go to content go to search box go to global site navigation

Lonely Planet blog

Thorn Tree

Does travel change you?

By admin   21 September 2009 1:56pm Europe/London

lurifernandesDoes travel fundamentally change you? That’s a question our community members are currently pondering.

Sure, it can alter your perspective on things, at least for a while. But can a trip truly transform you, or is that just feel-good nonsense?

The consensus seems to be that you have to be at least a little open-minded to be changed and it helps if you venture outside your comfort zones.

We asked a couple of Lonely Planet staff members what they thought.

For Mark, it’s meta: “I find that travel changes people, but only in the sense that they come to realise who they are deep down. So, if anything, it is a meta-change. For instance, waiting ten hours for an Indian train to arrive may make you realise the limits of your patience. In essence, travel provides extreme moments like these, which allow us to confirm our idea of ourselves.”

Jane says, “The biggest change I find is when you come home and you realise that, at home, you look down. When you’re in a new city you’re constantly looking up and around in wonder at all the amazing details of things you’ve never seen before. So come home and look up! It’s amazing how refreshing your home town can be if you put your wide, open, tourist eyes on.”

When I come home, things always feel smaller. I’ve had my mettle tested and learned things both delightful and confronting about myself. I’ve invested serious time overseas and had those ‘through the looking glass’ experiences that bring you and your homeworld into sharper focus. Travel has ensured my curiosity doesn’t atrophy – and that’s nothing but good.

erixHere’s some other takes from travellers on our Facebook fan page:

Boon Hiong Chan reminds us that “For some, travelling broadens the horizon. For some, they change from thinking that they are better to believing that they are indeed better.”

Vanessa Laraine says, “it’s changed my perspective and made me realise there are very few situations in life that are truly catastrophic (learnt this in Bulgaria when my bus didn’t turn up, and an old toothless man though I was coming on to him)”

For Amanda Kathryn Scoggins, importantly, you can’t undo the journey: “If you really don’t want it to, maybe not, but overall I think so, definitely. I have traveled a lot and lived overseas as well and I always feel a bit like Frodo or Bilbo, not quite fitting in in the Shire anymore when I come back .”

Lisa Mitchell thinks where you go makes the difference.  “I’ve been all over the world, but until I spent time in a developing country, I’ll admit that I didn’t feel changed. Sure, going up the Eiffel Tower is exciting, but did it change me? No. However, learning how to emotionally come to terms in the face of *real* poverty and appalling social conditions in India? Yes. One of the most life-altering things I’ve ever gone through. Words aren’t enough.”

Herbert Bryant nails that slightly disembodied feeling of coming home:  “The here and now no longer seem as normal, neither here nor there. After travel, home has a freshness to to it not sensed before. It’s a process of de-familiarizing, of making new, like poetry.”

How about you?

[Photo: Courtesy Iuri Fernandes, erix!/Flickr]