The old me was always in a rush. Each part of my day melted together until I fell into bed exhausted, ready to repeat the process. I convinced myself this was the pathway to success. Unfortunately, I was tired and miserable. It wasn’t until I began traveling alone that I truly learned how to slow down and experience life to the fullest.
Traveling broke up my normal routine and helped me appreciate the world. I had to turn off autopilot and be fully aware of my surroundings. It’s tough to rush through the day when you’re in a new place –- I also quickly realized I didn’t want to. For me, the point of traveling is to experience something new. Rushing through a vacation doesn’t fit with that goal.
Each place I visit has a different culture. To fully immerse, I found myself engaging with locals at small cafes, slowly perusing local attractions and watching the people around me. Being fully present in the moment is invigorating. I felt lighter, more at ease and more relaxed. The thought of returning home to rush back into my old patterns didn’t have any appeal.
Now, instead of grabbing a bagel and rushing to the subway, I’ll pause to eat breakfast at home –- or at least enjoy a cup of coffee before heading out the door. On my morning walk, I take time to appreciate the architecture and culture of my city. I don’t feel as frustrated when I run into small delays and instead use them as opportunities to chat with a stranger or take in something new.
Exploring new locations has also made me realize how fortunate I am. When I feel down about my studio apartment, I remember to look at things in perspective. I have running water, a roof over my head and a reliable job. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the material world and the race to work more to buy more. Traveling taught me to value experiences over things and to appreciate what I have.
In the past, I never took time to find inspiration in my home city. That changed once I started traveling more. Usually, I was in such a rush I didn’t have time to take a walk through the park or notice little things, like the leaves changing or the first winter snowfall. I was more apt to complain about the cooler weather or lament that summer was over.
I found it easy to be inspired while traveling. Each city boasts its own unique character. I spent hours walking through parks and narrow city streets, taking in the hustle and bustle, the scenery, and most of all the people. On one trip I bought a small leather journal to keep notes on my experiences –- now I take it everywhere with me to document my travels.
I also keep my camera on hand as well to keep a visual record of my travels. I like to visit new places and rarely return to old ones unless for a specific reason. Whenever I need to boost my mood, I can look through the photos and reminisce on my travel excursions. Photos make it easy to share my experiences with friends and family as well.
It’s impossible not to be inspired by different cultures. During my excursions, I pay close attention to the way other cultures eat their meals, shop in markets and spend time on personal care regimens. I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to emulate some of these behaviors in my routine at home. Though awkward at first, I managed to create boundaries with work which allow me to have more work-life balance.
My newly found work-life balance allows me to see inspiration at home as well. Now that I’ve slowed down I notice the little things around me, like springtime daffodils and that new café which opened on my street. I take regular lunch breaks and make time to explore my neighborhood more. Instead of passing on yoga classes or Sunday brunch, I now find myself scheduling these activities with my friends.
Traveling has taught me to slow down and enjoy life more. I’ve learned to appreciate my surroundings wherever I am and how to find inspiration around every corner.