Now that I’ve started Pivot Journeys, I hear them all the time. Stories from tons of people about trips they’ve taken that have changed their lives.
Some people tell me about how a certain trip gave them clarity and direction about what came next in their career. Others have gained the confidence through a big trip to take on a big challenge, like running a marathon. And some have made permanent changes to their daily habits and health because of the time and space they had to reflect on what’s really important.
Travel is powerful.
There are a few things I’ve noticed that all these people and their trips had in common. So if you're looking for a really influential trip, try making sure that your next getaway includes the following six elements:
1. Go somewhere totally new – better yet, make it a new international destination.
This is the number one thing that seems to make trips life-changing. Being in a new environment is the best way to break out of your everyday routine and open your mind to what’s possible.
New places promote fresh ideas, possibilities, and connections. International travel in particular is eye opening with the potential for such different sights, sounds, tastes, and smells.
2. Go alone.
There is something about traveling alone that makes this experience all the more meaningful and personal. It makes the trip all about you! What you want, what you need, what you are interested in and drawn to.
Being on your own allows you to be unscheduled and unrestricted in your time and energy. Feel like exploring a new museum on your own time? Great. Want to spend hours people watching over espresso with a good book at a cafe? Go for it. Interested in making friends with that mysterious foreigner? You don’t need anyone’s permission.
3. Try something different, maybe even a little scary.
When people do something that scares them a little, the payoff is often that much more significant and rewarding. I’m not saying you have to go ziplining or climb to base camp on Mount Everest, but doing something that stretches you can give you the confidence to take on bigger challenges and opportunities back home.
4. Go for at least a week.
Most of the people who have shared stories with me about their big journeys were gone for a long time - weeks or months.
They talk about how it takes a week to unwind and leave the stresses of home behind, and then a week to get into the swing of things. It’s hard to find that kind of time. But making sure your next trip is at least a week will really allow you to leave behind your daily grind and reflect.
5. Embrace the discomfort.
To really take a leap and try something new all on you own, you have to be willing to embrace the discomfort that inevitably results. When I’ve taken big trips, I try and remind myself that the fun part is ‘flying by the seat of your pants’. (Though telling this to someone who speaks another language may result in confusion when they don’t understand the translation!)
Stepping out of your comfort zone builds mental muscle and resilience that sticks with you when you get home. People report they’re more able to navigate those life-changing habits, career moves, and challenges that they decided on while traveling.
6. Don’t worry about getting lost.
You'd be surprised how many people have told me they’ll take a bus or train and get off at a random stop and then find their way home from there. There’s something about having to figure out where you came from that helps you actually find out you’re going, if you know what I mean.
And it might seem like everyone has it all figured out when you’re scrolling through status updates on Facebook. But really, no one knows exactly what’s next in their life, and how they’re going to get there. We’re all just trying to figure out our own paths to success and happiness in this world. Sometimes getting lost actually helps us find ourselves.
Need more inspiration to get out there? Pivot Journeys will be featuring stories on our blog from a variety of people who talk about their life-changing trips; what made them decide to go, where they went, and how it turned out from them.
Got a story to share with the Pivot community? We’d love to hear about your journey - drop us a line!