Once upon a time, I was an armchair traveler stuck in a life of work, marriage, and homeownership that didn’t feel good to me. I’d sit on my couch flipping through travel magazines and books longing to roam freely in far-off exotic places. During my childhood, I vacationed up and down the east coast of the United States with my family and loved exploring each new place. But somewhere on my life path, I stuffed that wanderlust down deep inside me and travel ceased.
During that dormant time, I actively started a spiritual and personal journey. I read self-help books, prayed, and encountered major life lessons that advanced my self-growth. It was when I finally succumbed to my gypsy soul and started traveling that my personal and spiritual growth catapulted to another level. Travel tested my self-imposed boundaries, opened my eyes and mind to endless possibilities, and transformed me into the person I am today.
Now, I didn’t take a big leap and start traveling the world immediately. For me, both travel and personal growth was a step by step process. First I traveled with friends, by myself in my own country, and then with an organized mission group to South Africa. Eventually, I jumped on a sailboat with strangers which lead me to backpack solo in Thailand. Each trip was a separate step that sparked another growth spurt, which is why I believe travel is one of the best ways to nurture spiritual and personal awareness.
Here are 6 ways you can jump-start your personal and spiritual journey through travel:
1. Get Off the Resort
Yes, we all need complete relaxation and pampering from time to time. And for some, traveling anywhere alone or new is completely frightening. So, if this is where you are on your journey, please start there! However, I believe real growth happens when we venture beyond the comfy “touristy” areas and observe the local scene, culture, landscape, and people. Not only does it allow a glimpse into a different lifestyle, beautiful scenery, and interesting people, but it also provides you with a deeper appreciation for what you have and the life you live.
2. Travel Solo
Sounds scary I know, but the benefits are great! Traveling alone teaches independence, improves confidence, and deepens intuition. It also reveals strengths and weaknesses such as navigational skills, languages, meeting people and following your intuition. Ultimately you discover that you’re capable of traveling by yourself, making your own choices, finding your way, and talking to strangers. And one thing to keep in mind… .you are never really all alone. There are people everywhere to talk to and assist you.
3. Travel With A Group of Strangers
I did this first in South Africa with a mission group and then on a sailboat in the Caribbean. You quickly learn how to communicate effectively, compromise, and respect others despite your differences, otherwise, there can be drama and hurt feelings! It also expands your circle of international connections and feeling connected is vital to our spiritual growth.
4. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and Do Something You Fear
Doing something you fear is a huge step in personal growth! Fear prevents us from truly living and doing things we desire. So pushing beyond the fear and accomplishing something you deemed impossible is a huge confidence boost! It invokes a sense of empowerment because you know “If I can do that, I can do anything!” And maybe you even realize there was nothing to fear and you can’t wait to do it again.
5. Talk and LISTEN to People
Each one of us is a tiny part of the universe. By listening to others about their cultures, ideas, religions, ways of life, joys and struggles, our own knowledge, compassion, and perspectives deepen and expand. This strengthens our understanding that we’re all more alike than different because at the core of all people is the desire to feel love, joy, peace, and happiness.
6. Go on a Spiritual Retreat
Spiritual retreats are a perfect way to combine travel with a specific self-discovery intention through meditations, journaling, classes, and healing sessions. Retreats can be for a weekend or over the course of weeks. Some have specific themes and others are customized to your needs. You can travel to known spiritual areas such as India or Machu Picchu or a nearby city. No matter what you choose, traveling to a retreat provides the time and space to focus on the inner self without life’s daily distractions and the chance to explore a new place.
Despite being at different stages and having unique goals, we’re all on some kind of spiritual and personal adventure, and the key to remember is. . . growth is a process that happens gradually. So start wherever you are at this present moment and move forward one step at a time. If you travel but not by yourself, try a solo trip. If you always travel solo, do something you fear like diving or mountain climbing. If you’ve never been outside your own town, visit a neighboring city. Simply pick one suggestion that makes you uncomfortable or resonates with you and