>> Over the years I noticed travelling had an immensely positive impact on me. Especially solo travel can push us out of our comfort zone and teach us many aspects of our personalities. It highlights our strengths and weaknesses and helps us develop tools to live a richer & more fulfilling life. I knew I wasn’t the only one who reaped the benefits of travelling for personal development.
This guest post series introduces you to others who have, in one way or another, travelled for personal development: be it to learn a new language, to mend a broken heart or to overcome an anxiety. Hopefully it will encourage you to travel more yourself and perhaps even help you to overcome barriers. <<
Meet Julie who runs the blog Drive on the Left, together with her husband, who set off to leave America to travel the world long-term. They are now based in London. Read how travelling has strengthened their relationship. I promise you, you’ll want to read more – Julie’s narrative is simply beautiful! 🙂
Travel to Deepen your Relationship
New Year’s Day 2011, 4am. Backpacks bulging, my husband and I slowly made our way through the center of Portland, Maine, to the bus depot. It had been an epic winter so far, near record snowfall, with two more months of freezing temperatures and endless shovelling in sight. We were more than ready to get out of there.
We were about to embark on a journey around Southeast Asia. There, I hoped, we would reconnect, push beyond our comfort zone, and unearth all the hopes and dreams that day-to-day life tends to bury below laundry and groceries and friends and pets and errands and work.
There’s nothing like the start of a new year to open a brand new chapter of self-discovery.
The trip was also a test of endurance. I had a dream of traveling long-term and my partner in life was not quite convinced. I saw the Asia adventure as a way of convincing him that yes, in fact, we could stand to be in each other’s company 24/7 and yes, the goal of long-term travel is worth the years of savings and sacrifice.
Two months in Asia is a long time and it isn’t.
We spent our weeks traveling at breakneck speed, too excited to slow down. We gaped at horizons filled with more skyscrapers than we had ever seen (thank you Hong Kong!), and explored the backroads of Vietnam filled with villages and rice paddies and free roaming animals. We spent a blissful day at a place called Rabbit Island off the coast of Kep, Cambodia, where I made a note in my journal that life, in that moment, was perfect.
We also had our share of challenges, including one horrible travel day when we were trying to go to the train station in Saigon and ended up at the airport. Our non-refundable train tickets sweaty in our hands, we made the universal signs of choo-choo and frantically hauled ass across town once again to the waiting train, collapsing in our seats mere moments before departure.
I’m still in awe of the scrappy dogs we saw along the way, those that look both ways before crossing the street and who defy death daily. We frequently joked that our pup, back home in the care of a friend, was probably wearing a coat outside in the snow while someone shovelled a path for him around the yard.
Before long, we were on the long trip home, to the laundry and groceries and friends and pets and errands and work. Our photos graced every clear surface but the memories quickly started to blur and fade.
So, what of my grand ambitions for clarity and connection? Of pushing beyond our comfort zone?
As is often the case, it wasn’t until years later that I saw the impact of our travels in Southeast Asia on my life. Upon arriving home to lingering snow, we slowly put plans in place to move to New York City, which then led to London where we are now. My husband started down the very long path to understanding that his chosen career wasn’t an ideal fit and today, five years after the fact, his work is location-independent and fully mobile.
It’s crystal clear to me now that our short time in Southeast Asia was pivotal in so many ways.
Growth and development can be an arduously slow process, and the steps from A to B to C are not always clear and obvious. The seeds that are planted may take many seasons to germinate. Just because we can’t always see growth doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
These days, we are still growing into the vision that we created in Asia. By all accounts, our current lifestyle of traveling frequently and freely around Europe is charmed and idyllic. The links to that first journey are all but forgotten. But they are there. Those seeds have taken root.
What about you? Do you think travelling would strengthen your relationship? I would love to read your thoughts in the comment section below.
Julie Smith is an American expat living in London with her husband Drew. Together, they travel the world and write about it on their site, Drive on the Left. When the suitcases are put away, you can find them binge watching British dramas on the BBC (so good!) or having a pint at their local pub.
Pin it for later!