Saturday, December 13, 2008

Benefits of Travel

Now that I have returned from my 12-month expatriate assignment in India I have more time to travel up north to Bemidji to see my parents. This is one of my favorite things to do for many reasons: I get to connect with Tom & Yvonne (two of my best friends); I get to take a 4 hour road trip (woohoo!); I have time to unplug from the city and be entertained by the beautiful northern Minnesota scenery; I plug in my iPod or crank the radio and sing as loud as I want; and, most importantly, I have time to reflect and ponder--often on the shores of Lake Bemidji.

Those of you who know me are aware that I deliberately travel somewhere every month. I started this practice about three years ago. I realized that I wanted to experience more of the world, have more unique experiences and meet more people. So I decided the best way to do this was to force myself out of my comfort zone (home) at least one weekend per month. As fortune would have it I just happened to based on Bangalore, India, this past year so my monthly travels were on an international scale. Now that I'm back in Minnesota I can reconnect with the U.S. Do you realize how many amazing places are right outside your back door?? The U.S. contains an eclectic mix of amazing people, places and experiences. Get out of the house!

On a higher level I've come to realize there are significant benefits to this monthly travel:
  • Removing myself from immediate "life environment" gives me perspective and can often see things from the outside looking in. This helps me reframe events and circumstances, often bringing me clarity and more insight about my life and my relationships.
  • I have the opportunity to plan spontaneity--meaning I don't have to have plans, per se, outside of where I am going to go and how I'm going to get there. This freedom allows you embrace the present and be open to whatever happens next. And for avid "planners", this is your opportunity to let go of control and what's going to happen next! Trust me--it frees you.
  • I place myself in situations that I would normally not have experienced just by "being there".
  • I can connect with friends and family by visiting them in their world. People are, truly, all that really matters.
  • Doors of opportunity are now available that wouldn't have been before--I am exposed to new environments, cultures, people and experiences. I am learning more about myself and world around me by just being open to it.

As the holiday season is now upon us you may or may not be traveling, but I still encourage you to take time to reconnect with the people and places that bring you the most happiness and joy. And if you find yourself stuck in a rut this winter and need a good shot of perspective, try a weekend trip!

Happy Holidays.

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