9 Self Development Strategies to Try When Travelling
Travel broadens your horizons and introduces you to new ways of seeing the world. While you know you can control your destination, it’s equally as important to realize you have control of your personal growth — and travel is the perfect time to develop it.
Why would you want to work on yourself while you're away? Heading overseas and self development go hand in hand and travel can inspire positive change in your life. Don’t choose to remain a passive passenger on your journey — expand your inner horizons, as well. Here are a few self development strategies to try while you travel:
1. Just do it
Maybe you've dreamed of studying abroad for a semester, but you haven't done the necessary legwork. Make 2020 the year you resolve to act on your impulse. After all, you'll never again be the age you are now. Take advantage of the opportunity to broaden your horizons.
Take the same attitude when you reach your destination to make the most of travel and personal growth. Perhaps you've never eaten baba ganoush, and you don't know if you'll like it. Order it anyway! If you don't care for the taste, you're out the cost of one meal. If you do, you might discover a new favourite dish. The spirit of exploration helps you make the most out of your adventure.
2. Go off on your own
Even if you're travelling with a group, plan some time to take off solo. Why? Independent exploration frees you from the expectations of others. It also permits you to set a schedule that suits your needs. Do you want to spend hours getting lost in an art museum? Your cohorts might get bored, but if you're alone, you can take all the time you desire.
It's important to keep safety in mind, of course. Walk with confidence, as if you know where you're going — even if you're a little lost. Keep a map on hand or make sure you have a way to identify your location, but take control and practice your independence. Without practising cultural appropriation, think about dressing like the locals do — for example, if modesty is valued, cover your shoulders, and wear longer shorts or capris.
3. Try something new daily
The essence of travel is exploring unique experiences you can't enjoy at home. When you're making your daily itinerary, schedule something new every day of your trip. It doesn't have to entail a significant outlay of time or money. You might decide to visit a different coffee shop or take a new route to the university where you study.
Remember, you don't have to fall in love with each new thing you try. Part of the personal growth process is discovering who you are. You're having fun exploring, not performing a chore.
4. Keep a journal
You don't have to be the next Shakespeare to put your insights on paper. Plus, a funny thing happens when you write — the more regularly you do it, the easier it becomes. Besides, you want to capture every precious memory as it occurs, so you can look back on your adventure and smile.
Writing is one of the best self development strategies there is. Journaling helps you process your emotions and fit new experiences into your mental schema. It enables you to develop as a person.
5. Hone a developing skill
Are you travelling to a country where you speak only a little of the native tongue? If so, take advantage of this immersion opportunity to hone your skills. Yes, it's easier to look for English-language translations, and many hotels do hire bilingual staff. However, as much as possible, try to communicate in the local language. You'll gain proficiency more quickly and develop a deeper understanding of the way communication reflects thought processes.
6. Meet new people
Author Mark Twain once said, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness." Often, people adopt xenophobic attitudes out of fear or ignorance. They don't understand why people act the way they do. But once they know the significance of traditions, they demonstrate a higher level of tolerance and respect. Take the time to talk to people you don't know. Chat with someone sitting alone at the café or connect with another student in your new country. You might forge a new friendship.
7. Challenge your fears
Another way to tend to your personal development while travelling is to challenge your fears. Perhaps you’re scared of planes, taking the train alone, studying a new subject or speaking to people in another language. Take the opportunity, anyway. The exhilarating rush you get from facing something you're afraid of — and conquering it — will instil newfound confidence in you.
8. Get spiritual
If you are secure in your religious faith, you won't feel shaken by the views of others. Learning how other cultures celebrate the spiritual side of human nature is a critical self development strategy. Visit a house of worship that is foreign to you — call ahead to inquire about dress codes. Learn about the cultural significance of shrines instead of merely snapping photographs.
Taking time for mindfulness each day daily you quiet your mind and make sense of your experiences. Sometimes, you need reflection time to absorb the lessons you've learned. You might want to let go of guided meditation practices, and instead, sit quietly to observe your thoughts or notice what’s going on around you. Through appreciating your surroundings and your own emotions, you become aware of the judgments you've made, and you can let go of negative thoughts, instead focusing on what’s real and beneficial.
Improve yourself with these self development strategies while you see the world
All travel drives personal growth — but by taking more chances and making the most of your trip, you can help yourself grow even more meaningfully. Whether you’re studying abroad, attending a summer camp or embarking on an international holiday, try the self development strategies tips above to explore yourself further as you explore the world.
About the author
Alyssa Abel is a student life writer whose passions include travel inspiration, study abroad and self-development. Read more of her work on her blog, Syllabusy.