The day this blog post goes live, I am gallivanting through Iceland with my husband and round pregnant belly, soaking in a glorious week of baby-moon and birthday celebrations.
Preparing for this trip as our last international travel until after the baby is born got me thinking about the significance of travel in my life.
To me, travel is a source of transformation in so many ways.
I am left changed from each trip I take, and the lifestyle of frequent travel has shaped me in profound ways.
Even when I was a broke-ass college student, I saved and penny pinched everything I had so that I could still afford to see the world.
Now as a grown woman, a business owner, a wife, a coach and creative, and an expectant mother, I see so clearly the impact world travel has on my worldview, my marriage, my artistry, and even my future parenting style.
The five areas that I think have been the most transformed by a life of travel include my perspective on life, my relationship with celebration and gratitude, my education, my creativity, and my personal growth.
Whether you, too, revel in the joys of travel, or you are like my dear friend and client who “hates travel and has always hated travel,” I share these gifts and lessons with you as simply a spark of inspiration to take home with you, or into your next great adventure!
Travel has always been a reliable source of “big picture” perspective for me in my life.
From big decisions I need or want to make, to clarity about who I am and what I’m truly about, to a sense of self-reliant independence while simultaneously a one-in-seven-billion interdependent world citizen, to awareness of a higher consciousness to which and through which we are all inherently connected… leaving our home and familiar stomping grounds provides a powerful lens.
When I travel, I witness the childlike wonder and awe in me come to life again. It’s a beautiful thing to remember that seeing or experiencing something for the first time is not an experience isolated to childhood.
Travel also gives us the opportunity to open our minds and release our judgments. We get to be aliens, observing with curiosity and uncertainty about how and why things are as they are.
We also get to see ourselves inside of a new context, another culture, possibly an unfamiliar language, and a different history.
Travel gives me the same thing coaching gives me – a truer self-knowing, deeper compassion, and total permission to embrace that there truly is no one right way to do anything or experience the world.
Never am I more present to the presence and passage of time than when I travel – a perspective that brings me back to profound gratitude. The paradox of feeling like “normal life” has been put on pause, and yet time continues marching on, is a unique space for reflection.
When I celebrate inside of the the context of my normal life, it tends to be contained to a special gathering, thing, or time. A dinner, a night out with friends, a purchase, a moment.
There is a beginning, middle, and end to celebrating in this way that I cherish and value in its own right.
When I travel, however, it gives me the spaciousness to not only celebrate an occasion, but my life, the breath in my body, the divine timing of it all.
The gratitude I access while traveling is something I always bring home with me, and yet it’s not something I have found a way to access or replicate in my day-to-day life. (#goals)
Some people see or use travel as an escape from the mundanity of life, and admittedly it is an intoxicating, romanticized, ephemeral slice of life.
But to me, travel is anything but an escape – it is often the space where I get more connected to my purpose, more joyful and in love with my life, more inspired and catalyzed towards my goals.
“Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is totally true about home too.
Home is a sacred, special place that I adore. My home is an extension of me in many ways, and I am blissfully a homebody most of the time. “Do nothing” days where I curl up on the couch in my pj’s are among my all-time favorite things.
And, having the chance to miss my home, my space, and my routine gives me cause to relish and celebrate it when I return.
Something you may not know about me is that on a shoestring budget of about $5,000 during college (money saved from summers at Starbucks and babysitting jobs), I visited cities all over France, England, Scotland, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, and even Australia.
What I learned about myself, the world, and even about time and personal finance management, were things that I could not and would not have been able to learn from a book, a video, a conversation, or a classroom.
Travel taught me about discipline, resourcefulness, dealing with seemingly impossible challenges, budgeting, credit card points, language, geography, culture, humanity, divinity, and gut instincts.
This kind of education (the kind with books, math problems, and critical thinking PLUS real-world experiences) is what I’ve always dreamed of for my future children.
Studying the Ancient Romans in Rome, or Shakespeare in London, or speaking French in a Paris café – along with a robust curriculum of books and lessons – seems like the true definition of integrated learning to me.
Let me clarify that we do value the structure of a routine, home, and community — but equally so, we value breaking structure, exploring our place in the world, and developing a thirst for learning that goes beyond test scores and book reports.
When I asked myself the question years ago, “If I had all the money in the world, what would I do?” – this was one of the only things that was obvious to me. Traveling the world with my children to learn and grow is truly a life goal for me.
Seeing things we’ve never seen before, done in ways we’ve never done them, fosters the opportunity for us to break the molds of our minds that convince us there’s one right way to do anything.
For an artist and creative, this is essential.
The chance to witness the architecture, art, cuisine, and even energetic “vibe” of a new place makes for an exciting playground of ideas and inspiration.
We can see, smell, hear, taste, and sense our way through the lives and environments of others for a snapshot in time… and that can draw out a new connection to an old idea, or a new idea about an old connection… and a spark catches.
Staying inspired is the only “job” a creative has to do in order to create.
Same with a business owner in order to lead.
Same with a person in order to live fully.
Creative inspiration can come in many forms… sometimes I have my best ideas just spacing out in the shower.
And other times, leaving home and going somewhere new gives us access to that creative catalyst.
I have made it my personal and professional commitment to leave my comfort zone on purpose every day.
As a coach, I am the person that challenges “how things are” and asks the questions that open people’s hearts and spirits to the dream they’re guarding within them.
But I don’t just do that for others. I’m constantly peeling back my own layers to go deep and grow more.
One way to leave our comfort zones can be conversation… but physically leaving our comfort zones also has tremendous value and impact on an internal level.
We’ve all heard the quote, “Get comfortable with getting uncomfortable.”
To me, there’s never a waste in doing things that make us uncomfortable. We do, of course, need to find balance so that we are not just putting our nervous systems through the wringer 24/7.
A coach friend of mine said this to me recently:
Leaving our comfort zones in any way is a practice, just like yoga. Every move you make may not feel like forward progress, but the simple practice of it is positive growth.
No matter who you are, where you are, or what you do, travel is more than just an escape from our lives, a hobby for the wealthy, or an exhausting trip to “play tourist.”
Travel offers us a bigger perspective, a new space to celebrate our lives, a way to learn about ourselves and the world, a space to spark inspiration, and a practice of daring greatly.