Travel Can Make You a Better Person, If You Take Your Time to Connect…….

Travel is an education and a joy.

Travel makes me unwind, it frees my mind and somehow makes me more open to the universe and the possibilities, I tune in to my surroundings. I switch-off the tech, the kick-back and relax attitude happens as soon as I lock my front door and close my garden gate.  I just take things as I find them whilst savouring the journey.

Mark Twain said that Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these account. Wise words indeed and I know that by sitting down with strangers and experiencing life through the words and minds of others I have expanded mine.

Only bring what you need with you, be present in the now.

When I travel for pleasure I love to go off the beaten track (off-grid too) when I get the chance, sometimes on a whim. “Have toothbrush will travel” is one of my favourite expressions, I think I coined it in fact? I always have one in a pocket of my bag, with my wallet, phone, ixus camera and keys and my pocket vaseline.

Sometimes when travelling further afield on a quest for a change of scene to quell my itchy feet, my bag gets slightly larger expanding to house a change of clothes, toiletries, pouch of makeup, my retainer, passport,  and chargers for the tech we all breath often a little too deeply.

Not having a rigid plan, makes travel an education & builds resilience.

You never know when the opportunity for adventure will present itself so you have to be ready, don’t you?. Travel opens up your eyes and your mind and going alone makes you connect with the place and the people you come across in a more random yet focused way, making you take part”.

When I travel I limit the tech to 30mins a day, uploading some musings perhaps a story, a phrase a pic or to check-in with a brief email, insta or whatsapp  random update.

Travelling solo is often for the few but it’s worth trying to see what you learn about you?

I travel light, the perfect capsule bijou freedom knapsack with all that I need shoved under the seat whilst my knees touch the seat in front of me “what bliss”. It sounds poetic but the experience often isn’t, it’s a means to an end, a chance for freedom often at a bargain basement price.

The focus is on the experience, the place, the people, the culture, the food and the way of life as well as the local turn of phrase to add more colour in my mind, to escape and unwind.

Travel has a far reaching influence and is a great teacher if you take the time to listen.

I have travelled extensively and seen many sights but often it’s the people, a feeling, a view, a tranquil few hours and the culture that resonates most.

Some of my best conversations have been with strangers on my travels whilst I have been experiencing their culture. They have informed and amazed me with their philosophies, minds, their country insights and perspectives on the world.  I always want to know about the culture and what it’s really like to live where I visit and I have been lucky enough to meet and share experiences and conversations with many kind, open, intelligent people from around the world.

I have learnt so many valuable lesson whilst travelling but the three that I can recount immediately, the ones that have changed my outlook and left a lasting mark you cannot see are detailed in the writing below for you to read.

See the possibilities, talk to strangers, leave a mark.

In Manchester I spent an hour drinking coffee with a wise & articulate soul I met on a train, who asked me about the Thomas Hardy book I was reading . We started talking about our favourite reads and during our conversation he pulled up his sleeve to reveal a number imprinted there. I asked what the number meant and I discovered then that he had been a prisoner of war. We talked about life, the good and the bad and the possibilities, he advised exploring, talking to strangers, having compassion and making a mark.  He said I had to grasp it tight, that life was precious and not to squander a moment because it’s gone before you know it.

Value your freedom to explore.

A random conversation in Essaouira which turned into dinner and a discussion on faith, education and travel.  We discussed visas and working abroad and I was made aware of what a privilege I have in my freedom to travel, for some it is but a dream that will never be realised.

A smile and a few words are a powerful currency.

I fondly recall an “Emergency taxi driver in Harare Zimbabwe” met whilst venturing to the Mbari market (it must be over 20 years ago) where myself and my friend sat and discussed women’s rights.  He said he was informed by his beloved radio and the BBC world service.  He knew so much about world politics and life, his respect for women was immense, he said they’d rule the world, I said they already did 🙂  he smiled from his heart.  Saying one day he’d love to meet Mary Robinson who was some woman for one woman (the then President of Ireland, she would go on to become the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) , we all nodded our heads!.

When he dropped us off our friend (as he was that by then)  wouldn’t take any money and wished us a happy life. 

Our friends where we were staying that night had arranged a BBQ with a group of work colleagues, they collectively said how “we were brave to venture out” and asked us about our day.  To say they were “gobsmacked” would be an understatement when we said 1) we had been to Mbari market and 2) we had taken an emergency taxi and 3) that we’d spent an hour or was it two in conversation with an emergency taxi driver about life. 

I don’t remember our taxi drivers name, I wish I did but his lust for life, his smile and his perspective remains one of my fondest travel memories to this day.  He didn’t earn a lot or have a lot but he took time out of his day for conversation and to connect in a way that few would with strangers.

He gave us something money could not buy yet his wealth was not in his pockets but in his heart and his mind.  He taught us that a smile, a few words leading to a conversation often makes a connection which can build bridges & understanding and adds up to a valuable currency that if given should be treasured.

All of these precious moments have not only instilled in me a love of travel but influenced my thinking & how I deal with others.  It has enriched how I live my life making me a better person who takes time to walk in another’s shoes and to connect in a more authentic way. 

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