How do you leave a place that's moved your soul?
How do you return home and retain that feeling of transformation?
It may feel like life-changing travel while on the road but can that existential shift be integrated into your daily life?
Can the best of your travels be taken home?
I'm writing and thinking about this on my last day in Kauai. This island is having a magnetic effect on me. Despite wanting to return to all those I love I don't want to leave.
Times When I Experienced Truly Life-Changing Travel
And then I take heart. I realize that I have managed to integrate major change into my daily life from my past travels.
- In the Lake District of England (2009) I learned to hike. They call it walking there and the idea of walking the fells sounded romantic to me. So I went and discovered that it was actually hiking and that I actually liked it. Now I sometimes choose destinations specifically for the hiking! And I hike at home.
- In India (2012) I ate only vegetarian food for the first two weeks – first I was staying with a vegetarian family and then at a vegetarian ashram. After those two weeks I couldn't think of eating meat and I wondered whether I would carry this new-found diet home with me. Four years later I am still vegetarian – or I should say pescatarian. I've added fish to my diet on occasion.
- In Hong Kong (2015) I joined a hiking group through Meetup.com and went on an early morning hike. I discovered that all my walking at home had not prepared me for the hills there. Yes, I was miserably out of shape. (Read Meetup.com Got me Hiking in Hong Kong: And it was #$@&%*! hard!) I then integrated stair and hill training into my morning walks and have realized positive results which showed up in the hiking I've done on Kauai.
Yes there are ways that I've experienced truly life-changing travel.
So here's my question as I already mourn the leaving of Kauai: is there something we can do on our travels to take the best of it back home with us? Is there something I can do to take a bit of what I've loved on Kauai home with me?
How to Make Life-Changing Travel a Reality
To integrate the transformative aspects of your travels into your life at home I suggest that you consider what made it so wonderful. There may be hundreds of things you liked about a place but consider why and how it touched your soul. What about the lifestyle of your destination made it rich? Take note of them. For me in Kauai it was…
- Big nature. I spent many days hiking and went to the beach almost every day.
- The slow pace. Life is slow. Even the traffic is slow. It never goes more than 50mph and usually much slower. People stop for pedestrians and to let other drivers in. Nice!
- Quiet nights. I spent most of my nights in a hostel or off the grid in a yurt. Both situations meant an early bedtime of about 10pm and early to rise around 7am. Yes, it seems I'm quite capable of sleeping nine hours night after night.
- Opportunity to read – a lot! No television or Netflix for two weeks. I could have definitely tapped into Netflix with the WiFi but I didn't. Instead I read. I read two books (In One Person by John Irving and The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Stotton. I also listened to yet another book, The Midwife of Venice through my Audible account. I love Audible! You can try it and get two free Audiobooks. Remember to cancel if you don't want to start paying the monthly fee.)
- Spontaneity. I didn't plan much more than a day or two in advance and even then, I would often change plans according to my mood. Having time that is not committed so that this is possible is important. So I’m going to try to avoid all work on the weekends and live those days, at least in part, spontaneously.
Consider then how to integrate your trip insights into everyday life thus making a life-changing travel experience. Are there routines you can change, friendships to develop, groups to join, tv’s to turn off, hikes to take…?
As I sat down to write this post in the Kauai Beach House Hostel, thinking about how I can take a bit of Kauai home with me they turned on Israel (IZ) Kamakawiwo'ole playing “Over the Rainbow”, a quintessential Hawaiian tune.
Yes, taking home the music will help too.