‘Tis the season to pause, reflect on the year passed, and get ready for the year ahead.
Every year our business changes, often dramatically. I have found that pausing to observe and anticipate the evolving travel trends is a discipline that directly impacts business performance in the 12 months that follow.
This year, with an abundance of unpredictable variables, I’ve decided to invest this time of reflection into the lessons that I have learned from a life filled with the wonderment of travel.
For me, travel isn’t about checking places off of a ‘bucket list’, and taking “I was here” photos. When I travel, my eyes and heart are opened to our shared world’s natural wonders, diverse cultures, unique histories and traditions.
In this spirit, I humbly share the lessons that I’ve learned from my travels so far:
To discover the world is to discover one’s self – There’s nothing like travel to take you out of your comfort zone. In a new environment, we become eager to understand more about our surroundings – and our default daily life, with its familiar monotony, is paused. Every time I travel, I gain a new perspective and a fresh outlook on any challenges or changes that I’m faced with. Most importantly, travel helps you find your inner child; unlocking curiosity, creativity, self-assurance and a sense of lightness.
Strangers for a mere second – I’ve met the most extraordinary people while travelling, people I’d probably never have met in my daily life, all of whom added colour to the fabric of my life. Interacting with new people; a smile, a wave, a welcoming manner – can break down any barrier and create friendships even when a mutual language isn’t shared. Thoughtfulness is a universal language. Through travel, we develop an understanding of other cultures, religions and lifestyles.We can all relate to one another, when we search for what connects us as humans; changing the world one travelling peacemaker at a time.
The splendour of difference and diversity– I am at times frustrated by the ongoing homogenization of so many major cities. Why travel somewhere new, only to find that so much is the same as back home? What makes a city unique is, quite simply, its uniqueness. The vibe of a place has as much to play as its appearance or ‘charm’. Cast stereotypes aside and keep an open mind to what modern life is like in that culture. Seek to understand and respect the differences. Isn’t that ultimately why we love to travel as ‘insiders’?
Relive history. Don’t just read about it – I’m fascinated by history. Though we love to read books that reconstruct the past, it’s extraordinary how being in a new place and picturing events, puts history into context. So often, the place itself makes the tapestry of history, art, music and all of its cultural aspects, more enlightening. Walk in the footsteps of artists, poets, politicians and icons – reliving the everyday lives of people from long ago. Become an insider…in another time.
Discover the language of locals– Just last weekend I read of global outcry caused online when Miss USA, competing for Miss Universe in Bangkok, Thailand, had to apologise following comments she made about fellow Miss Universe contestants’ poor English-language abilities. We know that English is the most spoken language worldwide, however we also know that when we are travelling, we are entering the lives and homes of others – often where English is not the native tongue. Language is the most rapid form of human connection. Making an effort to absorb some of the basics of the local language makes a difference. Be still – listen for words of courtesy, study street signs and restaurant menus. Allow them to teach you aspects of local language. Listen to the rhythm of the language as locals speak. Yes, I struggle with the local tongue, it’s part of the journey and always sparks a smile on the faces of the locals.
Appreciate and celebrate cultural differences– As we travel, we realise that we are all one people. Living amongst people from other cultures helps us understand their traditions, religions, daily life and dreams. Roots of religions, cultures and traditions all came from somewhere, along with ideas, moral codes and art. Each culture has its treasures. Seek to discover, to learn, to love each nuance of the local way of life. Smile when you realize that deep down, the essence of who we are as human beings is the same.
Be present, be in the moment– Discover “the good life” through memorable moments of exploration and mutual understanding. There is joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of details, the most delicate of moments. Commit to your travel dreams and step boldly into your future.
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – This is my mantra, and I believe in the essence of these 11 words to my very core. Many define being rich by the amount of accrued assets. From the financial aspect, travel is often a big expense, but it really does enrich one’s life in ways beyond measure. Travel is an investment that can never be lost.
There are no “mistakes” in travel – Every journey offers the opportunity to experience the unique energy ofexploration.Life is an adventure. Live it. Explore the world around you. When I say “adventure” I don’t mean extraordinary physical activities or wanderings into the unknown. For me, adventure is about “exploring life’s possibilities with no stone unturned”. It’s about the journey, not the destination.
As we count down to the final hours of 2018, I hope that these learnings, made even more vivid for me this year, touch and influence your hopes and dreams for the New Year.
For now, I leave these thoughts with you, along with my wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy holiday season, and an adventure-filled year ahead.