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How to Change Your Life Through Travel

Use your next vacation to transform your life and shift your mindset.

Let me ask you a question. Under what circumstances do you think you would find yourself more motivated to grow—scenario one where you drive to the same places, eat the same food, and watch the same TV shows or scenario two where you step out of your normal geography, break your routines, and challenge your preferences? I think it’s rather intuitive that stretching your day-to-day will naturally trick your brain into becoming more innovative, outgoing, and successful. But how do you jump-start that? The best way to change your experience is to get out of it—even if for hours at a time—to understand it and shake it up. The best spark to light that fire is through travel.

Traveling can fundamentally change how you live life and break down constricting biases and beliefs. The best trips I have taken were those where I limited expectations of the destination and fully immersed myself, often stepping outside of my comfort zone in new and challenging ways. Venturing into the unknown without judgment brought forth so many life-changing experiences and lessons that created a significant shift in my mindset. Here are a few ways you can do the same.

Sprinkle or pour on the adventure.

Adventure comes in all forms. If cliff jumping or scuba diving isn’t your cup of tea, simply toss your guidebook for an afternoon and get lost! Raise your chances of meeting locals by putting away the earbuds, your “Do not disturb” sign. Do whatever puts you outside your comfort zone and creates a bit of healthy tension. Because is it really an adventure if there isn’t some element of the unknown?

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Research shows that leaving your comfort zone even challenges your mental skills and creates “cognitive reserve” – the building of dense connections between brain cells. In a nutshell, individuals who try new things and mentally challenge themselves have very healthy minds. So seek out adventures. Your brain will thank you.

Break down biases.

Traveling debunks many false perceptions placed on some cultures due to the news media’s distorted portrayal of such places (i.e., the Middle East is filled with terrorists). The vast majority of Middle Easterners are welcoming, wonderful people, doesn’t make for sexy news. Cassie De Pecol, the first woman to visit all 196 countries, raved about Pakistan for its incredible landscape and citizens. And if anyone has collected enough data to form that conclusion, it is her.

Glen planned a surprise trip to Turkey recently, and several people tried talking him out of it. We had the most amazing time, even going to the wedding of a couple we didn’t know! We were just walking by the reception—dressed like tourists—and they invited us in!

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Ensure you make new connections.

If you want to really get to know a culture rent a car, take taxis, or use public transportation. Stay the heck away from tour companies! Maybe even stay in a hostel. If you invest 5 minutes per day in thinking about your safety and that of your belongings, it really is a wonderful alternative experience. Hang out in the common space, and within five minutes you will have met someone like a woman from Morocco who quit her job to see the world. Ask a lot of questions. If you are not listening, you are not learning.

Research out of The Franklin Institute says you should do this as well. All it takes is a ten-minute conversation with a new person to stimulate your brain and improve cognitive function. Making new friends also improves your sense of belonging, self-confidence and self-worth. These changes also lower your stress levels and combat depression. So, for a free dose of happiness, look no further than the person standing across the room!

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And if you are thinking, “I can’t do that because they’re different,” that is the perfect reason to do it. You are in a place where expectations on your behavior and beliefs are relaxed because you are different. Get out there and see how much you have in common with people you think you naturally share very little.

It’s as simple as ABC ... Adventures break Biases to create Connection! So get out there, travel, and perpetuate that new vibe at home to create a life of wonder and growth.

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