The thoughts, stories and advice of Bill Riddell.

Traveling Away From Yourself

February 26th, 2010 Posted in advice, goals, travel

I’ve recently returned home after spending the year so far (and the last few days of 2009) travelling South East Asia at a manic pace with a very good friend.

In that time we covered 4 countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam & Cambodia), explored 14 cities and encountered countless new people (tourists & locals) while coming to terms with the new cultures and centuries of history.

This time has opened my eyes to the power of travel to transform our lives, in part by leaving elements of our identity behind and absorbing new ones on the road.

A large part of our identity is where we live, who we surround ourselves with and what we do day-to-day. When travelling, particularly over a longer term, we abandon these external influences on who we are and instead can focus on who we truly are as a person.

We often leave behind some of our habits, be they good or bad.

You may change your sleep patterns – becoming an early riser to ensure a productive day of sight seeing. Or instead you may transform into a laze-about. Sleeping all day, or at least till you shake off that hangover from a night of mingling with new friends.

It may be spending habits. Although travel can be expensive, chances are you will leave behind your poor daily spending habits. Without your regular coffee shop nearby you skip the $4 morning pick me up, do not succumb to the fast food temptations.

Your daily exercise habits, or as is more often the case lack of exercise, is often thrown out the window. The daily commute and hours behind a desk can be replaced with exploring a new city by foot, mountain hikes and bike tours. Be aware the temptation however to lounge by the beach or pool and work on your tan the whole time.

Let’s not forgot diet either. When traveling it can at times be easier to eat healthy, your regularly on the move so you tend to grab quick easy and unhealthy snacks. Or you can slow down a little and eat as the locals do – the healthy ones at least. I’m shamed to admit its a rare day when I indulge in fresh fruit but it was so abundant and cheap in most cities that I simply couldn’t ignore. Though I had a few cheat days I was for the most part eating local healthy food from small family restaurants and the awesome street vendors (particularly in Thailand).

As you travel take time to realise the bad habits you have successfully left behind and ensure you do not fall back into them once you return. From the small things like not checking your watch every 5 minutes

Also be aware of bad habits you may be picking up whilst exploring the world. For many travel brings out the inner cheapskate

Travel can be a powerful catalyst for life change because the act of travel effectively throws out the script of our daily lives.

Re-asses values, different perspectives and belifes as you are confronted by new ways of life – cultures and experiences. Most importantly enjoy yourself. Travel is an amazing thing.

While on my trip I managed to tick off a few more of my lifetime goals – you can see my updated list here and subscribe by RSS or email updates to see the upcoming posts about my travel experiences.

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