How Travel Teaches Us the Art of Letting Go

In our society today, especially in first-world countries, we can get caught up in societal pressures and standards of living. Our daily “first-world problems” can often overcome us and leave us stressed and anxious. We can find ourselves worry about career progression and measuring our accomplishments to others. We can find ourselves giving in to societal pressure of buying brand names and the newest high-tech gadgets, believing those advertisements that we NEED them to be happy.

Thoughtful travel can teach us to let go of all these expectations and pressures overtime. It opens our eyes to a world of many realities, many standards of living, and many contrasting “rules” to live by.

What exactly does travel teach us to let go of and how? Below are 3 Things You Learn to Let Go of when you’re on the road:

  1. Let go of the myth that buying expensive things will bring you happiness.

You realize you were so happy out there on the road with only a couple shirts, grubby pants, and a dirty backpack. You come back and realize you no longer care about getting the new iPhone and chasing after brands, or even buying new clothes. You realize these things don’t actually bring you happiness because you already felt happy without them.

2. Let go of expecting everything to be perfect.

Letting go of expecting everything to go the way you want or plan is a hard lesson most travellers learn on the road. Since when does everything go as planned on a backpacking trip or any trip for that matter? There are always surprises, always setbacks, always arguments. It’s these crazy life experiences that help you grow as a person. In the comfort of your home, in the safety of the familiar, how will you ever grow this exponentially in such a short amount of time?

3. Let go of your pride.

Consider this scenario: You’re in a foreign country and everyone is looking at you like you’re an idiot … All you want to do is find the toilet … But as you struggle to pronounce the word “toilet” in the local language, you must admit you’re obviously not saying it right because everyone is staring blanking back at you.

On the road, you’re suddenly faced with everything and anything life can throw at you, from people trying to cheat you on every corner, to humbly trying to get by with a few phrases in a foreign language, to feeling like no matter how high your education is, you actually know very little about this vast world and how it actually works.

You put yourself in so many embarrassing situations, when you get back home, there’s pretty much nothing that can embarrass you anymore. You’ve experienced it all, and suddenly have a new found ability to shrug it all off. You come back humbled, and suddenly, you understand so much that your former self didn’t even know you lacked.

You trade your pride for self-assurance.

You come to accept the fact that the more you learn, the less you know.

Why do we travel? Why do we want to venture off into the unfamiliar? Why do we want to put ourselves out there at our most vulnerable letting ourselves feel self-doubt and uncertainty? The answer is unique to each traveler, but I believe only when we do that do we start to truly learn about the world and ourselves, and finally learn to let go of all those things that hold us back.

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