On an Air Canada flight to Japan recently, I read an article in Enroute magazine that really got me thinking. The first line of the article asked “Can travel transform who you are?”
After years of travelling the world and experiencing many cultures, sites and experiences, the obvious answer is a definite “yes!” The writer, Nicholas Hune-Brown, described his solo journey across Tasmania. He mentions the phrase “travel like a HERO” – Humble, Engaged, Resilient, Open. What better way to get the most out of each travel experience than to be humble, engaged, resilient and open no matter where each journey takes us or what we might learn. His journey was one of transformative travel, an extension of experiential travel (where we have opportunities to experience firsthand things like boating in a lagoon in the Amazon searching for caiman). With transformative travel, we come home realizing that the experiences we have just been part of, have transformed how we live, what we think and how we react to situations….self-improvement at its finest. The ability to “be in the moment” when we travel, to really understand and appreciate everything we are witnessing, to understand what makes the people tick and how they think and why.
Many examples come to mind as I think of how travel has transformed me, like visiting a soup kitchen in South Africa where hundreds line up each day for a bowl of soup and piece of bread, for many their only meal of the day; or visiting a village in Rajasthan where families live in straw shacks and are happy with the simplest of pleasures like a piece of fruit and a child to care for.
What better way to become more tolerant, understanding and appreciative of cultures other than our own. To realize that we are all the same, regardless of where we’re from, what we have and how we live. We all want peace, security, a happy family and good friends with whom to share it. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, so, I’ll keep on travelling. It’s good for the soul and so much more.