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The Growth Zone

You Really Should Just Travel the World for a Year

Should I travel the world for a year? That depends - do you want your life to change?

You really should just travel the world for a year.

You should pack up your belongings, throw caution to the wind, and hit the road.

You should throw a dart at a map and let your destination be decided by fate, uncertain of where you’ll end up, but certain that it’ll be worth it when you get there.

Because it will.

Traveling is unique in the way that it is not defined by what you put into the experience, but by what you get out of it.

Late nights spent around a bonfire singing songs in Spanish as a musician strums out a tune on a ukulele. Early mornings that start with an egg coffee amidst the hectic noise of Hanoi.  Closing your eyes as you bask in the sounds of waves crashing against the rocks in Ireland. Each of these adventures boil down to one lifelong lesson that you can only learn through experience:

Travel changes you.

It shakes you and breaks you and turns you inside out until you look in the mirror and fail to recognize yourself. The nose is the same, the mouth turns up at the corners in a familiar way, and the ears still sit in their usual spots, but the eyes are different. They’ve seen more of the world than they could have ever imagined.

Your hands are different too. They’ve held tacos, bowls of gelato, glasses of local wine, and balls of mango sticky rice. They’ve hugged strangers and held friends in times of need. They’ve clasped a colleague’s palm and performed magic tricks that draw crowds at local bars - and even made you a few new fans.

The world is full of people who are just waiting to make an impact on you.

You’ll sympathize with Goldilocks’ predicament as you plan your adventure. A week isn’t long enough to benefit from the life-changing lessons that travel provides you, a month is enough time to experience one city - a year is just right if you want to see multiple corners of the world.

People want to know you. They want to tell their stories as much as you want to hear them, letting secrets loose that they’ve been storing for years, because up until now, no one has made it a point to open their ears and just listen.

A year of travel manifests itself as a mental yearbook, full of the faces of people who made a dent in the armor that you  built around your life. You may not always remember their names, but their faces live on, lit by the magical colors of a Portuguese sunset or shadowed by the mountains of Cape Town. Every person has taught you a lesson, and they’re recorded in your mind like senior quotes.

Time is the most valuable resource - don’t waste it.

Pack extra water for that hike. You’ll need it.

Every day is an opportunity for a new adventure. Get out there and discover it.

Places are given superlatives - best surfing, best pizza, best markets - and yet you find that you will never have a “favorite” city.

Cities are living, breathing entities, teaching you their own lessons and moving at their own tempo. Some will be so beautiful they will knock the  breath right out of you, while others can will you into silence for their deep, storied pasts.

You’ll find that stepping into the unknown has never felt more freeing. That starting over doesn’t have to be so scary. That you have the power to be the type of person that you’ve always wanted to be.

No one is holding you back but yourself.

The world will push you to reconsider the life that you’ve been living up to this point. You’ll witness people just like you living lives that are based on other definitions of “success”. You’ll wonder if you’ve been living life in a way that’s completely counter to your beliefs and values.

Travel will do this to you. It will make you question everything and give you the confidence to make the changes you need  to in order to live your life in a more meaningful way. It will shove you out of your comfort zone and make you confront the parts of you that you’ve been holding back.

Your humor. Your resolve. Your knack for being able to find your way home no matter how lost you are.

Once you set yourself free, you’ll shine.

Travel is an education in the things that you need to know about the world, and the things that you need to know about yourself. At times, it will beat you down to the depths of the earth, but only so that you can grow into a better version of the person you were always meant to be. You’ll come out on the other side with an excitement for the every day, and a distaste for routine and wasted time. You’ll gain certainty in the direction you’re headed and an inability to reconsider the past.

Travel will forever change you. It will open up doors that used to look like walls. It will introduce you to people who hold the power to make the world a better place."

It will also make you one of those people.

So, in the end, the question isn’t: “Should I travel the world for a year?”

It’s: “Where should I go first?”

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