By Vincent Stokes
People travel for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, we need to just unwind and relax. Sometimes we’re looking for a new adventure, be it a visit to someplace far-flung, something that takes us out of our comfort zone, or just a change of scenery. Regardless of the reasons why someone chooses to travel, it is hard to deny that something that often accompanies the traveler home, along with their souvenirs, is a new perspective. Traveling takes us out of our ordinary lives, and our familiar routines. It can expose us to new places, ideas, and understandings. It can certainly influence our perspective on the world, but it also can change our perspective on ourselves, our lives, and the situations, challenges, and issues that fill our day-to-day lives. So, while this new perspective is often a side-effect of any travel, the following are some tips geared toward those traveling specifically for the purpose of gaining a different perspective.
Get Away From the Familiar
Perhaps the most obvious strategy for gaining a new perspective, is to remove yourself from the familiar. When we are mired down in the logistics of our everyday lives, it is difficult to reflect on any of it. Similarly, when we choose to travel to a place or experience that is not very different than that from which we came, a different perspective can remain elusive. Travel far, travel wide. Getting away from the familiar will, of course, be different for everyone. Maybe a visit to a foreign country is in order. Perhaps a visit to a different environment is needed. City dwellers can experience much from spending time in a quieter, rural setting. Conversely, for those who don’t live near one, a visit to a large city can be eye-opening, as far as exposure to divergent cultures and norms.
Get Away From it All
For almost everyone, spending time away from civilization offers a radical and sure-fire way to gain a different perspective. Primarily, it provides us the quiet we need to reflect. We so rarely experience true quiet in our lives; intrusive noise surrounds us most of the time. Even our nighttime sleep is infiltrated by the ambient noise of modern civilization, in the form of humming HVAC systems, outside traffic, and more. Out in the wild, away from the noise of everyday life, we can begin to listen to our own inner voice. In addition to the quiet, the lack of distraction in the form of man-made entertainment provides us with limited, but meaningful opportunities for activity. Without our phones, TVs, and a list of attractions to visit to check off a bucket list, we are forced to enjoy quieter activities, such as reading, meditating and hiking.
One of the most important ways to gain a different perspective on things, is to challenge yourself. This requires getting out of your own comfort zone, mentally or physically. Traveling to a new culture affords numerous opportunities for this in the form of unfamiliar food and rituals to experience. There are also less ambitious (and expensive) ways to achieve the benefits of this. Most of us are already equipped with the tools we need to accomplish something challenging and perspective-changing no matter where we travel –our own two feet! Although strolling through a new city or town opens our eyes to new things, there is nothing quite like hiking in nature to experience all of the benefits of wilderness therapy. When we hike, we move slowly enough to observe things along the way that we might not otherwise notice. The beauty of nature, big and small, is observed and enjoyed, and forces us to consider our own place in the universe. When we complete a rigorous hike, we are armed with the knowledge that we can set and achieve difficult goals. This awareness impacts us profoundly long after our hike is completed. There is also a fundamental understanding we gain when we reach the peak and look down from where we started. It is the embodiment of a different perspective.
No matter where you go, or what you do, there’s no doubt that travel is good for the mind, body and soul. Whether it is total rest or a new adventure you are seeking, a different perspective is bound to be a side-effect of your travels.
Author: Vincent Stokes is an outdoor enthusiast and an experienced world traveler. He also writes writes for the National Parks and works to promote pride in homegrown travel destinations. You can also connect with Vincent on G+ or twitter (@TravelingGlobal).
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