How to Develop Your Sense of Self During Travel

Alyssa Abel
05.10.2019
How to Develop Your Sense of Self During Travel
Author: Alyssa Abel
5.10.2019 11:10AM

Are you on your way to see the world? When it comes to broadening your horizons and growing your potential, travelling is a tremendous way to enhance both your perspective and yourself.

So, are you asking “how can I make the most of my globetrotting?” Trust yourself. Whether you’re studying abroad, solo travelling or embarking on another explorative experience, this is your chance to see what you’re made of. Find your inner voice, build your confidence and get in touch with your true nature while you travel.

Bearing this in mind, here’s how to discover yourself as you discover the world.

1. Explore on your own

Whether you're taking a couple's journey or heading off with a group, schedule some alone time.

Working at a summer camp, for example, is an incredibly rewarding experience, of which you’ll share with like-minded people. It’s an intense summer, so ensure that you make room for time on your own. On your days off, if you need to recharge your batteries, then do so. You have an entire summer to explore with your new friends, so self-care is an important pre-requisite to learning what you want from the experience.

Exploring on your own sets you free to explore your interests without pressure from others – and it allows you to be entirely self-reliant, maybe for the first time in your life.

Tour a museum you've dreamed of visiting solo. Lose yourself in the colours and sounds of a busy street on a sunny afternoon. Take a stroll and strike up a conversation with a friendly local. Independent exploration abroad helps you fully immerse yourself in your experience and the culture around you.

2. Adjust your expectations

Travelling internationally exposes you to people with radically different ways of life.

This helps develop your understanding of others, especially when you come up against unique cultural challenges. In addition to their people, new countries will present you with countless surprises and will change the way you think about the world.

When you first arrive, it’s not uncommon to compare your surroundings with your pre-existing expectations and try to shape your experience around certain stereotypes – but remember, travelling won’t be exactly what you expected. Yet, that is the beauty of it. No matter what you think you know about the country you’re travelling to, leave your mind open to absorb new perspectives and enjoy your experiences – whatever shape they take.

3. Find a place and make it your own

If you're staying abroad for an extended period, make a home away from home. Decorate your pad with trinkets you find during your explorations. Stock your kitchen, however modest, and learn how to cook in your host culture, combining new flavours you enjoy and getting a real taste for the area you’re exploring.

Even if you're travelling with a group, find your favourite spot. A local park or quiet coffee shop might be just what you need to feel at home. If possible, try commuting by bicycle rather than by cab or public transportation – this offers you the opportunity to see more and seek out private paradises.

When you work abroad, you’ll form an attachment with the area you’re based in. Whether through summer camp, au-pairing or being at a resort, the village, town, city or region will become one close to your heart. Locals tips, become yours. You’ll find yourself championing (and defending) it as a destination, protecting it like it’s your own. When you’re home, you’ll find yourself describing the little hidden gems you found, to family and friends who have never been. Suddenly, and inadvertently, this place has become your own.

4. Write it down

No matter how cliché it may sound, you’ll want to cherish your memories of your journey for a lifetime. Writing down your experiences helps preserve them – and helps you to process your emotions. Journaling your thoughts forces you to engage in a cognitive recall, recreating your adventures vividly on the page. Even if you struggle with putting pen to paper, stay with it. As with any skill, journaling becomes easier the more often you do it – and you might find it helps you notice the little things about your travels.

You can also find out more about keeping a travel journal on another one of our articles, 6 Advantages to Keeping a Travel Journal.

5. Keep your mind open

Travel isn’t always easy – but neither is self-growth.

To do either, you need to open yourself to change, expect the unexpected and embrace your explorations as a learning experience. Some of the most incredible moments on your adventure will come when you least expect it and when you're not looking for them. Be brave enough to be open to new opportunities, as the potential within them can be endless.

With an open mind and a strong sense of selfhood, the world is yours to discover.

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