Has travelling changed your life?

Travelling can make you reassess your life.
Travelling can make you reassess your life. Photo: Reuters

No one ever becomes a hedge-fund manager. Or a stock-broker.

You never hear of anyone coming back from a big overseas trip and switching to the dark side. There's never been a dolphin trainer who's travelled the world and realised, damn, I should become a lawyer.

Epiphanies don't work like that. It goes the other way.

You quit corporate life to become a surf instructor. You ditch your nine-to-five for something a bit more fun.

There's nothing like travel to sort through your life. It's that time away from the everyday, I guess, that gives people the chance to decide what they really want to do with themselves. And that can lead to some major changes.

It's not just the time off. Travelling gives you a window into other people's lives, which can lend a fresh perspective on your own. OK, so there's a guy in Thailand who seems perfectly happy with being a fisherman – so why do we put ourselves through the daily miserable grind?

Travel is a hell of a lot of fun, too, which makes you think: wouldn't it be nice to feel like this all the time? Now, how do I make it happen?

That's the kind of epiphany that makes you quit your job and find something you really like; or dump your partner and find someone you really like; or leave your hometown and make a new life elsewhere.

I've never really had one, unfortunately – not a bolt from the blue when I suddenly decided, yep, things have to change.

I travelled for a year after high school, and yet still came back and attempted a science degree. (It lasted six months.) I took another year off as a career break, and yet still continued as a sub-editor. (That lasted a couple of years.)

I've never ditched it all and become a social worker, or suddenly realised that I want to move to Bali and become an experimental electronic artist. But I'll bet there are hundreds of people out there who have (alright, maybe not the Bali electronic artist thing, but you get the idea).

Like I said earlier, travel seems to inspire moves towards the creative, or the socially responsible, or at least the enjoyable.

Plenty of people take off to travel because they're unhappy with the status quo; being away from home just reinforces the idea that something has to change. Life has to be better.

Maybe the real epiphany that most people have on the road is that life should be fun, and it should be spent doing something that you're not going to hate for 40 hours every week.

That's why you'll search long and hard to find someone who's come back from an overseas sojourn with a burning passion for finance (unless, hell, that's what really makes them happy).

It's almost a dangerous prospect, really. When you make the commitment to leave your normal life and travel for long time, you never know what you'll make of it all when you get back.

Your whole mindset might have changed; your whole world might have changed.

But then, that's what so great about it.

Have you ever had an epiphany while travelling? Has it encouraged you to make major changes in your life?

Follow Ben Groundwater on Twitter @bengroundwater

email: bengroundwater@gmail.com

* Unfortunately today's "Ask Ben" live blog had to be cancelled due to technical issues. We'll try it again next month.

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