10 Travel Experiences that will Change YOU Forever
Updated: Jun 13
Are you in need of a change in your life? Are you searching for a life-changing travel experience? This article has got you covered. Read how these 10 unique travel experiences will change you and find out where to seek them. We have experienced each and every one of them ourselves, which truly has changed our lives in many ways. Get inspired to travel!
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1. Travel Solo
Traveling all by yourself into the unknown is becoming more popular! However, to some, it may look scary and daunting. When traveling solo, you are in charge of every part of your trip… from the initial planning to being on the road all by yourself. That does not mean that you will feel more lonely or uncomfortable. Contrarily, it means that you are FREE… you can do whatever you want at your own pace. Do you want to meet new people? Go for it! Do you enjoy this time to yourself? Also fine! Doesn’t that sound appealing?
This ultimate freedom means that you travel without compromises, limitations, or back-up. Traveling solo will change you as a person. It will not only make you more independent and determined, but in some cases even allow you to truly find yourself. Being away from others’ opinions and judgments, you are free to make your own decisions.
If you are new to solo traveling, you will need to choose your destination wisely. Yes, some places are ‘easier’ to travel solo as they are better set up for travelers and backpackers. A safe bet would be South-East Asia, Mexico, Peru, Australia, or New Zealand. In these destinations, you will find many other solo travelers and backpackers so it is easier to connect! Less-traveled regions like Africa and Central Asia pose bigger challenges.
I have traveled around South-East Asia by myself. Not one moment did I feel lonely or uncomfortable because I met so many backpackers along the way. Some of them even turned into life-long friends!
2. Volunteer Abroad
There are many Third World countries that need help. May it be after a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or simply to improve the living standard of a community, there are tremendous opportunities! Volunteering is a unique travel experience as you will fully immerse yourself in the local culture. You will engage with the local community on a daily basis while working with them. Even though you may have to cope with poor infrastructure and other uncomfortable situations, you’ve assured the warmest welcome. There are many organizations that offer a wealth of volunteer programs, making it easier to find one you’re truly passionate about.
Not only will you change someone else’s life, but also your own. Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience and its benefits are often indescribable. You will get exposed to vulnerable situations and populations, which will impact your heart, mind, and soul. At times, the work you do may be difficult, confronting, or eye-opening. It may change your perspective on life completely!
There are volunteering projects all over the world… from nature conservation in Central America to social and community building in Africa and India, and post-disaster projects in specific countries like the earthquake in Nepal or the fires in Australia.
I was engaged in a voluntary project in Sri Lanka around education in schools for about 3 months. I really enjoyed working together with other volunteers, the local students, and the project team. It was a rewarding experience!
3. Go someplace completely different
Going someplace completely different means far away from your home, where the culture, geography, languages, politics, economics, religion, and ethnicity are completely different. A land of contrast will activate and enhance all of your five senses, which may transform your life. There are many countries that hold onto their traditional beliefs and customs. Especially those who are not overridden with tourists and have escaped the influence of the West.
By traveling to a faraway place you will gain invaluable educational experience. You will open your eyes and broaden your perspectives while learning about the various aspects of the country.
For those who live in the Western World, there are many places in Asia and Africa that are vastly different in terms of culture, religion, languages, etc. To get the most out of your experience, go someplace less-trotted, like Mali or Burkina Faso in Africa, or Bhutan or Mongolia in Asia. If this sounds all too challenging, opt for a vastly different place that is better set up for travelers, like India, Sri Lanka, China or Cuba.
The most contrasting place I’ve been to was India. This land of contrasts changed my perspective on life. I first experienced a culture shock because of all the chaos and poverty around me. Soon I realized that I was privileged and blessed with my life at home. It made me appreciate the simple things more.
4. Travel long-term
Even though a two-week trip provides a great introduction to a new place, it does not let you fully immerse yourself. Instead, go on a long journey of two months, six months, a year, or even longer! Extended traveling means you can cover more ground while fully taking in the environment. It also allows you to travel more slowly, meet more like-minded people, and to reflect on your life at home.
Traveling long-term will give you more freedom. You don’t have to plan every step of the way, but rather take your time and have wiggle room for spontaneity. By reflecting on your own life and meeting other backpackers along the way, you may shift your mindset and perspective on life. You may discover what really interests you and find new passions.
Everywhere! If you have a lot of time, you can go on a round-the-world trip. If you have only a few months, it might be better to focus on one region, such as South-East Asia, South America, or Oceania.
I made two long-term trips, one across South-East Asia and another one across South America. While traveling South-East Asia I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. One of the fellow backpackers I met inspired me to go study International Tourism Management at the same university she was doing an internship in Indonesia for at that time.
5. Travel with strangers
We all know that best friends don’t necessarily equal our ideal travel companions. It is hard to travel with someone who does not share the exact same travel interests and style. Especially when traveling for longer, friendships often get destroyed. Hence, it can be wiser (and fun!) to join a group of like-minded strangers instead. There are many small-group tours targeting a specific type of travelers. May it be a hiking trip across the Alps or a cultural discovery tour to Cambodia. One thing is sure… you will end up with travelers who share the same travel interest or goal.
