The Ability To Connect: What We're All Really Searching For As We Embark On Travel

It is irrefutable that travel makes you a more self-aware and engaging human being. The education of experience is one that pays off a million times over before you even make a dent in your school loans.

Many articles about how travel makes you a better person exist, but the ways in which the ideas are presented are very isolated. The ways travel can change a person stem from what you decide before you even begin your journey.

The act of travel is an unabashed, unmitigated act of openness. It is preparing yourself to welcome a plethora of new experiences, people and places into your life. While this openness spawns even more positive character developments, it becomes even more valuable if you can preserve this spirit as you re-assimilate into real life.

The brand of openness that travel is able to help cultivate comes in two colors: vulnerability and open-mindedness. Being open-minded means taking on the threat of adventure and not being afraid to try new things. It is an actionable openness; saying "yes!" in uncomfortable situations.

Vulnerability, on the other hand, is emotional openness. It’s a conscious refusal to let previous hurt harden you. It is risk-taking of the softer sort and putting trust into strangers’ hands as you stay in strange new places and do strange new things.

Open-mindedness can be divided into adventure and acceptance. Ironically, acceptance is all about letting go. It’s about letting go of preconceived notions and expectations and being okay with whatever comes your way.

Adventure is also about letting go, but in different ways. Acceptance is about letting go of the desire for an opportunity when it fails to arise. Adventure is about letting go of what you though would happen when an unexpected new opportunity arises. It means not only agreeing to the big, scary world, but to diving into it because you never know what might otherwise happen.

Adventure is about seizing the moment. When you seize the moment, you stress less — a skill that is obviously applicable when you return to your “real world” job.

Furthermore, with the knowledge that you have conquered risky situations, you begin to develop a rejuvenated sense of confidence in yourself. Confidence also results in a deep comfort of the vastness of loneliness.

Vulnerability may sound like a negative asset, but in reality, it is the base of friendliness. Constructive reciprocation to someone else means being generous with resources, time and emotions. You must not only trust a person, but also be vulnerable to what he or she offers. This exchange is the first step of friendship.

You will come into contact with many different types of people through the open lens of travel; you will begin to see differences as simply as they are -- nothing more, nothing less.

By valuing people more, you will also value material goods less. This ties back to living in the moment and acquiring experiences, rather than things.

In situations of travel, when everyone has such incredible stories, you will begin to listen better, listen closer and ask better questions rather than just wait for your turn to speak. You’ll learn to verbally engage in a way that is sincere and that sprouts from a desire to connect deeper, rather than to just fill the empty space.

Oppositely, the power of vulnerability is also inward-facing, as it relates to self-love and forgiveness of flaws. It’s a conscientious decision to not harden yourself to life’s banalities. Oftentimes, the most difficult thing — and also the most obvious — is the ability to connect with yourself, which is only achievable through honest vulnerability.

We cannot use travel as a way to run from internal or external obstacles. By cultivating this one very specific mindset, you will be able to snowball a simple trip into a wealth of new characteristics and opportunities to engage.  That's all we want, right? The ability to connect better.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock