How Traveling Can Help You Understand Me, Myself, and I

“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’” – Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

Without a doubt the number one reason why I love to travel and live abroad is because it forces me to learn more about myself. Through traveling I gain a deeper understanding of myself and the world in general. Today I briefly want to describe how traveling can help you go through an inner transformation.

There comes a point in a long-term travelers’ journey where they begin to question many things, they may begin to feel as if they are losing themselves.

I want to try to point out that if you do find yourself in this position, to not be afraid. Being in this space is an opportunity for amazing growth. I will try to offer some guidance on what you can do to learn and expand from this experience.

How Does Traveling Help You Grow As a Person?

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey

Much of your experience depends on how different your environment is from what you’re used to. If I am American and move to London, sure, I am going to have a great time, but the transition will be fairly painless.

Moving to a completely different country in which your clearly out of your comfort zone is key. In This type of situation you will encounter many things for which you have no reference for. This automatically puts you in a different level of awareness, you’re forced to be alert, and you can’t rely on your old knowledge. This heightened sense of awareness will allow you to see things you never saw before, in yourself and the world.

Since everything is new and if you can’t speak the language you are automatically forced to try to make sense of it all. Typically our attention and energy is going out into the world. Now, if you stay watchful you will see your attention going inward.

Embarking on Your Inner Journey

For many of us we have never really looked inside ourselves. But now we have nowhere to hide, we need to look. This is the point where you will become really intimate with the ideas you have of yourself, of your ego.  Things which you may have been really identified to and derived your sense of self from.

Your ego is essentially your self-image; it’s the mask you display to society. Your ego only survives by constantly seeking approval from that which it wants to identify with. This is the society you are raised in. Therefore all the unhappiness you experience comes from the constant battle of your ego seeking approval in the outside world.

What happens when your family, friends, and your typical environment is not there to reinforce the ideas you have of yourself? They become shaky; they start to lose their grip on you. Living in the unknown your ego falls apart and the real you begins to emerge.

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” – Alan Keightley

You will begin to challenge and question everything you have ever believed. If you don’t run away and use this as a way to grow, you will see that all your beliefs belong to society, they were never really yours. This can be extremely scary, liberating, nauseating, and a million other things all at once.

Now you may come to a point to where you feel completely lost, where everything you once knew is now seen as an illusion. But simultaneously you also get a tremendous feeling of freedom, freedom from all that was false. Now your journey really begins.

If you keep trucking along, losing and questioning many of your beliefs will lead you to develop trust in yourself. Trust is something society can’t give you; trust comes from your own experiences.

You may even feel a new quality or type of consciousness growing in you. Keep walking my friend; this is your opportunity to live a life of awareness, a life of authenticity.

You can only be authentic through your own understanding. Developing your trust will give you the courage to continually make the leap into the unknown.

The Key Skill That Traveling Can Instill is Observation

Traveling can help you to constantly be in state of observation, a watchful state. Learning to watch is the key in learning about oneself. You need to learn to be a passive observer of your mind, of your thought process. You learn that to control and suppress only leads to inner conflict. Just by constantly remaining in a state of watchful aloofness, you will see how the number of thoughts you have naturally comes down. You will be living in a meditative state; meditation is simply the art of learning to watch.

Learning to watch your mind you will come to know its positive and negative tendencies. Learn from them. You may even feel like you are turning on yourself. Expanding your consciousness will allow you to see your own faults; you bring them out into the light. Don’t feel bad, just by seeing them clearly they will begin to fall on their own. They where only existing because you where unconscious of them.

Developing a quiet mind will allow you to catch glimpses of really being in the here and now. For the typical tourist they may be under the Eiffel Tower but they are still thinking of things from back home, along with all the anxiety that that brings. Then when they are back at home, their experience of the Eiffel Tower is vague.  It’s vague because they where not really present.

Continuing Your Growth

I would advise anyone to incorporate meditation daily into there lives. If you are new to meditation as a general guideline try to meditate one minute for every year of your age. If you are 26, meditate 26 minutes daily.

If you know nothing about meditating educate your self and find something that works for you. The easiest method is “Vipassana”, which is just learning to watch your outgoing and incoming breath. Like I said earlier, mediation is the art of learning to be a detached witness, yet being very alert, having a sensitive mind.

Incorporating daily mediation will help you become more even minded, and cultivate your ability to observe and be a witness to your daily life.

I am currently working on a small yet in depth guide on how to practically practice meditation in our lives, if you would like to know when its finished sign up for my newsletter.

In traveling and living abroad learn to be with your silence. When you are bored don’t escape into entertainment like TV and internet. Remember that you don’t know how long you will be in your host country – make the most of it. Go on a walk and get lost in your city, there is always something you can be doing and learning.

