“It’s a sniper hole”, our guide casually mentioned as he brushed away some leaves and picked up what looked like the lid of a small box built into the ground. Beneath was a dark hole, stretching into a tunnel that looked like something only a small child could fit into.
“Does anyone want to climb in and close the lid?”
“Yes”. Wait. What? Had I just agreed to that?
Travel can teach us to choose adventure, in the face of a more normal cautious response.
When you’re travelling it’s somehow easier to take chances. Something about being in a different place can help you throw off your inhibitions and step outside of your usual self.
Swim in water in a national park in the middle of Vietnam infested with god knows what? Yeah, why not?
Creep around in some caves in the back and beyond of Canada, no gear, no torch, and no one knows where you are? Sounds fun!
Move to a new country, sight unseen? Well clearly it will be awesome.
Despite outward appearances my natural personality is actually a cautious one, and part of the reason I love to travel so much is because it’s actively helped me overcome this. This doesn’t mean my heart still doesn’t pound with fear sometimes or that my brain doesn’t try to freeze my muscles as I attempt to do something, I’ve just learned that for me the rewards are always worth it, the feeling of triumph in even the small wins I have in pushing myself.
But choosing the adventure doesn’t always mean big sweeping decisions, adventure activities or travel, sometimes it’s as simple as walking to work for a change, or speaking to someone in the line at the store.
It’s not a new idea that travelling changes you, broadens your horizons and pushes you out of your comfort zone. That travel can immerse you in different cultures leading you to make different decisions and have experiences you wouldn’t have at home.
But what happens when you go home, or make a new one somewhere?
Most likely, aside from the post-travel blues, you’re brimming with excitement and newfound knowledge, wanting to talk to everyone about all your adventures. Except no one is going to understand them like you do. How that sunrise over a temple made you feel, the people you met, the hilarious friends you made and all your inside jokes.
Slowly things slip back to normal, or become normal if you’re living abroad, and you go about your daily routine inside your comfort zone. While the travel may have changed you, it’s less obvious now.
But it doesn’t haven’t to be. You can keep the lessons so many of us talk about from travel.
There are so many opportunities in daily life to choose the adventure.
Speak to new people, try a new hobby, volunteer at home, not just when you’re travelling. These are all things that can enrich your life, and become adventures in their own right. Maybe you’ll make a friend who becomes a friend for life, maybe you’ll find a new career path, or gain satisfaction from helping others as home, as much as you might have abroad.
That day at the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam was just another time I surprised even myself by taking a chance. It’s not a happy or easy place to go to, but closing the lid on a dark place in reality and in history, is a reminder for me to make that extra effort to do something that scares me when I’m in my normal life.
There’s always a reason to hesitate, to not try, to take the well worn path. I don’t mean to preach, but I do think we all need a little reminder every now and then, myself included.
Don’t let the habit of choosing the adventure in travel fade away when you get home.
Have you been travelling and found it changed your “normal” life?
Want some more inspiration? Check out these travel quotes to fuel your wanderlust!
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