After graduating, I decided to spend a couple of months backpacking throughout Southeast Asia. Before leaving, I told my family I would be back in three months. Three months turned into six months and six months turned into one year. It has now been almost two years and I am still spending a large amount of time outside of the United States.
If you are thinking something in your life needs to change or you have no idea what to do whether you are about to graduate or are just in a state of transition, I would strongly recommend traveling. There is nothing like being welcomed into a whole new world of questioning, exploring, and discovering after having all of your previously held beliefs thrown out the window.
If you think you know what you want to do, all the more reason to go out there and travel. As scary as it sounds, it may just bring in new experiences that will change the way you already look at things. Before I left I thought I had everything figured out. After a couple months of traveling, it turns out I had the same thought as author Parker J. Parker did when he woke one morning: “The life I am living is not the same as the life that wants to live in me.”
If money is stopping you, don’t let it. It sounds cliché, but at the end of these experiences you won’t be thinking about the amount of money you spent. The experiences will amount to way more than any amount of money.
As many others will claim, India changed my life. I grew up spending time in the villages my parents were born and raised and was involved with grassroots non-profit in the villages of Gujarat, India. I experienced India through the lens of service while many others experience it through holy sites and varying landscapes. If there is one thing I would recommend doing when in India, it would be exploring the diverse ecosystems built upon community and service.
If you are searching for a place to spend your time, I would recommend Manav Sadhna, a beautiful organization based out of Gandhi Ashram which works five slum communities in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
I spent almost 6 months backpacking throughout Southeast Asia and found Vietnam to be my favorite country. The country, with amazing landscapes and kind people, was my favorite because of the way I saw it, not what I saw. A friend and I bought our own motorbikes and spent almost 2 months riding from Ho Chi Minh City to the mountains between Vietnam and China. I did part of the ride in the north alone and would recommend the experience to anyone who is interested. If you want more information, you can visit this guide I wrote about the experience.
If there is any experience out of these five I would recommend the most, it would be to walk the Camino de Santiago across Spain. Late last year, I walked almost 950 kilometers along the Camino Frances on the Camino de Santiago. The pilgrimage started from the border of France and Spain to the westernmost coast of Spain. I wrote some posts about my experiences that you can see here.
Amongst the many places that I could recommend, Thailand would be at the top. It’s fairly easy to travel within the country and you’ll find varying landscapes. If there is one thing I would say to keep in mind when visiting here, it would be to evaluate why you’re going. If you want to go and spend time with other travelers, it’s a great place to be. There are places you go to have some alone time, but I would recommend doing the research before you go.
Here is a little guide to Thailand I wrote to give you a bit of an idea of what to expect.
I know what you’re thinking. Wales?! Amongst the travel sites I’ve visited, I don’t think anyone has recommended Wales. However, after spending a couple of days there in 2013, I would love to go back. If you’re looking for quiet time to reflect and understand yourself a little better, Wales is a great place to start.
So, to end I will leave you with some wise words from Parker J. Palmer:
Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.
Traveling has been way more than seeing places, it has been about the people and the experiences that come with them. A Spanish poet once said to me, “The world is a book which you read with your feet”. Go out there, explore, and see what beautiful surprises the world has in store for you.
If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!
About The Author
Rina Patel has spent the greater part of this year understanding how she can bring an intersection between inner transformation and social change. Through writing, dialogue circles, business consulting, and immersing herself in different spaces, she’s still trying to navigate her way and find what, if anything, falls within this intersection. You can check out what she’s up to now here. You can also learn more about her travels, learning journey, and reflections on her blog or writings page.