Travel as a way of self-discovery

Two weeks can change the way you think, change your life and if not lead to absolute happiness, then seriously advance on the path to it. How not to waste two weeks of vacation and get the most out of the trip, knows the founder of the Itinerero Travel Club, Anna Gibiskys - director of the most powerful transformations of consciousness in the best natural scenery on Earth.

How to get the most out of your trip?

The cultural code shapes us as a person and our ideas about the world, helps us to find "our own" and define the boundaries of the norm. But at the same time, it prevents us from looking deeper into ourselves and getting to know ourselves realistically rather than with the self-image we have learned from childhood. Travel and contact with other cultures is the best way to try on alternative cultures, worldviews, and life models. For example, in the traditions, people grow up at the age of 17-18 years old, and in other cultures - they are already at the age of 14, and this is a significant difference. Someone was married off at 12, and their cultural code doesn't provide for other scenarios. And someone personally experienced the famous "summer of love" in San Francisco at a young age and did not accept any restrictions or dogmas.
Coming into contact with alternative life models in your travels, you let this information flow through you and think, "Can I do this? Does it suit me? Would I want to move here?" A group asked me if it was possible to move to a Quechua Indian community in Peru. It turned out that yes, you can - it's an open community, you need to learn the Quechua language, prove your adequacy to the elder, and you will be accepted - please, live in the mountains, grow alpacas, participate in community life, if that's your happiness. But you can't try it on yourself lying at home on the couch or the beach on a recliner.
Just lounging on the beach for a week or two is also a normal scenario if you are physically and psychologically exhausted. Just sleeping and eating, not rushing anywhere, and not reacting to anything emotionally is also normal need of the body. But such a vacation (you can't even call it a trip) doesn't change anything in you and your life. Real travel, synonymous with adventure, has enormous transformative power; each change request can be matched with its tool.
Some seek spiritual awakening and growth, and some need exciting extreme experiences that most people are afraid to even think about, but after which the quality of life changes. For example, no tourists ever meet sunrises on a regular tour because you have to get up at 4:30 at 5 a.m. to go somewhere - who has enough willpower for that? I always include at least one sunrise in my tours. Because sunrise in Machu Picchu or Grand Canyon is an immersion of a person not only in a location but also in himself, it generates inner beauty, glow, and energy. It turns on a model of self-fulfillment, self-fulfillment through a different perception of the world around us, and helps to become happier and more successful - which, ultimately, is what each of us wants; we only need to find our way.

What tasks does travel solve?

  1. You are getting to know the present self. We grow up and form as a person in a certain cultural paradigm in our "social bubble. If you expand your knowledge about the world and people of other cultures, you will know and understand much about yourself.
  2. To feel all-powerful. To make a breakthrough in life, to achieve ambitious goals, sometimes you need the experience of a "Superman." And it is just possible to get it in the journey, putting yourself in an unfamiliar experience and going to hard-to-reach regions, conquering your first (even if not the highest) peak, climbing Kilimanjaro, or spending the night in Bolivia in huts without wifi high in the mountains, in physically uncomfortable thin air, you accomplish your feat. After going through such a challenge, you feel all-powerful, ready to go and conquer any peaks to tear up this world. Experiencing this extreme brightness of life, you get an incomparable charge of energy and transformational experience.
  3. Expand networking to a global scale In today's rhythm of life, and we don't have time to develop relationships to have quality interaction: we cross paths for an hour or so, call for half an hour - that's all the "social connections. And when you travel, you spend at least seven days side by side with other people, negotiate with each other, get to know each other, get to know each other, and become practically a family. In one of our groups, we had one man for six girls, and he, of course, immediately took on a lot of male "physical" tasks: hauled six heavy suitcases, managed to wipe the mirrors and windows of my minivan at stops, every girl (not just his wife) opened the door. And during that trip, he fully revealed himself as an incredibly gallant man. And even if you travel alone, somewhere you will meet a bakery owner, somewhere with a guide, somewhere with a group of tourists from different countries - and now your networking reaches the world scale. These acquaintances at the right moment can move you towards your goal.
  4. Raise Your Status Your travels, adventures, and experiences are your life portfolio, what "sells" you as a person. For the new acquaintance, you are no longer "Masha, work as a sales manager, on weekends I hang out with my friends in a bar," but "Masha, I climbed the Uyuash, crossed the Pacific Ocean on a yacht, dived in the Galapagos. Immediately plus a thousand points to you in the eyes of others, a completely different perception of you.

Where to go?

