I just had some of the best 6 months of my life!
I traveled eastward around the entire globe, bouncing between 16 countries spread over three continents. I began in July with a flight over the Atlantic and ended in January with a return trip over the Pacific.
I can’t tell you how many hours went into planning this trip — I had a wide open schedule as I can work remotely, and so, so many travel dreams (I still do), so it was nearly impossible to narrow down the itinerary (to fit a budget!).
Some of the key planning components ended up being spending summer in Europe, fall in Southeast Asia straddling the equator, and winter in Australia & New Zealand… essentially chasing one endless summer.
This trip gave me so much. Countless dreamy days & warm nights, which I had looked forward to from the start. But even more importantly, I arrived home from this trip as my favorite version of myself to date, which I hadn’t expected to happen in such a profound way.
I love the person that travel brings out in me. A short getaway to the beach can be restful & refreshing, but this trip was different. The most significant positives from this trip might not have been due to the specific places I visited, but the sheer length of the trip. They say it takes two months to build new habits — I really had time to develop new habits & views that seem to be lasting.
Travel really does change you!
Here are some changes I found in myself during my 6-month travels and since:
1. I value my time quite a lot.
I realized just how much you can do with a day, a week, a month, a year. You can really make dreams happen when you set your mind to it. Since getting home, I have been much more efficient and motivated in managing & maximizing my time.
2. I feel more wonder and excitement.
In everyday life, I can have a hard time feeling excitement for a new day or my surroundings in the midst of routine. But that doesn’t mean the wonder of just being alive and experiencing yourself is any less amazing. Feeling that genuine excitement almost everyday for six months helped me become more familiar with the feeling and able to identify it in the midst of routine.
3. I seek out new experiences whenever I can.
There are periods in life where time seems to fly by, and that always freaks me out. I think it happens when we settle into predictable routines, where our day-to-day does not change much. These six months of travel were quite the opposite of that… new places, people, languages, currencies, daily struggles, novel foods, means of transportation, religions, architectural styles, etc. etc. etc… and so time actually seemed to slow down! I prefer the feeling of soaking in every bit of time rather than letting it slip away, and I think new experiences help with that immensely.
4. I am less uncomfortable when my routines or plans are disrupted.
Travel forces you to be flexible. You can pre-book everything, plan a daily itinerary, arrange skip-the-line tickets with local guides and get travel insurance, but unexpected things will still happen, and you will still have to eat strange foods & sleep in unfamiliar beds.
But because you experience so much excitement alongside it, you are taught to embrace unfamiliarity. You see the benefits of straying from routine and becoming flexible in life. And that helps you enjoy daily life more overall.
5. I have healthier thoughts & mental habits.
Sometimes in day-to-day life, the world shrinks so much and we get bored, so we turn to pointless gossip or mindless social media consumption. But through travel, I feel like I’ve been reminded of how HUGE the world is and how many endless people & lifestyles exist. It’s now easier to focus my thoughts on new ideas, cultures, places, etc. instead of fixating on petty things that do not serve me well. So this keeps my perspectives wide and my mind & conversations healthier.
6. I have a more active lifestyle.
Speaking of healthy, I got tons of exercise from my 6-month trip. I did lots of hiking in places like New Zealand & the Alps, climbed endless stairs in hilly streets of Dubrovnik & Amalfi, and up 1,237 stairs to reach the Tiger Cave Temple in Thailand. Plus my favorite way to do sightseeing in new cities is just by walking around for hours. I loved the stamina I built up, and I ended up with more energy overall on a daily basis. Travel is definitely my favorite motivation for exercise.
7. I minimize & manage my physical stuff better.
I traveled with just one 50 L backpack. When I packed my clothing specifically, I was extremely intentional in only bringing things I could mix-and-match to create tons of outfits. I had two pairs of shoes — sneakers & hiking sandals. I brought a Chromebook, which is low-cost (and therefore less stressful to travel with) and lightweight. I also brought a camera, some medications, toiletries, a day bag, rain jacket, a few pieces of jewelry, swimsuits, and a few other odds & ends. I packed lightly so that I could take just a carry-on for flights, to avoid added fees & hassles. I had to practice a lot of self-control by not buying too many new things for those 6 months.
But it turned out that even with such a limited amount of things, I was still able to make some of the best memories of my life! So now that I’m home I’m looking to simplify & minimize a lot of my stuff, because I’ve realized that lends itself toward a lifestyle I love. I value memories & experiences over material possessions.
8. I have more confidence.
Successfully navigating all types of situations all around the world makes me feel totally equipped to handle anything in my daily life. I’m less afraid and carrying myself more confidently than ever.
This new version of myself is more free & alive.
Writing this all out, I have realized travel can be an excellent form of self-care!
I’m continuing to upload photos and reflect on memories & lessons. I have a feeling I might be doing so for years to come.
I love travel & the person it teaches me to be, now more than ever before.