We all love the version of ourselves that we become when we travel, slipping into our own personal version of Dean Moriarty from On The Road: confident, sexy, unstoppable. We effortlessly become energized, alive, connected, we can all recognize this new sense of self and yet it can still feel somewhat illusive.
I’ve spent lots of time on the road and subsequently plenty of moments back at home, which has given me the chance to examine what creates this magical travel alter ego. What is it about this version of ourselves that we love? What is effortlessly changing when we travel? And most importantly how can we be this person all the time, not just when new lands lie ahead?
Here are some of the key components I have identified about the aspects of ourselves that emerge when exploring the unfamiliar. Learn to recognize them and embrace them, no matter where you are in the world!
1. You say yes more often.
When traveling, experience the moment fully and without conscious effort; it helps you embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Throw yourself into events without second thought and before you know it, you’re dancing the cumbia right along with the street performers. Sit and have coffee with all sorts of characters finding that perceived differences do not equal an inability to connect. Eat squid tentacles and fall in love with pirates. Simply say yes; your life becomes richer.
2. You believe in love.
When you travel, you’re ready to be impressed. Travel comes with optimism. Once on the plane, you believe that anything could happen; a city could dazzle you, a lover may catch you off guard, a display of talent might leave you happily overwhelmed. Wake up each day and expect to be impressed, be excited to see what lies outside your door, and believe you will meet amazing people. So guess what? You do.
3. You’re honest.
Enter a new city and you are anonymous, so without meaning to, you become more open. Tell stories that you normally keep hidden. Answer stranger’s questions without fear of revealing new sides of yourself. Unabashedly reveal new layers. Stop with the script. Just simply be yourself. All of this honesty is freeing, so keep at it.
4. You’re curious.
Ask questions of people that cross your path and genuinely listen to their answers. You’ll want to know what lies around the next sand dune so you go and find out. Look at what is in front of you and then question what might be hidden. Think outside of yourself. Simple. Your own internal dialogue subsides, you become inquisitive, and when you get answers, yearn to learn more.
5. You lean on (and help) other people.
Travel can throw some curve balls your way, and it can make you feel vulnerable, but luckily we are all in the same boat. So help someone else out, sympathize with your bus mates, hug strangers, laugh through shared experiences. Connect instead of feeling like you’re alone; enter into a collective community. Help each other out; it feels good.
6. You stay present.
Embrace the sentiment ‘live for today.’ So much is consuming you when you travel that you stop planning for tomorrow. See plans as flexible, become consumed by what is right in front of you, actively take note of the details so that you won’t forget the moment.
These things happen when we travel and often times we hardly notice. We feel good and so there is no need to analyze. Come home and refuse to slip back into your old way of doing things, stay present, stay connected, keep saying yes.