Travel has seen me through my darkest and lightest moments, from fumbling along in Spanish trying to order myself a mojito, to unearthing new character traits and skills that I never knew I had. Here are 10 ways travel has shaped, moulded and catapulted me into becoming the woman I am today.
My priorities have shifted
We’re all guilty of being a little (or in my case, a lot) materialistic. As a young woman, I felt the pressure of having to have the newest phone, the trendiest outfits and the best make up. When I started travelling, I realised that ‘things’ eventually break or fade. But experiences last forever, and the self-growth I took away from each trip has become a gift that keeps on giving.
I've become more independent
Adulting is pretty exhausting, and like any other young adult, I’m constantly questioning whether I’m actually doing it right. At home, I’m still known to give the odd panicked phone call to the bank of mum and dad, but while I’m travelling I have no option but to trust my instinct and act responsibly. It’s always a solid reminder that I’m more capable than I think.
It helped my identity crisis
Growing up mixed race, I always felt like I didn’t totally fit in. As I got older and started travelling, I realised I was part of a huge community of Afro-Europeans. Finding these beautiful pockets of blackness in every country I went to made me realise I can connect with my heritage wherever I am. Feeling like I’m the master of my own identity and destiny has helped me figure out who I am.
I've become more social
Part of the reason I (or anyone) travels is to make connections with people. Whether it’s making new travel buddies for life, solidifying friendships on the trip of a lifetime, or just getting to know locals as I immerse myself in their way of life has made me come out of my shell and seek new connections at home.
It improved my mental health
For someone who has suffered from perpetual anxiety pretty much since birth, travelling instinctively feels impossible. It’s not until I’m actually on the trip that it does absolute wonders for my mental wellbeing – giving me mindfulness, perspective, and new challenges that I’m able to overcome. Away from the expectations of home, it’s taught me to deal with my anxiety in a new way.
It put things into perspective
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the little things. One spilt matcha latte over my top and I’m pretty much in meltdown mode. Travel reminded me that the world is frickin’ huge, and all of a sudden the minor issues that made me feel like it was the end of the world seemed petty and irrelevant. Nothing is more important than your wellbeing and your happiness.
It exposed me to a new side of myself
Haggling my way to a good deal, navigating my squad back to the hotel after getting lost, successfully booking myself a table in a totally new language – every time I stepped out of my comfort zone, I thrived. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you don’t have your comforts as crutches, and you’ve got nowhere to hide and no option to shy away.
I'm more globally minded
It was travel that encouraged me to learn a new language, pursue a new career path, and always strive to learn more about other cultures and customs. It’s meant I’m more engaged in global current affairs, and more open to new experiences. There are so many benefits of being globally minded, and thinking outside of the parameters of your own city and culture. I’ve started adopted new ways of looking at things and lifestyle changes that I picked up from my travels, and it’s changed my life for the better.
I'm adaptable AF
Anyone can tell you that no matter how meticulously you plan your trip, something is bound to go wrong at some point. Travel is super unpredictable, and I had to quickly learn to think on my feet in unfamiliar situations – like navigating my way around a city with no phone and no grasp of the local language. Suddenly, having to take an alternative route due to train strikes back in London felt like childs play!
I've become more aware
Growing up, I thought that recycling was the epitome of living and travelling in an eco-conscious way. Boy, was I wrong. When you visit some countries, you can see how what you do and how you live affects others. I learned to do my research about the best way to support the economy of the country I’m going to, how to give back to local communities, respect local cultures and customs, and keep my carbon footprint and waste to an absolute bare minimum – both at home, and when I travel.