If you are thinking of traveling abroad, I hope that I inspired you to go on a quest of personal growth. Wishing you the best….God Speed my friend.

If you enjoyed this post please help me out by passing it along to your friends and ‘like’ our Facebook Page. Also, if you have any of your own insights please share them in the comments section.

16 Responses to How Traveling Can Help You Understand Me, Myself, and I

  1. Hi Ivan, great read here. Your opening line for the video says it all. “Life is short. See the world. Do it.” I experienced a bit of this inward journey several years ago when I stayed in Indonesia for 2 months. Now for some 2 months would seem like a long time but I found it to be very short. It seemed like it was only when I had to leave that I was just starting to get most comfortable.

    Staying in a place where you are outside of your normal comfort zone can be intimidating and it was hard to not shut down and close off from people but this is the opposite of what should be done. This is the opportunity to let go of the inhibitions and make real connections with people. This to me is the real journey to finding out who you really are.

    Following and reading about your own journey on this blog has really been an inspiration for me to continue my own quest for personal growth. I am making plans to return to Indonesia, this time for a much longer period of time and I hope that I will discover new aspects of myself as well as immerse myself within the culture. Hopefully be able to catch up with you at some point. 🙂

    • thanks for sharing your experiences my friend…I hope you get to continue your journey is the near future…would be great up me up somewhere in the well…talk soon 🙂

  2. I completely agree how observation is one of the key skills that long-term travel can give you. My husband and I recently returned to the States for a family visit and learned so much about our “hometowns” because we’re now looking at them with new eyes. And, we questioned so much of what we took as “normal” in the States after spending so much time abroad.

    As you write, these skills can also be used for looking at yourself to observe why you act (or react) in certain ways and to recognize and question assumptions.

    • thank you so much for sharing Audrey, I am glad you could relate :)…awesome site by the way..good luck on the rest of your travels :) well 🙂

  3. Yes, I love it. I think travel should be obligatory. I can’t understand people who don’t want to travel. I think going through a few hardships (uncomfy journey, bad food, loneliness) makes you stronger. And interacting with other cultures makes you more accepting of other people and more knowledgeable about what’s important in life and what isn’t:)

  4. Beautiful man, the ideas here are very expansive and I love to get to relate to what you’re saying through my travels. It’s interesting how when we look inward we always find similar guiding wisdom, so in your words, its all about trusting that voice inside.

    Another advantage that the wanderer travelling mantra provides is once we identify the inner patterns of our mind, we are given so much room to let go and just allow our world to change. The problem with being in an environment where our focus and time is constantly being vied for by friends, family and a set job is we are forced to get anxious, forced to squeeze our energy into our projects and never really have the room to do what we need to do, just let go. Traveling has allowed me to face challenges with a new approach, not mitigating every situation but just holding to my positive vision of the outcome and just believing that the universe will conspire. This is of course possible in the confides of society, and while more difficult, I think may be the ultimate lesson and the next step of the journey. For me, it always goes back to that wonderful Emerson quote

    “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinions; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude”

    I think this relates a lot to the inner game. I look at it as our ability to not let the outside world control us. Society provides so many distractions from maintaining a positive inner state, so the eventual goal is to become so powerful internally, that nothing from the outside can shake us.

    Great words Ivan and great hero journey you are on.

    Peace from Bulgaria!


    • beautiful comment 🙂 thanks for sharing your adventure with us :)…hopefully we can meet up somewhere in the world and discuss some of these topics in person…be well….

  5. Thank you for this great post. I really like your section on ‘Embarking on your inner journey’ and your comments on ego – very insightful. Travel is an amazing leveler. it brings you into the moment and connects you with people in a very authentic way. Thanks again and have a great day!

  6. Top post here. I know much about being out of my comfort zone, leaving it late to travel by not doing it until I hit my thirties, and then embarking on a journey which took me through the Europe and the Middle East. But a particularly poignant moment for me was in Cairo, when I enrolled on a course to delve deep into my own personal psyche. Look it up, I can’t recommend it enough:
    For anyone looking to further their personal development as well as take in new places, it’s a must.

  7. Hey Ivan,

    I am an Indian and just got back from COsta Rica after living there for 4 months.
    I’ve also had other travel experiences and can totally relate to this post.
    Very well written.I also decided to go ahead and share the link with my friends on facebook! 🙂


  8. Hi Ivan,

    I found your blog today and really enjoyed reading your posts and your ebook. I have been traveling and teaching English abroad for the last three years because I really wanted a break from my life in the US and to go beyond my comfort zone. I can relate to a lot of what you write about and want to thank you for making your ebook available.


    • Thanks for contributing to my site Jennifer, really happy you could relate. Wish you the best on the rest of your journey. Peace.

Leave a Reply to Lavina Cancel reply