Oh travel! – Until we meet again!
It’s been 1 year 3 months that I haven’t gotten on a plane or even taken a road-trip. Definitely the longest break from taking a break. For me, travel wasn’t just something I did to take a break, it was a way of life. Solo trips or with loved ones, exploring the new or going back to the familiar, it helped me come into my own, grow, recharge, and of course maintain my mental sanity. And not being able to do it as regularly as I normally would also has had an impact – not a good one. Two things that stood out were –
- Regular travel continued to add value and improve my quality of life, so without it, growth was inhibited in certain aspects of life.
- Lack of the intermittent dose of travel led to some level of regression like lower productivity and heightened stress levels.
So, I spent some time assessing how travel helped me grow and improve my mental well-being, so I could work towards those growth aspects more intentionally even when I was not traveling. Like they say, “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”, and I definitely didn’t want my life escaping me even if I couldn’t travel.
So, the two areas where I wanted to focus what growth and mental well-being. Looking at growth first, the three aspects that struck me as aspects which are significantly improved by travel are –
- Better planning, time management & organization skills –
Regular travel enabled me to manage time, coordinate with others and plan more effectively and somehow organically those skills seeped into regular life as well. Reflecting on the last year with covid, I figured I’ve been continuing to grow in this because now the responsibilities are expanded by being at home and managing both the personal and professional at the same time.
- Improved social skills/empathy –
Travel also gave me opportunities to interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds helping me improve my communication and social skills but also be more empathetic towards the people I met. I noticed the impact of this when I came back to work and was able to leverage these social skills with my clients and teams.
During the initial days of the pandemic, I struggled with social skills and empathy as we transitioned to a completely online world. As I was coping with the “new normal” I needed to first have empathy towards myself about not constantly being at the top of my game. And with time, I’ve realized I need to work more actively to ensure I make time for friends and family and social interactions with my teams while I also continued to focus on building my network. But all this, only after I’ve made time for self-care.
- Getting out of the comfort zone.
Well, I started my entrepreneurial journey during the pandemic, so I think that counts. 😊 But I pushed myself further, so I finally dabbled in trading – something I’ve always been nervous about. It’s been a few months now, I’m still a little uncomfortable, it continues to excite me and make me nervous and I’m continuing to work on it.
While I did a fairly decent job continuing to reap the benefits of growth that I would have got from travel, I didn’t do so well with my mental health. Here are some long-term benefits that travel enables.
Mental Wellness –
- Long-term mood-booster
Travel takes us away from our day to day, sometimes eases us off our responsibilities and just helps us relax hence reducing stress levels & helping us maintain a better mood. I’ve been struggling with this, and so for the last few weeks I’ve been taking breaks to do nothing – no cleaning, or cooking. Its been difficult to do this for longer durations but I’m a work in progress.
- Increased happiness quotient
Regular resets make us look forward to life & keeping us happy. And the fact that we are not getting these resets adversely affects this quotient. And then I read about a research which says that just planning travel can have almost the same effect as travel itself. Viola! I have been planning away and I can’t tell you how excited I am. Just exploring virtually has been fun, definitely more fun than not exploring at all.
- Improved energy level
A break always enables better productivity once we are back, and I have been dragging my feet without it. The remedy for me has been regular exercise and breaks even when staying home and it’s definitely been helping.
- Increased sense of belonging or independence
When traveling with loved ones, friends or family, our bonds deepen, and memories of those escapades continue to enhance relationships. And when traveling solo, we discover so much more about ourselves, we come into our own. Travel just makes this organic and now I’m starting to be more intentional about it. Making regular “me-time” and regular time for loved ones – almost calendarizing it so it then becomes a habit. And I can say that it has – no calendar needed anymore!
I hope my explorations help you normalize the no-travel world for a bit and figure out how you can continue to enrich your own life. Life is a journey in-itself so lets bring the adventure home!