Five Lasting Ways Travel Can Affect You

October 21, 2019

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
—Henry Miller

As I was pressing Publish on last Monday’s “Simple Pleasures—Art and Flowers on the Maine Midcoast,” I realized that I’ve been sharing what I enjoyed on our trip to New Hampshire and Maine without sharing how those places and experiences affected me—and have continued to affect me, even now that I’ve been home for a couple of weeks. 

Aside from the relaxation and fun of the actual trip, I’ve found most trips leave traces behind: lasting effects on my happiness, a deepening of my understanding of the world around me, and even sometimes a change in how I live. Here are five ways travel affects me once I return home:

Spurs curiosity

Traveling reveals just how much I don’t know about the world. I often don’t know how things work in a new place, occasionally I don’t speak the language, and can easily find myself in a position of vulnerability. Excellent for reminding me that I don’t know it all, and that there are many ways to live and many reasons for doing things a certain way. It’s a perfect opportunity to be quiet and observe, and to ask questions.

I often come home wanting to learn about something I saw or experienced on vacation, also. Since I love to read, some of our excursions have been to authors’ homes, inspiring me to read or reread their work. Seeing one of Robert Frost’s homes has made me pull out a collection of his poetry I haven’t looked at for years. Visiting Mark Twain’s home in Connecticut spurred my interest in his writing, including his doorstop-sized autobiography.

I love exploring natural places and gardens, and wonder about various plants we see—what are they? Will they grow in Florida?

Encourages exercise

There’s nothing like a hilly hike the first day out to bring to your attention that your job is sedentary, and frankly, my dear, you’ve let that exercise program slide. Most of my trips involve exploring, whether it’s the hills of San Francisco, the city streets of Paris, or the hiking trails in New Hampshire. Exploring on foot is great…so long as your body can take it. Our recent trip was a big wake-up call—I need to make some changes to my fitness routine. In other words, I need to get back into having a fitness routine.

Rekindles creative drive

I almost always come home wanting to sketch more, take more photographs, write poetry, or add more creative flourishes to my non-fiction writing. Travel refills my creative well. This time, I came home wanting desperately to make something beautiful. (Maybe because we saw so much beauty?) Much of my writing work is service-oriented, which I love, but it isn’t necessarily beautiful. I need to find an outlet for that part of me that wants to make things pretty (see below).

Inspires us to add beauty to everyday life

A trip to England many years ago ignited a desire to plant flowers for cutting and grow pretty window boxes. I very much enjoyed aperitif in France, though without having someone to prepare it for me, I haven’t had much luck in instituting the practice. I even enjoy watching how people dress—as a work-at-home writer, I most often wear shorts or yoga pants and a t-shirt, so my fashion sense is, shall we say, stunted.

Aperitif at Le Vieux Couvent

Breaks the chain of bad habits

At home, I watch too much TV, eat too many unhealthy snacks, and get lazy about various life maintenance tasks. When I’m on a trip, life is distilled down to its essence. I have a bare minimum of things with me, and my to-do list becomes very short and sweet. I have time for the things I enjoy most. Suddenly reruns of Castle hold no appeal and I’m too busy doing something interesting to snack mindlessly. When I’m not actively exploring, I read, write in my journal, or sketch.

After I return home, I usually have a burst of energy and good intentions. At least for a while, my bad habits are reduced. The trick is holding on to good intentions, making better habits easier than falling back into the old bad habits. I haven’t entirely licked this problem, but I’m working on it.

Life is short, but it is wide, as the saying goes. There are so many good and interesting things in the world, so many simple pleasures and everyday adventures to discover—and traveling reminds me to look for those things, and incorporate them into daily life after I’m home.

What lasting traces do your travels leave behind?

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  1. Kathy I can see that traveling does inspire one. I haven't done much in recent years but even taking a day trip makes me see life with new eyes. I am so glad to read that you are reaping the benefits of the lovely trip. Have a great week friend. Hugs!

    1. Yes! Even a day trip can give you a little boost of inspiration. Hope you have a great week, too.

  2. you are reminding me...I don't travel as often as I used to...I'm so glad you are enjoying the traveling life!

    1. Rita--there are seasons of travel and seasons of staying home, I think. Both can be delightful! It's always a challenge to find just the right balance, but I do very much enjoy my opportunities to travel.