It’s needless to say that traveling broadens the mind, but what many neglect to realize is that traveling is also good for the soul. It is not just the novelty of the experience that enriches the soul. How we conduct ourselves when we travel, how we respond to unfamiliar situations and stimuli, and how we perceive and react to changes and discomfort, determine how we grow spiritually. Travel does not only let you tick items off your bucket list, but also presents opportunities for you to evolve spiritually. Here’s how.
1. Traveling makes you slow down and pause.
Imagine a day on your travels. You wake up late and have a laid-back breakfast before heading out for a day of sightseeing, exploration, spending time in nature, or shopping – all done at a leisurely pace of course. Or instead, you may choose to spend the whole day lounging on the beach, soaking up the sun, and staring at the waves. When you travel, you are able slow down, pause for a second and consciously notice what’s going on around you; allowing yourself to truly appreciate the beauty of life surrounding you.
Slowing down is good for your harried nerves and frazzled mind and is absolutely a great way to relieve stress. Traveling also makes you realize that some of the most precious things in life should be savored slowly.
2. Traveling makes you step out of your comfort zone.
Traveling most definitely forces you to think outside the box. Whether you have to deal with delayed flights, or you were left stranded at the airport overnight, staying in a cramped hotel room with no hot water and plenty of bugs, trying to explain to the street vendor that you are a vegetarian in a language completely foreign to you – traveling can be challenging… but challenging is great for the soul! There will be food that does not agree with you, but you can handle it; or inconsiderate and rude co-travelers who make life difficult for you, but they will only make your tolerance for others stronger. Traveling will make you step out of your comfort zone and compel you to get used to different tastes, people, and situations that would usually make you cringe back home.
Learning to adapt to unfamiliar realities and discomfort stretches your mind and gives you the mental workout that was missing from your previous day to day routine. Becoming more adaptable and tolerant will only strengthen your soul.
3. Traveling teaches you to embrace change and accept uncertainty.
Nothing is constant when you are away from home and hopping from one place to the other. The scenes change, the people change – their behavior, their language, their culture and customs are constantly changing as you continue along your journey.
When you travel, you never know what you’ll find once you turn the corner. As much as you think you can plan ahead, there will always be bumps along the way. When you travel, you are in unfamiliar territory. Embrace uncertainty, let go of control and enjoy the excitement, freedom from worries and peace of mind it brings you.
Uncertainty is most certain when you travel; embrace it and enjoy the trip. Carry this attitude back home, and go through life expecting nothing to remain the same. Embrace uncertainty and accept change, and be more at peace with yourself than ever before.
4. Traveling teaches you to be mindful.
But only if you choose to be.
Mindfulness is being able to concentrate on and be fully aware of what is going on in the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude. You do not attach a “good” or a “bad” tag to the experience. You take part in life as it unfolds around you without worrying about outcomes.
Being mindful while traveling means enjoying the sights and sounds without worrying about the mails lying unread in your inbox. Being a mindful traveler means you appreciate where you are without comparing it—favorably or unfavorably—to what you’re used to back home. Mindfulness traveling lets you discover hidden joys and simple pleasures that otherwise remain hidden from view when you look with judgemental eyes and compare with prejudiced views.
It might be worth it to start practicing mindful meditation on a regular basis in order to prepare your mind and spirit for a mindful travel experience. One of my favorite training videos is this one – a 20 minute guided mindfulness meditation practice.
5. Traveling teaches you gratitude.
There is something about being on the road and hopping from one exciting place to the other that loosens our inhibitions and unveils our true essence. (Or do we open up because we are not stressing over deadlines to meet and bills to pay?) Whatever the reason, traveling helps you appreciate the present moment; it fills you with gratitude.
Traveling is a balm for the jaded soul that had so long been accustomed to listening to the demands of the ego. When you travel, you open your heart to strangers and new experiences. You learn to accept change and be at peace when things are not delivered made to order. Traveling gives you new insights and alters your perspective. Traveling is always an enlightening and spiritually uplifting experience.
6. Most importantly, it teaches you to live in the NOW.
As important as it is to plan for the future, no one really knows what will happen next week, tomorrow, or even ten minutes from now. Traveling embeds in us the fundamentals of living for the moment and not taking life for granted. It teaches us to say yes more often and not be afraid of what others might think. When you are on the road, every second of every day is a new journey, so you must take advantage of this opportunity and seize the day! Forget about being late to work, if you are late for your bus, there is always a next one – besides you never know what experiences await you while you’re stuck in a small town waiting.
I realize that traveling may seem out of reach and even impossible to some. But it doesn’t have to be. There are always sacrifices that can be made in order to get there. If you feel like you are overwhelmed with the stress of day to day life or that your mind and body are miles away from your soul, it may be time for your next trip – even if it’s just to the closest town, beach or park. So what are you waiting for? Go! Go! Go!