Somewhere between accepting and negotiating the leave applications of employees, specially before Summer or Christmas vacations and planning for the upcoming Board meetings, the thought does cross our heads if we should put some more effort in the much promised chasing of the Northern Lights trip or the month long Amazon Forest trail. Then the next email pings and we slot the thought into the 'To-Do some other time' Box and get on with the day.
While we do realize the value of taking a break from our work and emails, we barely manage to squeeze in a weeks (or two if lucky) vacation in a year, many times combined with the Conference we are attending in London or Singapore. While this does qualify as a vacation, it definitely falls short of the travel boost we need - to quench our thirst for the exploration, discovery and wanderlust.
And, before we dismiss such thoughts as desires of our much younger, much forgotten hippie self and not something which fits into the current exhilarating Corporate CXO lifestyle, we need to really understand the value such kind of travel brings to us, to enhance our personal as well as professional lives.
Spending enough time in a country or region, exploring cultures, meeting interesting people with varied points of views, sharing meals with strangers is a life changing experience. Travel and being outside our comfort zone makes us more open and accepting of others points of views. I have found this to be such a fabulous way of shaking me out of my sometimes very fixed mindset. I have found it makes me much more accepting of ideas and solutions, which I probably would not have considered in day to day discussions.
Being on the road for a longer period of time, more than 10 days in a particular country or city, makes us understand the seemingly strange rituals and practices of the locals. We start echoing the commonly used words, thus picking up a new language. We figure out the local favorite dishes and their variations and the popular entertainment options, which many times are so unlike the ones we usually enjoy back home. But, on the road, we are amenable to trying and maybe even liking so much more.
Travelling is sometimes like a crash course in life's lessons. Being on the road, we learn about compassion, patience, missed opportunities, random blessings, perseverance and not taking anything for granted. We learn to appreciate even the smallest of things.
Travel also helps us form memories - of interesting times, places and people. The time away from your regular life is what you always talk about to your friends, family and colleagues. The fascinating stories of missed trains, random kindnesses, the prettiest street you chanced upon, chance encounters in coffee shops and the exhilarating drive down the coast. These are the memories that keep you alive and kicking, sometimes while you struggle through the most mundane meetings and discussions or even in the most lively parties where you will have a devoted crowd of eager listeners, waiting for your tales.
Travelling with friends / partners/families also enhances the bonds and makes us appreciate them more. We sometimes tend to take for granted so many of these qualities of our friends and families. Being on the road with them and sharing experiences and memories, makes these bonds stronger and much deeper. It also gives us a deeper understanding of their thinking and feelings, which may be difficult to gauge in the blur of day to day. Isn't that one of the key reasons why companies have off-sites, to improve employee bonding.
Travel can be much more than the annual couple of weeks on a beach. It does not matter if you are chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland or Bungee Jumping in New Zealand, enjoying a private picnic on a hill in South Africa or even riding a Bullet through the dizzying passes of Ladakh. Our amazing experiences can go beyond the initial fun and excitement and lead us to break the shackles of the day to day and liberate our thinking beyond our capabilities. Travel should be taken not just as a break from the regular but as an enriching experience to revel in.
Vishal Hanmattekar is a Travel Entrepreneur & Co-Founder of The Blueberry Trails, an Experiential Online Travel start-up. He is also a freelancing Travel Photographer who loves travelling solo and has already been to over 20 countries. Vishal left a successful Corporate career in Marketing & CRM to pursue his passion of Travel and Photography