In the 21st century, the world faces stiff challenges every day to meet its unlimited demands with limited supplies. We are dependent on each other for everything, starting from little bottles of hand sanitizers to maintain hygiene to billion dollar space programmes to receive high resolution live broadcast of matches from every corner of the world. The world is unimaginably dependent and heavily interconnected. A tiny lapse somewhere can trigger a worldwide disaster or a small innovative idea can change the perception of billions, forever. Governments and thousands of organizations across the world are taking giant strides to make the world a better place to live in. But that has its own consequences, as a time will definitely come when we will be paying tax for the very air we breathe.
During the Stone Age the human beings were very independent, largely disconnected and returns depended entirely on an individual. Our forefathers used to hunt down animals for food, clothing, shelter and safety; there were nothing like man made catastrophes. Each and every person was an entrepreneur. Then times changed, people started employing other people under them, which made them more powerful and the balanced got altered in return. This led to inequality, leading to slavery, civil wars and global depressions, which had worldwide repercussions. So now if Detroit loses its charm (with the bankruptcy of motor companies) and people go jobless, it will directly impact their families in Dhaka, Dublin and Darwin at the same time.
So what do we actually lack?
Dis-connectivity, independence and investments with assured returns.
One of the best way to enjoy all three is by traveling solo. (mainly)
Disconnected travel can lead to massive mental growth, helps in cutting down stress enormously and make us more daring as we take every step into a world, unknown (Still to a certain extent in the era of satellite maps and GPS) and with our own intuition.
When we travel the first thing we feel is freedom. We might still get up at 6:30 in the morning, not for client meetings but for a far more desirous sunrise over the Alps in Svalbard! We never put our alarms on snooze when we travel, in other words we don’t procrastinate.
Also as it is commonly said the best things in the life are not things (literally), I think the statement is damn true. I remember the feeling as a kid, when I got my first video game, it was nowhere close to the feeling I had after an exhilarating cliff jump in the Himalayas. I did not depend on anyone or anything. I still remember the dark clouds over the mountain top and the feeling of free-fall, but I don’t know in which landfill my videogame has gone in.
And the last thing, assured returns. I think it is good to save some money to travel. Though it would not give us any tangible returns, but it definitely make us feel happy. You get to meet new people and make new friends who can be really special. Last time when I went for a trek in the Himalayas, I met people from all five continents on my way. We greeted each other and shared stories and our views. I am not in touch with anyone of them, but I still feel happy when I think about them. On the contrary, I also meet people from all 5 continents in my office almost every day. But I hardly know anyone even though we all sit in the same building. This is where I think dis-connectivity plays a huge role, the thought that you might not be meeting the person ever again in either of your lives makes it so special! We tend to get more free with such people. The feeling is just incredible.
The scientific reason
Evidence from neuroscience shows that when we are threatened or under intense work pressure (includes examinations) the reptilian part of the brain (as shown in the image) becomes hyperactive, making the pre frontal cortex passive which leads to lack of executive functions, thinking, planning, organizing, problem solving, emotions, behavioral control and personality. So we “literally” lose control, depending upon the scale and duration of the threat. It may not just affect our work but simple decisions may seem complex leading to various (involuntary) actions which we later regret.
Thus I believe, travel is an investment to keep your brain running while you fulfill your heart.
The best way of discovering yourself.
Having said that, I have amazing friends with whom I go on trips. Spend nights in the middle of the beach, watch the sun go down while cracking out laughing and drinking. My parents and my brother showed me the world in a way which I still think is priceless. I like what I do and I am twenty two (almost), which reminds me of Anthony Bourdain’s quote “If you are 22, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better. I urge you to travel- as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live eat and cook. Learn from them, wherever you go. “
But traveling solo can be mind boggling and what makes it magical is the risk we take, by leaving it unplanned!
I look forward to this. So it’s Friday and my backpack beckons me… 😉