Especially for those who love travelling, travel is often said to be perspective changing: Go out and see the world and by experiencing different cultures and ways of living, our goals and visions are re-defined and our mindsets are shaped and shifted. I am guilty of saying this too. But when asked, “How have travel changed you?”, it is hard to put the answer into words – for the change is internal, intangible and visceral. As actions are by-products of thoughts, perhaps, a better answer to this question is to consider the new experiences I have done since I started travelling.
So, without further ado, here are the 12 things I will not have done without travel!
1. Write: This one is simple. I will not have started this blog if I had not travelled. Without discovering the passion for travel, I will not have the desire to share this love with other people. I will not have dared to bare my inner soul, by penning my thoughts into words.
2. Visit museums: I used to think museums were boring, and that they were for the sophisticated. Now, museums have become a staple in my travel itinerary. While I am still not a connoisseur of art museums, I do especially love going to history, war and pop culture museums. Besides learning tidbits of information, museums also offer a representation and provide quick insights into the identity of the city/country.
3. Learn a new language: Learning a new language is more likely in situations where you spend a long duration abroad. For myself, I learnt German when I lived in Vienna for an exchange semester. Also, when I do eventually embark on my South American journey, I will definitely learn Spanish beforehand! However, even if you do not spend a long period overseas, it is still fun to say hello in all the different native languages of the country you are in :) Guten Tag, Hola, Bonjour, Ciao, Mingalaba, Sawadeekap!
4. Try new food: I am quite a picky and unadventurous eater. However, after travelling, I am more receptive towards foods I normally would not eat (cue curry, sashimi, oysters/mussels/clams). Trying local cuisines is also a must when I travel now! PS: I still will not eat cockroaches, scorpions, snakes and whatnot!
5. Touching animals: I am not a fan of animals. All of them – dogs, cats, hamsters, parrots, tortoises! Truth be told, I can get quite terrified when a dog starts barking or licking my toes. So it is surprising that when I checked into this homely hostel in the Blue Mountains, I actually lovingly patted the owner’s cat when it started purring and inching close to me.
6. Be a kid at heart: Travel taught me to be a child again, to let go of inhibitions and be amazed by the simplest pleasures in life. Crawling through the hollow trunk of a fallen sequoia tree, climbing up and down temple ruins, creating snow angels by waving your hands and legs, making pottery with sand and water and getting giddy with excitement over gelato – these are but some snippets of how I have been a kid at heart!
7. Lounging and napping in public areas: One of the eye-openers for me in Europe was to witness people lounging and laying around gardens, plazas and other open-air areas. Nobody does this back in Singapore! We are often too busy working/studying or spending our times in shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas instead. Since then, it has become increasingly common for me to catch a wink on beaches, gardens or just any random grass patch during my travels!
8. Engaging in casual conversation with strangers: Just my humble opinion, I feel that Westerners are better than Asians in making casual conversations. I am still not an incredibly talkative person, but I now try my very best to not just reply “Great!” when posed with the question “How has your day been?” :)
9. Hiking: I am not an outdoorsy type of person (or maybe, used not to be?), so I never thought in a million years that I would actually fall in love with hiking. Not till my friend dragged me up Mount Merapi where I witnessed the most beautiful sunrise in my life. It was only then that I found all the energy spent and muscle soreness so incredibly rewarding. Since then, I have embarked on numerous other hiking activities (always rewarded with breathtaking scenery!). I look forward to many more to come, and the Everest base camp trek is definitely numero uno on my list!
10. Bungy jump: Three years back when I first visited Interlaken and pitched with the idea of skydiving/bungy jumping by my travel mates, I was like “Hell no, I am never doing it”! But travel breeds a sense of adventurousness in you and it spurs you to endlessly seek new and interesting experiences. Overcoming my fear of heights, I finally bungy jumped in Cairns a few months ago :) Skydiving will come next!
11. Quit my job: I will probably be contented with my job and not quit, if I had not travelled. But having known and experienced amazement and adventure, it cultivates restlessness in your soul and teaches you to not settle for your current situation. For better or worse, that’s wanderlust I guess :)
12. Appreciate life: This probably sounds vague and overly general – but travel does foster in you a greater appreciation for life. To see, witness and experience nature’s beauty in its rawest form, the shaping of a nation’s identity and culture through the twists and turns of historical events and lifestyles of the less privileged, travel shows you the wonders and horrors of planet Earth. Without this developed appreciation for life, I will not have done the 11 other things mentioned above!
So, my question to you is – what will you have not done, if you had not travelled?