terminal or bus station to take your first journey, you’re no longer in control of everything, and the best thing you can do is accept your new reality as quickly as possible, and go with the flow.
After all, what’s the point in getting annoyed if your flight is delayed by 2 hours, or your tour is cancelled due to bad weather. There’s nothing much you can do about it! And so being patient is the best way to handle it – something we’ve learned after numerous delays and extra-long bus journeys! Rather than get annoyed, we just shrug our shoulders and grab another coffee, or enjoy a few more chapters of our books. It’s to be expected occasionally along the way, and is usually not a major issue. Delays and relinquishing control will only spoil your adventure if you let them!
Something we’ve noticed, and love about the locals on most of our travels, is their incredible patience and ability to not get frustrated or annoyed in tricky situations. We always try to take a leaf from their book.
For example, when we first arrived in the Philippines, it was a Saturday in December, nothing too innocuous about that you would think. We’d arranged for a driver to collect us from the airport and take us directly to our homestay accommodation, north of Manila city near Mount Pinatubo. The journey was estimated to take around 2-3 hrs, but after 5 hours or so, we found ourselves still stuck in a traffic jam in Manila city, and hours from our final destination!
It turned out, as our driver calmly explained, that as it was the first Saturday in December, we’d arrived on one of the busiest Christmas shopping days of the year! Hence the bad traffic as everyone was commuting in and out of the city. We couldn’t believe our bad luck as we could’ve flown in any other day of the week!
But it was our driver that we felt sorry for, having to concentrate hard in the crazy traffic for such a long time. Amazingly though, not once did he come across annoyed or display any kind of ‘road rage’, despite knowing he had to make the long return journey that evening. He kept his cool, and slowly navigated us through the city with various detours along the way to avoid the jams. Of course we took a lead from his behaviour and tried our best not to be bothered either, despite what was supposed to be a 2-3 hour journey turning out to be 8 hours! However it was a good lesson in patience, that was for sure! Thankfully our long journey was totally worth it as our Mount Pinatubo Tour was spectacular! (Follow the link above to read more about it.)
5. Travel Encourages Me To Respect Others Through Greater Cultural Understanding
The best thing about travel for us is the people we meet along the way. From sparking a simple conversion or showing thanks to a local who helps us along our way, it enriches our experience and helps us get to know and understand the local culture.
Some of our most rewarding experiences have come from homestays. Either arranged through a company, or independently where possible, this usually involves staying with a local family for a night or two, in order to learn about their day to day life and experience it first-hand, whilst also sharing our lives with them. We’ve had some wonderful homestay experiences along the way, most of which we’ve shared here on the blog (article links: Peru, Morocco, Laos and Vietnam – Sapa & Ba Be National Park).
One of our favourite homestay experiences was in Ba Be National Park, and was a highlight of our time in Vietnam. After trekking through the stunning countryside of Ba Be National park, we spent the night at a local family’s humble home, deep in the countryside surrounded by rice paddies, and water buffalos for neighbours! We spent the evening eating delicious home-cooked Vietnamese cuisine and drinking local ‘rice wine’ whilst getting to know Mr Hung and his family. After visiting the local school and witnessing the hardworking locals on the rice paddies, we left with the greatest of respect for the local people, and a desire to share our experience. (For the full story, click on the link above!)
6. Travel Takes Me Out Of My Comfort Zone And Makes Me Try New Things
One of our other favourite things to do when we travel is to try as much of the local cuisine as possible, even when we’re not too sure about it (remember the sheep’s head in Morocco?)! We absolutely love discovering great local food and it’s especially exciting when we discover a delicious new dish!
As you’ve probably gathered from our blog if you’re a regular reader, food is a passion of ours. It’s one of the main reasons why we love Vietnam (hands down our favourite foodie destination!), with India coming a close second (well in my opinion – Barry would probably argue Mexico or Japan!).
However apart from trying new foods, I love the fact that travel constantly takes me out of my comfort zone and encourages me to try new things and experiences. For example, I would probably never have hiked a mountain over 4,000 metres high in Morocco (in winter!), climbed an active volcano in Chile, or even imagined taking a polar plunge in the icy cold waters of Antarctica! Travel has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone and with it, provided the most rewarding experiences!
