Travel As A Personal Development Tool – The How To

This is the second part of my short series about how to use travel as a personal development tool. I covered the “why’s” and the benefits of this in the first post, so if you came here directly you may want to read that too.

While started to work on this, I realized that travel as a personal development tool can be split into 2 main categories:

  • short rides around the city or at maximum 3-400 km away from home, which usually last less than a day
  • long trips, more than 3-4000 km, which last at least one week.

There are some differences between the those trips, at least from a personal development approach, so I will split my post accordingly.

Short Joy Rides

Those trips are fantastic perspective changers. I used to do unexpected rides all the time when I was feeling stressed or under pressure. After several months of doing this on purpose, my general approach toward my business completely changed. I switched from a very tense attitude to a more relaxed one and I was able to spot opportunities much easier.

From my experience, you should use this whenever you have feelings of lack of time or pressure. Sounds very counter-productive and somehow like escapism, but is not. Just start a short ride around the city, drive around or walk if you want. You can even take public transportation like urban trains or trams. Just go there, be with the flow and give your mind a break. Do this for at least 3 or 4 hours. Don’t even dare to think that this time could be better used if you “worked”. You’re still working during those rides, you’re only doing it differently.

The trick here is to do this on purpose and for several weeks / months in a row. Yes, you got it right, you must make a habit out of it. Sounds strange to make a habit out of short trips, but believe me, it works. You don’t have to come to the end of the rope and try it as a last resort, just do it while you’re still able to think it clear. Because you still have the capacity to shift your focus from your problems (what is pressuring you) to your solutions (what could free you).

The other key point is to not plan your itinerary, just go in the car and ride the road you see in front of you. Let yourself caught in the road, stop your mind and enjoy what you see. Extract yourself from your current flow of habits, break your unconscious walls and immerse yourself into the unknown. After 3-4 hours, return home. That’s it. As I said, it’s very important to this for at least several weeks in a row.

Short trips without an established goal worked fantastically well for me. Helped me to achieve a better clarity and sensitivity. My work actually improved, both in terms of performance and volume during that period, so I never feel I lost time during those trips.

The best image I can use is something that comes out of the fog. This is how I felt after several weeks in which I follow the habit of short 3-4 hours trips.

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Travel As A Personal Development Tool

Looking at my 2009 goal list I found a few things there related to travel. Precisely, I want to have at least 3 long term vacations this year, and that my friends, is a specific goal, not relaxation. Here comes a post about how you can use traveling as a personal development tool. Apart from having lots of fun, of course.

Personal Traveling History

I did my first travel outside my country after I hit my thirties. Yes, you can laugh now. I know, it’s fun. Ok, you can laugh even more. But that’s the truth and I will not hide it. At that time I was still involved 16 hours a day in my own business and considered travel is just a waste of precious time. Maybe, and only maybe if I could mix travel with business, then I can embark on some small trips outside my country.

And this is how I actually had my first trip to Switzerland: it was a big automotive event in Geneva and since I had the biggest car portal in Romania, I said I could give it a try. I drove 25 hours from Bucharest to Geneva, with only 3 hours of sleep in Hungary. Next year I was in Frankfurt and next year in Paris. Automotive events are quite popular, you know…

And I started to like it. In fact, I started to like it a lot. So much that last year I made one trip longer than any other I had before. In fact much longer than the sum of all my travels to the moment: to New Zealand. One may say that I somehow balanced the score with that one, but in fact, I felt that this was only the beginning. I somehow developed a travel addiction, the same way I developed my GTD addiction over time.

And then I realized that not only entrepreneurship can be a personal development tool. You can also use traveling to enhance yourself consciously. I will outline just a few of the “why’s” in this post, and in the next one I’ll try to share some specific advice about the “how’s”. For now, let’s just start with the reasons.

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