As I stood in the security line at Dulles airport it hit me. It was five years since my last foreign travel. I felt mixed emotions. I felt heart-soaring excitement about my Balinese vacation. I also felt regret that I had let so much time pass since my last trip. As I stepped on the plane, I vowed to travel every year. Why?

Mark Twain said

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. 

I confess to having the same bias as Twain. Travel is expansive. Travel is freedom inducing. That’s why I want you to take a vacation this year and travel. It doesn’t have to be a 40 hour excursion to the other side of the world.

Travel. Travel anywhere. Book it today. Oh and book it for two weeks. Take a big vacation. Big vacations transform. And plan to disconnect from work and the world no matter where you go.

Every time I travel, especially out of country, I’m transformed with priceless life lessons. I come back a more compassionate, curious, thoughtful and dare I say interesting person.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t.

Travel gets us out of our comfort zone. That’s the place we become better spouses, managers, employees, entrepreneurs, parents, friends and citizens. That’s where we become free.

Are you in?

If you’re anything like me, or most people I know, you’re saying “that’s great but I don’t have the time to travel.” You might also be saying “I don’t have the money.” Since you’re reading this, I’m going to take some relationship license and assume you are inviting me to call out your B.S. as your virtual coach.

B.S.  We all have the time and means to travel, even to the other side of the world.

How? In part 2 of this vacation/travel series, I’ll reveal how anyone can reap the benefits of travel and come back to work relaxed. But first, I want to whet your appetite with a few lessons you might learn from your travels. Think of this installment as part travel teaser, part life advice and part kick in the bootie to book your dream trip.

Why You Should Take A Vacation This Year

Travel rejuvenates, helps us see the world and life through a different len and challenges us. Now I know not everyone likes to challenges, so if that’s you please stop reading now. Yet, if you seek freedom, passion, and wellbeing, then put yourself in the path of challenges. Travel, especially international, is one of the best, most exciting ways to create freedom.

Getting away reduces stress, increases productivity, gets you a raise or promotion, and improves your love life. Ok, I don’t have any scientific support for that last one. But if you reduce your stress, are more productive and make more money,  its not a far leap to think your love life will improve. Right?

What Happens When You Travel 

  • Gratitude and Appreciation For My Commute

Traveling anywhere opens you up to new experiences. Your outlook on life, work and the world changes. For instance, the least favorite aspect of my job is my 45-minute commute. Yet after two weeks in Balinese traffic, with its impenetrable and innumerable scooters and breath-holding craziness of lanes that are only suggestions, I’m grateful for my easy and serene daily commute.

A short shift in scenery can yield a momentous shift in perspective about your life. What shift would serve you?

  • Spend More Time In Silence

I was in Bali for the Hindu New Year called Nyepi. You can read more about it here. One aspect of the celebration is when the entire island observes a day of silence at home. After five days with 10 women, I won’t lie that I was relishing a day of silence. What I hadn’t anticipated was how close it would bring us and how it open my heart.

At breakfast I was more in tune with others needs. I found myself anticipating what and when others would need before they even knew. I napped, which I rarely do. I lounged, which I never do. My body melted into being as I released it from the busyness of life.

Vacation

Vacation in Bali

I finished the day, vowing to spend one day a quarter in silence. Are you game?

  • Be Flexible. Be Open. Follow Your Heart

I’ve been studying Hindu and Buddhist mythology for yoga teacher training. In my research I discovered an uninhabited Balinese island that’s home to two special temples. First is a Guan Yin temple. She is the only female Buddha and the goddess of compassion and mercy. I’m always cultivating these traits. The second is a large temple of my favorite Hindu deity Lord Ganesha. I had to go to this island. My hosts  informed me the island was too far from where we would be. Next year.

Upon arriving, my hosts raised the possibility of extending my trip by two days to include the island. In years past I would have declined because I had to return to work. I would have felt torn between obligations to work and my heart. I would have said no and regretted it.

I’m shocked and happy to report I am no longer that person. I no longer live without possibilities. I embraced this opportunity with a big YES. I changed my ticket, told my boss I was staying and never looked back.

The addition of the best snorkeling in the world, temples, spiritual deepening, and lunch on a coi pond overlooking a rice paddy transformed a great trip into an extraordinary trip.

Lord Ganesha

Vacation on Menjengan Island, Bali.

I will forever hold this experience up as a reminder to always follow my heart. Where would your heart take you?

  • Be Present. When You’re Not, Know You Will Be Ok.

I’m an annoying advocate for being present. Just ask my co-workers and husband.

I’m also a work in progress. I can become disconnected from what’s going on around me. This is not something I advise when traveling. Although the lessons can be rich.

Months before departing, three of us had booked the exact same itinerary from New York to Bali. When we arrived in Singapore to catch our flight to Bali, I followed my friends, never looking at my ticket. The gate attendant did and looked at me with a pained expression.

In some unexplained twist of airline voodoo, despite my booked itinerary, my ticket was on another flight on another airline. A flight that was leaving in 20 minutes from another terminal. So ensued the OJ Simpson moment of sprinting and wheezing across the vast Singapore airport. Despite everyone’s valiant efforts to hold the flight and get me there on time, the door closed.

Never in my life had I missed a flight. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. What now? My vacation was ruined. How would I get to Bali? How would I get to our house from the airport? Who would know about my whereabouts? Panic rose in my chest.

Hold up camper, my higher self said. Let’s be calm about this.

Moments later the ticket agent got me on the next flight out, only three hours later, for no extra charge. I got into Bali at the same time as two other companions. All was well.

When mistakes happen, because they do, I will remember this day and remember not to panic and always return to the present. Will you?

  • Surrender And Ask For Support

In another mishap of presence, on day four of the trip, I left my debit card in the ATM. Are you kidding me? I heard the machine beeping and wondered, what the hell is that? But exhausted from a long day of sight seeing and eager to get back to my friends, I walked away.

Two hours later, peering into my wallet, I discovered why the ATM was beeping.

Tears and panic bubbled up. Fear of being broke and stranded took over. How does one live with no cash in a cash culture?

Remembering my prior lesson, I surrendered to it all working out. I cancelled the card. I asked for support. I called in debts. Cash appeared. I never missed out.

I was taken care of because I asked. Where might that be useful in my life? Where might that useful in your life?

We All Need To Learn Something

I knew these lessons before I left home. Yet there is no substitute for learning (or relearning) through experience. You won’t learn these lessons from me. You will only learn them when you live them.

Now I don’t wish you miss your flight or lose your debit card. But I wish you travel to learn the lessons you need in the ways only you can learn them.

So how can you take that trip? Where will you go? Share in the comments below.

And come back next week as I share my life and travel hacking tips for taking a 17-day vacation without having my life or job fall apart or draining my bank account.

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