7. Travel Encourages Me To Be Honest With Myself
It may sound a little cheesy, but travelling definitely makes you find your true self – there’s no shying away from it.
When planning an adventure, sometimes the huge range of choices and decisions to make can be overwhelming. Should we book a tour or travel independently? How long should we stay there? Should we book an activity or just relax? It’s hard to know how you’ll feel in the moment, but the best way to answer all these questions is to be honest with yourself. Do you enjoy trekking enough to book a 4 day trip or would it be better to book the 2 day option? Do you really want to spend days touring all of a city’s museums or would you prefer to grab a coffee and watch the world go by in a local cafe?
I love the fact that travel gives you these choices. However, when in doubt, we always revert back to asking ourselves what do we enjoy most, and ultimately, what makes us happy. Personally, we love a great adventure, and get a great buzz and sense of achievement from a tough scenic trek, or roughing it a little to camp under the stars, but we also know how much we enjoy a little comfort and relaxation. Especially AFTER an adventure. So we’ll ensure our adventure is based on these preferences. By being honest with ourselves, we know that a mix of adventure and relaxation is how we like it, and will make us most happy.
8. Travel Makes Me Appreciate What I Have And Encourages Me To Help Others To Do The Same
It’s easy to take what you have for granted, and travel reminds me of this constantly.
We regularly witness the struggle and hard times of living in a developing country, and it’s a humbling reminder of how lucky we are. It makes us appreciate what we have, and reminds us that we were simply lucky to have been born where we were.
One particularly eye opening experience was when we learned about The UXOs bombs of Laos. Before travelling to Laos, we weren’t aware of the huge effect that unexploded ordnance (UXO) had had, and continues to have on the population as local people still live in danger of UXOs. Remnants of the Vietnam war, Laos is still plagued with buried bombs, causing hundreds of accidents a year as they are discovered by children or farmers in the countryside. It’s hard to comprehend people living in such danger, decades on from a war fought in another country. Therefore, discovering the brilliant charity organisation COPE during our visit to Laos gave us hope for the locals, and encouraged us to share an article about their amazing work providing prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation to victims of UXOs. Again, we left with a whole new understanding of a country we didn’t know much about previously, and an appreciation of how lucky we are not to be living in danger like that.
9. Travel Inspires Me To Be Creative
Travel inspires me to be more creative, it unlocks skills I forgot I had. Away from the burdens of modern life, and with time to think and reflect, my inner creativity is awakened. Sometimes I feel like travelling takes me back to my childhood creativity. To skills that were somehow lost or buried in the maelstrom of ‘growing up’, or perhaps pushed aside when spending too much time memorising facts for exams.
There’s a chance that you think you aren’t creative, or that’s a skill other people have. But travel gives you the head space to explore your creative mind, and you may just find yourself writing, or drawing as you sit on that bus, or on that beach. Travel gives you the chance to reawaken those skills and desires. Believe me, I’ve experienced it. And whilst I love a good book or a gripping movie, I get even more enjoyment out of creating something of my own (such as this blog!) and travel inspires me to do so.
10. Travel Digs Deep Into My Soul And Makes Me Question Life
Last but not least, travel touches my soul in a way I never expected it could. It might sound a little cheesy but it’s true. By seeing and experiencing other cultures and ways of life, travel opens my eyes and makes me question life (in a good way). It inspires me to aspire for more from life.
Travel helps me put insignificant tasks or routine into perspective. It makes me want to complete them quicker or abandon them altogether if they don’t really matter. Hell, does that dress really need ironed or can you just hang it outside for an hour to let the wind blow out the creases naturally? Yes it might not be perfect, but I could spend that 15 minutes doing something that will actually fulfil me or better still, make that phone call to a friend or family that I’ve ‘not had time for’.
One recent travel experience that dug so deep into my soul that I’ll never forget it was our 2-day homestay experience at Yen Duc Village in North Vietnam. The whole experience was amazing (full article coming soon) but in particular, it was our touching and inspiring meeting with a local war widower, Mrs Thai, that affected me the most. So much so that we decided to make a documentary (with her permission) of her incredibly sad but inspiring life story, and you can watch it here.
So that’s it, 10 ways travel inspires me and 10 reasons why I shall keep on travelling! Hopefully this has either reminded you why travel is an awesome thing to do, or provided the catalyst to inspire travel in you!