Most people would probably agree that travelling is an excellent way of learning, not only about the world, but about yourself. The internet is full of inspirational travel quotes centred around the notion that a journey, near or far, is the best way to have a whole host of amazing experiences presented to you on a plate.
There are many sensations we should all experience at least once in our lives, some good and some bad, and far too many to list here. These are just five of those we thought were most fundamental to a great adventure.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The purpose of life after all is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Letting go of control
Humans love to feel in control of things, we are hard-wired to want control over our lives and know that we are in the driving seat. However, it is also good to come to terms with the fact that the world is going to do what it’s going to do, regardless of how you feel about it or the plans you’ve made.
Travel confronts us with an endless array of unexpected situations. A sunny day can turn into a blizzard, the bus you’re on could break down for two days in the middle of nowhere, a random encounter could lead to a complete diversion. Often we will have to step out of our comfort zone, both physically and mentally.
The sensation of being happy to go with the flow, whatever happens, is a truly liberating one. Stepping out into the great unknown with no idea what the day will bring, is one of the great thrills of travel.
Experiencing the kindness of strangers
Many people say travel is all about the people you meet, and in a way it’s true. Many of the lasting memories we bring home involve unexpected meetings or random invitations, and in the end this is the best way to learn about another culture.
Despite all the malice in the world, the majority of humans across the globe are still heart-warmingly kind to the core. It never ceases to surprise people that in so many places people will go out of their way to help you or to offer some generous token of hospitality.
Sometimes while travelling it is necessary to put ourselves completely at the mercy of strangers, and it is comforting to know that much of the time, the situation turns out in a way that reaffirms our sometimes dwindling faith in humanity.
Brushing with danger
Travelling can definitely take you out of your comfort zone, but at the more extreme level, life on the road is also more likely to bring you face to face with danger.
Coming close to a moment of mortality can take many forms, for some people it’s getting trapped on a mountainside in adverse conditions or being lost in the jungle in the dark, for many even a white knuckle hair pin road is petrifying enough. Some situations can be utterly life changing, like being in a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.
There might be times when you think ‘this is it, please just let me get out of this situation alive!’ and when you do emerge unscathed it usually makes an excellent story, even if you can’t quite convey how truly terrifying it was. Times like this can also be extremely humbling, when you realise that for many people in the world, encounters like this are a part of everyday life.
Feeling dwarfed by nature
For most of us living in the modern urban world, much of our time is spent boxed up. This can make you feel small, insignificant and claustrophobic as if the problems and worries contained in each box somehow get amplified by the walls.
Packing up and heading out to huge expanses of raw nature can make you feel small and insignificant, but in a completely different way. Standing in silence surrounded by lofty mountains, vast snowy tundra, endless forests or deep ocean, you get a real sense of distance and perspective of our place as a speck on this magnificent planet that will exist long after we are gone.
Testing your might
Overcoming any mentally or physically gruelling challenge can create a great rush of euphoria, and pushing ourselves to achieve set goals is an excellent way to confirm that we really can achieve anything if we put our mind to it.
Often travel will make us confront our fears and finding that we do, in fact, have the guts to get past them is a brilliant confidence boost. Anything from travelling solo, to cycling the length of Africa, to overcoming difficult situations in a language you don’t understand.
Travelling doesn’t have to be an endurance test, but sometimes when it turns out that way we learn how much of a battering we can take and still come out on top.
Going too fast
This one isn’t for everyone, in fact it could almost go under the same heading as brushing with danger. However, whatever your preference there is no doubt that driving or falling too fast creates an adrenaline kick like no other. Bungee jumping, skydiving, surfing and even wingsuit jumping all make a pretty lasting impression.
Some people spend every second wishing it would end, clinging on desperately with all blood drained from face and hands. Others never want it to stop and make a full time hobby out of their need for speed.
Some of the crazier people out there agree that staying in control while going way too fast, be it snowboarding off piste or driving a motorbike at 200 kmph, can have a very meditative effect on the brain. Everything else blurs into nothing, leaving just you, your acute concentration and the moment.