“It changed my life.” How many times have you heard that said? The range of these miraculous events from the near-misses to the new revelations is broad.
Certain trips feel life-changing in the way perspective is altered or understanding of a place or culture increased. You learn new skills, gain confidence, or truly change your life by meeting new people who become part of the rest of your life.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that travel can change your life – what you do, what you read, what you care about, your doubts and even your physical self.
It’s happening. I’m getting ready for a trip this fall and grateful that I still have five months ahead. It’s a horseback riding clinic in a beautiful foreign setting. (This is where friends laugh or gasp or seem very confused.) Yes, I will be spending seven days on horseback on trails, along the beach, and in the training ring.
As I counted off the years left before the next big birthday, it brought up existential questions. Who am I? Who do I want to be when I hit that truly adult milestone? What of the (many) hobbies I’ve dropped would I want to reclaim as part of my life? Horseback riding was one.
Though my relatives had horses, my grandfather was loath to let a little blonde bookworm with a bad sense of balance have the reins. So to prove a point after grad school, I rode a couple of times a week but as many things do, it faded away with job changes, mortgages and life.
A trip isn’t just a promise of an experience you plan for, it can be a promise to yourself, a way to reach a goal, a definitive time where you will make the leap. Committing to the trip, getting ready, planning – all shift your sense of who you are. And once committed, there’s no turning back. (Cowardice is not one of the options on the travel insurance.)
Would you feel this too? Not only am I walking funny from sore muscles and angry ankles, other things have to change to make the trip possible. I’m simplifying my life – culling down, weighing my choices, living more simply. I am thinking, “what matters?” In light of the big plan, what matters?
One of my favorite luggage strategies is to travel with clothes that I can let go of. Often these are things I love but are nearing the end of life. Wear that jacket or shirt one last time and leave it behind. It’s freeing. Less baggage, more simplicity, a lighter load rather than a heavier bag as I go forward.
That does work great for the suitcase but it’s an even better habit for the insecurities and fears you drop along the path – “I’m not the kind of person who can…”. It’s easier to slip out of those with strangers. It’s easier to try.
All of this will change you.Maybe the life-changing trip does begin when the idea first forms in your mind. I want my view of the world to be bigger but I also need my life to be bigger.
Is it time to risk more, be brave and think big?