Guest Post Author Bio: Miss T blogs at Prairie EcoThrifter. She grew up in the Canadian prairies and still lives there today. She is passionate about saving money, being healthy, looking out for our environment, and most of all having fun. Her blog shares tips on how you too can live a green, debt free, and fun life.
This week I am participating in a Yakezie blog swap where I am to answer the question ” Name a time when you splurged and were glad you did.” I had to seriously think about this for a minute and then it came to me. What do I consistently spend my money on that brings me the most enjoyment? Answer: Travel.
To say I love to travel would be an understatement. Travel for me is a life changing experience that I desire to re-live over and over again. I can think of a million reasons why I love to travel, but I thought I would boil it down to five.
1. Learn about myself. When I travel I gain a deeper understanding of myself and the world in general. Much of the experience is dependent on how different the environment is from what I am used to. When I traveled to Europe the first time, I got to try some different food and see how great it was to have a siesta in the middle of the day, but the transition was relatively painless. When I traveled to Central America last year for my honeymoon, I was a lot more out of my comfort zone. I was sleeping with tarantulas and geckos and trying food I couldn’t even pronounce. Plus, I couldn’t speak the language.
When I am in this kind of situation, I encounter things that I have never encountered before. I am forced to be on the alert because I don’t have any prior knowledge to rely on. Since everything is new, I am automatically forced to try to make sense of it all.
For many of us we have never really looked inside ourselves and examined what we are made of. When we are somewhere new, we have nowhere to hide. This is the point where you become really intimate with the ideas you have of yourself, of your ego, of life, which you may have been really identified to, and derived your sense of self from.
Your ego is essentially your self image; it’s the persona you display to society. Your ego survives only by constantly seeking approval from that which it wants to identify with. This is the society you are raised in. What happens when your family, friends, and your typical environment is not there to reinforce the ideas you have of your self? You ego becomes shaky; it starts to lose it’s hold on you. By traveling to the unknown, your ego falls apart and the true you is given the chance to emerge.
You begin to challenge and question everything you have ever believed. If you can be brave and not run away and use this as way to grow, you will see that all your beliefs belong to society and that they were never really yours to begin with. This can be extremely scary, liberating, nauseating and a million other things all at the same time.
I remember going through this very process when I traveled to Cuba. I knew intellectually that there were people in this world that weren’t as fortunate as me, but I was never able to fully understand that until I saw how some people lived in Cuba. I couldn’t help but reflect on what it would be like to never be able to own a home because the government owned everything and personal freedom didn’t exist. I wondered what it would be like to be so poor that I would have to walk around grimy city streets barefoot because I couldn’t afford shoes and it wouldn’t matter how many cuts I would get from broken glass because I had to get myself to work everyday on foot. That trip really shattered my ego and my mental models and when I arrived back home, I approached my own life very differently.
2. To do what I love. Interestingly, there are very few other areas of my life where I feel more at home and happy then when I am traveling. I really enjoy experiencing the unknown and all of the possibilities it has to offer. I guess I feel totally free; free from obligation and expectation. I am able to explore on my own terms and be who I want to be without negative consequences. When I am planning a trip, my excitement consumes me. I can’t help but wonder; what am I going to see? Who am I going to meet? What am I going to learn?
3. Re-live my youth. Unlike many of my peers, I skipped the university experience. When I graduated high school I went straight to working full time at my family’s business. It wasn’t until later in my life that I went back to university and got an education and got the job that I have now. I never had the opportunity to have 4 months off for 4 years and travel when I was younger. I was too focused on making money and buying my first house. I wanted to be an adult as fast I could.
Traveling now allows me to capture some of those stolen moments. The best thing is I have more money and resources behind me now so I can travel without incurring debt and causing financial strain which would have happened if I had done it in my younger days. I also have a partner to travel with, my husband, which allows us to grow and experience with each other by our side.
4. Redefine my boundaries. Being in a completely different environment than what I am used to excites me. I am somehow willing to try anything, regardless of what the consequences can be. When I was in Europe for the first time, I decided to try para-gliding in Austria. It was an amazing experience. However, if you would have asked me when I was still at home if it would run off of a mountain and free fall to the ground, I would probably have said “no way”. Being somewhere different allowed me to push my boundaries and cast my fears aside. Not only was it liberating and a ton of fun but it has made me push myself harder and further in other areas of my life which has only led to success.
5. Enhance my education. Learning through textbooks is not the same as learning hands on. I much prefer learning through experience. I find I never forget what I experience whereas I can forget what I have read.
Traveling allows me to enhance my education of the world around me through experience. I get to see first hand how something is made or used, or taste a food that I have never heard about before. I get to experience history by walking through castles and basilicas instead of reading about it or watching a documentary on TV. I get to discover the world for what it is first hand instead of through someone else’s eyes. I am able to learn about something honestly instead of through a tainted image painted by someone else.
The knowledge I have gained through my travels to date has enhanced my life and opportunities in so many ways. I have never learned something that hasn’t proven useful.
Travel isn’t cheap and to many is viewed as a luxury but to me it is something worth splurging on from one year to the next. The personal gains I get from my investment are invaluable!