These past few months have been a whirlwind of activity. I’ve spent time doing things I never imagined. My transient life ended when I spent two months in Houston helping rebuild after the hurricane. I’ve biked over 1000 miles across Texas and New Mexico. My mindset and outlook have been fundamentally changed. I began to enhance my life through travel.
One year ago, I was sitting behind a desk contemplating escape. I had thoughts of what travel by bike would yield, but I never imagined where I would be today. As I write this, I’m lying in a star dome in the New Mexico desert. I’m surrounded by natural buildings, buses, and trailers from people living off the grid. My host is an incredible lady who built everything with her own hands after traveling all over the world. My two friends I’ve just met have biked with me all the way from Austin, Texas. We’ve shared some incredible moments along with some incredible hardship. It was astounding how close we became in a short amount of time.
When I was sitting in my cubicle a year ago I didn’t understand travel. I took one to two-week jaunts to different locations, but I never felt satisfied. I always wanted something more. At the time, I thought I had a wide knowledge of different culture and ideas. Boy was I wrong.
Vulnerability and Travel
When I set out on my bike I had some plans. One of them was to finish the tour in San Diego towards the end of December. That changed as people and places sucked me in. I enjoyed time with friends (new and old) in locations down the east coast. Days turned into weeks and before I knew it I was arriving in Florida in mid-November. The only rule I had stuck to was keeping the tour open-ended. I never “rushed” out of a location. People sheltered me from bad weather and cold temperatures.
When I began biking I thought the tour would be all about biking. I imagined the thrill of reaching a destination and absorbing all the beautiful sights along the way. As I rode on, the tour became much more about creating new deep connections. My vulnerability allowed friends and strangers to become vulnerable. My conversations evolved from surface level small talk to deep conversations. I learned so much about other ways of living. I was exposed to different religions, creeds, and living styles while beginning to understand why people formed certain opinions.
The flexibility and vulnerability associated with my trip allowed me to understand myself and others. I began to enhance life through travel.
The Path Unknown
When I set out from Florida in December to cross the country, the tour was already different. My goals had evolved from biking alone to striving to create more connections. It didn’t take long to realize these goals. In Tallahassee, Florida I connected with a couple (Mike and Brooke) traveling across the country on bikes. We formed an instant connection while meeting an incredible amount of people on the way to New Orleans. I learned what it meant to live as a vegan while understanding a simple approach to life. Mike and Brooke taught me that you don’t need much to live simply. You figure it out as you go.
As I traveled to Texas, I never planned on going to Houston. On a whim, I decided to head there to celebrate New Year’s with friends. Two months later I left Houston. I became engrossed in the community while engaging myself in volunteering. Every hour of my day went to rebuilding houses damaged after Hurricane Harvey. I wanted to give back after so many people had given me so much. I found an incredible community and incredible people striving to make a difference. My goal was to do as much as I could with the skills I had. I made an incredible group of friends I’ll never forget.
The path unknown allowed me to enhance life through travel. I never planned on being in Houston for two months, but the time I spent there was life-changing. I immersed myself in a community that was working to change from the inside. The people I met were far different than anything I had ever seen before. The strife and difficulty were incredibly real. I felt their emotions and pain by being there with them.
The Road Ahead
My time on the road has only improved since Houston. I’ve been able to meet more incredible people while absorbing more points of view. I’ve biked farther and faster than ever while absorbing incredible landscapes. The tour has become a whirlwind of new people and new places. Yet, every place I stop I learn something new.
This is why I love travel. You can enhance life through travel because travel makes you learn. New situations and people are an everyday occurrence. Most things don’t go to plan. You have to think on your feet while being ready to adapt. Problem-solving is a must as you find yourself in new precarious situations. The people you meet open your eyes to new ways of thinking. You step outside your bubble and immerse yourself in new communities with viewpoints different than your own. Travel forces you to listen and stay open to new views and situations.
How to Get the Benefits of Travel Quickly
Most don’t have time to go on an open-ended bike tour. Luckily, you don’t need to bike across the country to enhance life through travel. Open-ended and vulnerable travel is the best way to expand your thinking and comfort zone. However, local travel can go a long way. Connecting with a new community organization or going to a meeting with an organization you disagree with can go a long way. Try getting outside your comfort zone and use www.meetup.com to find a new group.
Go on a weekend trip without a set itinerary. Drive in a general direction on a backroad and stop when you see something interesting. You’ll be surprised at the people who will talk to you. Their stories will change the way you think about your own life. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation. People are incredible.
My life has been changed in ways I never imagined from travel. It brings me to tears thinking about all the incredible people I’ve met and all the amazing sights I’ve seen. As I was laying in the desert a week ago in Texas with the sky painted with stars it really hit home. There is nothing like travel. Make yourself vulnerable, lose your plans, and experience the full benefits travel has to offer. You won’t regret a second…
What have you found to be the benefits of travel? Have you had any life-changing trips? What are your best travel stories? Let me know in the comments.
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