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Bitten by the travel bug

The quickest way to uplift your life is to plan a short weekend getaway and you will see the absolute difference it makes to your body and mind

Aldina Braganza

 

I have one life, and I have decided to use it wisely. Among the many wise things I have decided upon, is making time for the things I love doing, rather than compromising on what life has dished out to me. Getting trapped in your darkness is how we often play life. I have realised that there are no excuses. It’s how you prioritise what you consider important. If you are making excuses, life is not going to wait for you, it will pass you by. When you decide to stop making excuses and hold the reins of life in your hand, there is a great freedom that life will bestow upon you. With freedom comes responsibility. Responsibility means action.

So I decided to follow my passion and travel. Travelling incorporates many of the things I enjoy, namely people, nature, lifestyle, culture, food, adventure, creativity and beauty. Meeting new people, hearing their stories, walking their streets, listening to their music, witnessing their dance, food and art is not only intoxicating but also liberating. I love every moment of it, and I return rejuvenated as if I have been given a new lease to life.

Hundreds of moons before, I had a rule that I would travel four times a year. I have now reclaimed that rule, and it coincides very neatly with my off-time from my job.  There is a reason why I am so gaga about travelling. Travelling is my way of saying to myself: “you are alive and doing well”. It has now become my indicator of a life well lived.

And why not? Travel is known to be good for your soul and your mental well being. It’s not a secret, travel has benefits that you cannot ignore. For one, travel is an instant soul healer.

A shift from your regular routine works wonders to get your bearings back. The rut that gets you down also puts a block to your flow. The quickest way to uplift your life is to plan a short weekend getaway and you will see the absolute difference it makes to your body and mind. We are very lucky to live in Goa, a paradise with the most gorgeous coastline, relaxing forests and hinterland bliss. All you need is to take the time out of your busy schedule. On days when you have too much happening around you and you feel the need to recharge; pack your bags and seek out the hundreds of quaint little places across Goa and the bordering states that will offer you boarding at an affordable rate.

Many people consider travelling an expensive hobby. This is not true. Travel expenses are like any other form of expense. Moreover, there are budget travels today with unbeatable price range. The next greatest benefit of travel is the chance to meet new people, witness new cultures, taste new foods and imbibe a very valuable lesson of openness. Variety allows you to experience the true meaning of uniqueness. You begin to realise that the world is not as small as you imagine it to be. There is so much more to life than our limited beliefs.

Every one of us has a unique narrative. As a woman from Goa, I have learned that I am different from women in Bhutan or Russia, yet there are many things similar that we both share. For example, heartache and shame are felt with the same intensity. You learn this only when you talk, share and witness other cultures. Travel teaches you to explore. When you take that off-beaten path, you come face-to-face with beauty and realise that the face of fear is an illusion.

People hesitate to travel because of the notion of being harmed or robbed. In reality, danger exists everywhere; it is not unique to one culture. Certain precautions are required. For example, if you are being adventurous about food, make sure you are not eating from a place exposed to insects and rodents, or if you are walking in a busy street, make sure you’re not flashing your expensive phone or it could get stolen.

Travelling is also a good way to bond with family and friends. It is an opportunity for members to come together and get to know each other in a completely neutral setting. Planning a specific route or handling a delayed flight are good ways to test how people work and interact with each other. Travelling can strengthen relationship as well as break them up.

Finally travel is known to improve the health of your brain. New experiences can boost your cognitive flexibility and keeps your mind sharp. In fact, they say that when you travel, your exposure to new cultures opens your outlook to life. It boosts your creativity levels and personal growth and improves your personality development. In fact, one study points out that travellers are more open minded and emotionally stable.

So what is stopping you? Figure it out. Get it out of the way and pack your bags. Travel well. Travel happy.

(Writer is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and the HOD of psychology at Carmel College for Women)

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