This article was published on July 26th, 2020
Travel changes you in subtle ways. You don’t become a completely different person overnight, but something becomes different about you. Whether it’s more patience with people, being more helpful, or downright excited about new experiences.
A popular notion goes something like: Traveling helps you find yourself. There’s some truth to that. But, and as you’ll see below, it doesn’t happen how most people think it does. You won’t suddenly overcome your body image issues or become sober just because you hike Machu Picchu or swim with sharks in Australia. No matter where you are in the world, your problems follow you around.
Still, travel does help you find yourself. It yanks you from your regular routine and cocoon and thrusts you into unfamiliar territory to craft yourself afresh. Here are the many ways travel helps you find yourself, especially travel to queer-friendly destinations.
Discover new passions and flirt with new interests
A good chunk of our identity comes from what we do, our passions and interests. However, our regular routines rarely expose us to a whole lot of options. Travel, however, does.
On the road, you discover new things. For example, a culinary experience, art, or yoga style you haven’t tried out yet. In immersing yourself in these new activities, you learn something new about the world and yourself. Might you be a yoga person? Do you enjoy exotic cuisines but didn’t realize it back home?
You take some of these interests with you back home, and they might even be the springboard to something new.
People are generally nice
Most queers experience so much toxicity that they lose faith in people. Been body shamed? Join the queue. Ghosted or insulted on social media? There’s an even longer queue for that.
Traveling to queer-friendly destinations puts you in touch with other people. Fellow travelers. If you’ve been on the road long enough, then you know that travelers can be a helpful bunch. They guide you on places to check out, help you out with baggage, medical advice, and recommendations, etc.
You realize that most people, outside your cocoon, aren’t that bad. They don’t have the same insane standards that everyone else seems to live by. They are “normal,” and that’s a good thing because it slowly restores your faith in humanity, and you become a better person.
Easy relationships on the road
Life isn’t all that complicated; we make it so. Travelers will meet in one country, exchange brief contact, go separate ways and then meet accidentally again five years later in another country and pick up from where they left as if nothing happened.
It’s easy to form friendships on the road. You interact with new people who have the same travel goals, and that binds you deeply. How does that help you find yourself? Interactions with diverse people expose you to new ideas and new ways of thinking. Each person has unique experiences that have shaped them. These stories let you see life through a different set of lenses, completely altering your perspective.
Reflect on your identity
Traveling forces you to reflect on your identity. You have lots of time on the road to think about who you are and what matters to you. It forces you to find contentment in things typically outside your worldview.
For example, experiencing a different culture forces you to realize those material possessions, looks, and money doesn’t hold the same importance as the value from these experiences. As such, you find out more about yourself than you ever thought possible.
Traveling teaches independence and compassion.
Most people find the warmth and openness of some communities or cultures astounding. People are
always willing to lend a helping hand to those unfamiliar with the territory. In turn, you also learn to treat people with a little bit more compassion.
Travel also forces you to embrace independence. You can’t always rely on people when traveling (or even back home). With autonomy comes more freedom and confidence.
Fending for yourself on the road helps you develop problem-solving skills and move outside your comfort zone. These are life-skills you can use in your life back home.
Ultimately, travel allows you to become more comfortable and confident with your identity. It gives you the strength to fully embrace yourself and remain fearless in the face of uncertainty.