I've often read that people learn a lot about themselves when they travel. They also gain an experience, an appreciation of the world that is beyond compare.
Read the first two links I posted up. One of them is an advice to a young woman on the benefits of travel and why she should travel now. The other one is about a 70 year old man who has suffered two strokes and still gets to travel.
I've not traveled as much as some of my friends. Most of my trips have been mainly underwater scuba diving expeditions. I've been to the Maldives, Manado, Komodo, West Papua, Spratly Islands, Sipdan, Niue (South Pacific), several times. I wish I could say the joy of being in such beautiful pristine environments impacts me to the core of my being. But I look back at them and most of them feel stale - it was a momentary fleeting moment of wonder. I try and capture that in photos - and that works weakly.
Have I changed? Have I become a better person? Or someone who is addicted to a experiential, carefree lifestyle?
I would like to say I've become a more open person, more generous, more caring, less insular, less parochial - more adventurous - possibly a better person. And surely all that adventures would have a positive impact on my psyche - as opposed to not going and staying at home.
I am actually still a bit terrified of travel - I'm fearful of going to a foreign land and getting lost among people whom I cannot communicate with. My experience trying to learn Mandarin in Singapore schools was a very harrowing experience. It was hour upon hour of WTF. I just couldn't understand a language that didn't develop an alphabet and depended upon hieroglyphs. No one managed to explain to me that languages are like games, some have different rules.
But if I'm in the mood - "the fuck it let's do it kind of feeling" I get every now and then - I could walk through fire twice.
The other problem I have with traveling is - the desire to share a particularly poignant moment with someone special. I mean - hey, you go see something beautiful, spectacular and well, you want to share it with someone close to you. Most of the places I tend to like tends to verge on the romantic and gosh if I go to such areas without someone -it feels scathingly lonely.
But I try and do it to challenge myself. By nature I tend to be quiet, withdrawn, shy and I need to open up more. Meet more people. But often I find myself adrift in a sea of strangers, like a raft on a vast uncaring ocean.
You find yourself among people you do not know and they are all conversing with one another - and then suddenly you feel so alien. But I also get that feeling when I'm at a bar or restaurant or party by myself. At least if I am in a foreign place, I can somehow excuse my own social ineptitude by blaming the language barrier. haha