By traveling with strangers who share the same interests, you will be able to bond easily. You may even make new friends for life. It is also a more comfortable way of traveling, not putting yourself too much out there.
Small-group trips go to every corner of the globe. You can sign up with a specific travel agent who organizes the group tour completely or simply look for like-minded travel buddies in Facebook groups or other online platforms. It is great if you are interested in a specific niche of traveling… like exploring the Outback of Australia while camping, hiking in the Mount Everest region, or going on a safari to Kenya.
I usually included small-group tours within my longer holidays. These varied from multi-day treks in the mountains to boat tours to uninhabited islands! All of them made for great memories and sometimes even lasting friendships.
6. Disconnect from reality but connect to nature and people
Technology has taken over our daily lives. We are all connected 24/7 via the internet. While it is great that we can easily work and communicate via our smartphone and laptop these days, it also burdensome to our travels. We can’t fully enjoy when being constantly reminded about work and life at home. Disconnect from reality for a while by traveling completely off-the-grid. Go somewhere wild and remote to escape the online world. Totally free your mind by connecting to nature and other people instead.
Disconnecting from reality allows you to put away the stress from work and home. The focus is on yourself and your surroundings. Connecting to nature and other people may make you feel inspired and rejuvenated.
It is hard to disconnect these days as a connection is found almost anywhere. Travel to remote destinations like the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies and the Yukon, the Namib Desert, the Amazon, or out on the ocean.
We usually disconnect at least a few times during our trip. Whether it was during a multi-day hike deep in the mountains or simply during our travels in more remote places in Namibia and South Africa. If you don’t buy a local SIM card, you are often ‘forced’ to disconnect.
7. Challenge yourself: do something you haven’t done before
Traveling to the same place over and over again in the same old ways may become habitual and boring. Instead, take a trip in which you challenge yourself and break away from the routine. May it be that you go somewhere new and exciting, change your style of traveling, use a different mode of transportation, or simply try out a new activity like a multi-day excursion in the mountains!
New experiences will make you feel alive again! They shake up your life and open you up to more experiences. You will feel more fulfilled with life and become more confident.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done before.”
This travel experience is rather broad, hence can be found anywhere! Follow local bloggers or social media to get inspiration!
Almost every trip we undertake is to someplace new. We really enjoy exploring the unknown and doing new things! Some of my most memorable moments include skydiving in Hawaii, a multi-day trek to the top of a volcano in Indonesia, and traveling by scooter around Indonesia.
8. Go to a spiritual place
‘Spiritual’ means different things to different people. For some, it is closely associated with religion. These people see a spiritual journey as a way of worshipping a divinity at a temple or going on a pilgrimage to a holy place. For others, it means to escape the crowds by immersing yourself in nature or at a yoga and meditation retreat. These spiritual journeys are about seeping into your being and finding yourself.
Spiritual places offer an opportunity for self-discovery and self-reflection, which will allow you to grow and learn as a person. By engaging in healing practices or spiritual ceremonies, you can learn how to reconnect with yourself. You will return home feeling rejuvenated, with a greater sense of purpose and a new perspective on life.
You can find many of the spiritual places in Asia. Popular locations for a yoga and meditation retreat include Rishikesh or Goa in India and Bali in Indonesia. While interesting spiritual ceremonies can be found in Bhutan, Japan, Tibet, or Sri Lanka.
I never took part in a yoga and meditation retreat, but I did attend a vast amount of spiritual ceremonies in both Sri Lanka and India. The most spiritual place I’ve found was Varanasi, which is the holiest city in India. Spirituality was surrounding me and taught me to self-reflect.
9. Work and Live Abroad
Working and living abroad for a year or longer is a unique experience that changes you in more ways than you can imagine! With globalization at the forefront, it has become easier than ever to move abroad. Add to that the fact that English is widely spoken all around the world and many companies are operating in English. A year-long work and holiday visa is the most popular option as it allows you to both work and live in a given country, without fully committing to move there.
You can travel longer and fully immerse yourself in a country’s culture and way of life. This travel experience cannot be matched by any other holiday. A working holiday will create a deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture and your life.
Popular working holiday destinations include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and France. However, the list is endless. Check out this blog post to see where you are eligible to go.
I am currently in Canada on a working holiday visa. For most of my time, I worked a 9 to 5 job while exploring nature and wildlife during the weekends and holidays. Having worked and made friends with Canadians, I can call myself a Canada expert now!
10. Get out of your comfort zone
Getting out of your comfort zone while traveling can be achieved by any of the travel experiences mentioned in this article. It really depends on you and what you consider to be an uphill battle. It isn’t always easy to put yourself out there. Especially when expecting the worst-case scenario. Break that barrier and prove yourself wrong!
Getting out of your comfort zone creates good stress that improves your focus, creativity, pace, and drive. It also helps you to better deal with life stress when unexpected things happen.
Any place or travel experience that is out of your comfort zone! JUST DO IT!
Are you curious in which ways travel can change you? Check out our Benefits of Traveling article.
Which travel experience has changed your life forever? Leave a comment below!