Spiritual practices and self-discovery
"Spiritual tourism" has an extensive range: from gentle measured yoga and wellness tours to shamanistic courses and pilgrimage tours. Retreats and wellness "for every level of training" are in Bali, India, the Maldives, the Seychelles. Introduction to shamanism and other "exotic" for us religions - Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica, the Altai region, Buryatia, Yakutia, Nepal, with its stunning natural beauty of the Himalayas (trek around Annapurna itself can cause religious ecstasy, enlightenment, and Zen, but also suitable for beginners, as along the route there are excellent lodges, where travelers are comfortable staying). Pilgrimage on sacred paths - Camino de Santiago, Holy Land (Israel), Athos in Greece, Bhutan with its endless smiles and grace: the religious atmosphere in Bhutan is very unobtrusive, Bhutanese are welcoming and speak fluent English from age five, hotel standards are excellent, but the temples built on rock cliffs and the mesmerizing Buddhist puja ritual deserve special attention.
Rebooting through outdoor activities
Hiking is a kind of "dynamic meditation" when your feet walk for kilometers, and the incredible beauty around you overturns your consciousness. Hiking allows you to reach such nature corners, where no transport can pass, take the best photos, and meet the most unforgettable sunrises. And also - to meet animals in their natural habitat, get acquainted with local people and join their life, and be sure of the limitlessness of your physical abilities. According to the difficulty level and "wildness," routes for hiking are diverse - from those that you can walk in stilettos or ride in a wheelchair to those requiring remarkable endurance. The best hiking is in Nepal, the Alps, and Patagonia. Although initially, you can try your hand in the U.S. and Europe. Diving - both physical practice and visual experience you can not get in any other environment. Depending on the level of training, "to visit the fish" can go to Egypt, the Maldives, and South Africa, but the real paradise for divers - is the Philippines. For gastronomic tourism, for example, the Philippines is completely unsuitable, but only here, on the island of Malapascua, you - if you do not drown on the way - will see several fox sharks in one dive, and this is a very rare and magnificent shark. Or another must-see for divers is the sardine run around South Africa, one of the top events for underwater photographers and divers, when the whole underwater world gathers to hunt these migrating sardines. Similar "iconic" locations and events, by the way, have surfers and kitesurfers alike.
Enrichment through new experiences
  • Event tourism - travel, both wholly tied to a certain event and including a certain event as "cherry on the cake. For example, you can go to the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA, and immerse yourself in an atmosphere of creativity, creation, and self-expression without boundaries and almost no rules. Discoveries and revelations - about yourself, people, and society - are guaranteed for everyone; the entertainment will be so great that it's impossible to see even 10% of the events and combinations of the incompatible. And you can include a concert of your favorite band or a trip to the opera.
  • Gastrotourism is an opportunity not just to eat delicious food but to experience the culture of another country, another nation through food. There are countries where the national cuisine is incredibly delicious - Peru, Thailand, Vietnam, and Mexico. There are "world capitals of haute cuisine" with many Michelin restaurants - France, for example. And there are countries from which you should not expect tasty dishes; they have other advantages: the Philippines, Brazil, China, and Myanmar. By the way, gastro tourism is not only about the food itself but also culinary workshops - imagine how exciting it can be to cook Peruvian ceviche, Moroccan tagine, and the real Tom Yam and Fo Bo in the motherland of any of these dishes, among local color! And you can also visit a coffee farm in Colombia or an oyster farm in the U.S. and hunt for crabs or sea urchins. For lovers of partying and nightlife, you can take a pub crawl or bar hopping tour of the city's best venues with unconventional cocktails (I, for example, discovered the pisco sour with black corn flavor instead of the classic lemon version).

How do I get the most out of my journey?

  • Don't create inflated expectations or set yourself a goal for the journey, like "I'm going to climb in Nepal to figure out why I can't break through the glass ceiling in my career. Just do it and enjoy the process, the changes inside you will kick in one way or another, and the glass ceiling will burst on its own - or stop bothering you.
  • Don't chop off the shoulder. Even if during some extreme (whether physical, psychological, or cultural) experience, it seemed to you that you've got it all figured out for yourself and are about to turn your life upside down dramatically, don't do anything. The real assessment of the experience and the reflection will happen within three weeks after the trip. The Burning Man festival even has an unspoken rule - wait to make any vital decisions for three weeks after you leave the festival.
  • Listen to yourself and your reactions. Even if everyone says that skydiving is cool and you don't feel like it, you shouldn't. And that's okay too. Any personal growth, any life changes, should happen in stages, in small steps, in a comfortable mode.
Travel that can change you and your life is certainly not a mass-market product; it is piecework that requires many months of preparation, understanding the many organizational nuances and pitfalls, and serious investment. But the "return on investment" in this case is incomparably higher than the most respectable all-inclusive on the most comfortable beach because every minute on such a trip is an investment in yourself.