… and how I realized I should LET GO
2015: The relocation
On my way back home from my last day of work at the company, I had to pack the last-minute stuff in a rush. Yes, I was relocating to a different city, different country and a different life.
As I shifted base to Malaysia, I thought – let me start by exploring South East Asia in full swing… and off I began on my adventures two years ago. I started booking tickets every alternate week and trying out new places in order to check boxes off my bucket list. This continued for a year, till a fellow traveller asked me ‘Where do you want to go before you die?
2016: The reflection
That’s what got me thinking. Is it ‘where I want to go’ or ‘what I want to do’ while I travel that matters? It got me questioning my mode of travel, making me wonder if the number of cities I visit is actually important or is it the insight I gain into each city and into my life, in turn, that is more important.
So far I had been aggressively adding ticks to my travel check-boxes. Really? Was that even getting me anywhere? Physically, yes, but in the actual sense was it working right? When I woke up one morning, these muffled thoughts seemed to have brought a vision, a clarity. Why am I really travelling? How has it changed my life? How has it touched my life?
2016-17: The change of plans
I then realized it’s not about the place I want to go to that really matters, it’s about the experiences that are going to change my life by visiting those places. What did I do?
- I started maintaining a travel book to jot down experiences instead of a mere destination-list. I started noting down the instances that touched me, the giggles I shared with my travel buddy on the trip, the two hours I spent scratching my hand and neck to deal with the food allergy, the time I forgot to get my passport out of the safe and asked the cabbie to take a U-turn, the sea shells I collected at a beach, the way I missed my flight, the day I got a shoe bite so bad that I walked back bare foot…
- I started taking it slow – not slow on the frequency of travel, but I started spending more time in each city, to get deeper into the streets, delve into the lifestyle of the locals and eat like a native member of the group. Every day brought a new set of wonder and helped me connect with the local life better.
- I made it a point to keep one day for myself. I started delegating one day to myself in every trip without any digital weapon (yes, I call it a weapon as it only takes your life away) to walk around the city on foot, observe the happenings, imbibe the fresh air, diffuse good thoughts and understand the lessons learnt from the trip in those quite moments.
2017: The lessons learnt
What did the above practices do? Well, they sound very simple, but are actually difficult and crucial to deal with. It made me understand how travel had truly and actually changed my life:
- It helped me loosen up
- It opened brighter avenues to travelling
- It made my travels more efficient
- I realized that exploring the city like a local was not overrated
- I started letting go of the typical touristy spots
- I started focusing on things I want to do, rather than things I should do as a tourist
2017 onwards: The mission
- To spend more time in each city versus visiting more cities in a short time
- To stop showing the world my travel tales from my camera lens, all the time
- To start seeing the world from my own lens (my eyes)
- To learn from my mistakes and consider travel as a means of fulfilment
- To let go of plans that don’t work too well and to embrace challenges to travel
- To ward off the thoughts of missing out and realize I cannot be everywhere at the same time
and most importantly…
–> To tear those guide maps.
–> To get lost.
–> To live life in my terms.
How has travel changed your life? Share your thoughts here.
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