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Travel: The Ultimate Personal Development Tool

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man sitting on a mountain while traveling
With the explosion of websites, podcasts, and conferences teaching you how to improve your life (this one being no exception), it’s clear many of us want to become a better version of ourselves. We all want to be the person we imagine we could be if given just the right circumstances.

We want to learn more languages.

We want to be less awkward in social situations.

We want to eat better.

We want to read more.

We want to work out more.

We want to travel more.

We want to be more active.

We want to be more independent.

The list goes on and on!!

So often we go through life without really thinking about where we are heading. One day turns into the next and all those things we desire to do and become seem to pile up while we look for the perfect day to start.

Over the last year, I’ve had my ups and downs and have been working hard to make changes to my life. It takes a lot of work to change. Even one or two changes to change your life requires concentrated effort and persistence. But to make a hundred changes? That is biting off more than you can chew. No one has the mental energy or time to do that.

That’s why most new year’s resolutions fail. We create a long list of things to accomplish in the new year but, in the end, most of us give up, overwhelmed by all we want to do.

So when people tell me all the ways they want to improve their lives, my advice to them is to travel for one simple reason:

Travel solves a plethora of self-improvement goals in one fell swoop.

Picture this: You’ve booked a flight to Kiev. You don’t speak Ukrainian or Russian. And, to top it off, you’re going alone. You land in Kiev. Now, you have to navigate signs in a different language, ask people who probably don’t speak your language well for directions (maybe pantomime and point at maps indicating where you want to go), get to your hostel, make friends in the dorm (no one wants to be alone), and get around and sightsee the city during your stay.

By the time you leave, you’ve learned how to communicate even when you don’t speak the language, figured out how to navigate an unknown place, learned to turn strangers into friends, learned how to be independent, and solved a slew of problems that came up as you made your way around a foreign country.

During one trip, you got better at communication, problem solving, languages, social situations, and improved your confidence in your ability to do new things and handle unexpected situations.

Why? Because you had to. You had no other choice.

And you didn’t even know you were doing it.

People always ask me about the moment I realized I “changed.” While there are moments in your life that ripple through the years, for me, there was no single instance that I can point to that turned me from a shy introvert who never traveled to someone able to plop down in any city, find my way, and turn strangers into friends. It was a process that happened slowly over time.

Before I set out on my first trip around the world, I had never really lived outside my state, hadn’t traveled much, had a small group of friends, and had only been in one relationship.

I was a nerdy introvert. While the old parts of me are still there (I’ll still gravitate towards my friends at a party rather than talk to someone I don’t know), it’s become a lot easier for me to talk to new people when there’s no one familiar around. While I still run through all the “what ifs” when I get on a plane to a new destination, when I land I hit the ground running (and wonder why I was ever worried in the first place).

Traveling forced me out of my routine. It helped me become independent, take more risks, be ok with change, get better with people, learn more, and be more versatile.

Travel is not some panacea. The baggage you have comes with you on the road. There is no place far enough away to escape your problems. But what travel does is give you the space to be someone else and improve your life. It allows you to say “What would the new me do?” and then do it – without worrying that someone you know might notice. It puts you into situations that force you to better yourself. It won’t instantly solve your problems — only you can do that — but at least, on the road, you have a clean slate to try.

As the new year approaches and you create your list of resolutions, cross them all off, and just write one down: to travel alone more.

It is the ultimate way to become a better, more confident you.

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Travel

8 Ways to Truly Unplug on Vacation

It’s a proven fact that the art of unwinding is actually very beneficial to our mental and physical health.  once you relax, your mind just works better, the synapses fire quicker and you are more mentally strong.  We all need this kind of break very once in awhile, so check out and get that mental rejuvenation. These 8 practices are the best practices to unwinding and truly unplugging, so get to work relaxing. 

 

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Quit saying that you need a break and actually take one, book a vacation and unwind.  Everyone needs to recharge every once in awhile, so if it’s time for you to vacation, here are some tips on how to unplug and get some much needed rest and relaxation.

If your first question when deciding where to vacation is “Can I get WiFi?” you are not in the minority.  In today’s world full of technology and the need to be connected, it’s almost impossible to truly unplug.  It seems impossible to disconnect from the outside world and really relax, but if you try, anything is possible. 

It’s a proven fact that the art of unwinding is actually very beneficial to our mental and physical health.  once you relax, your mind just works better, the synapses fire quicker and you are more mentally strong.  We all need this kind of break very once in awhile, so check out and get that mental rejuvenation.

These 8 practices are the best practices to unwinding and truly unplugging, so get to work relaxing. 

8 Ways to Make Your Vacation Time Totally Worth It

1. Stay within your budget.  Most people stress about money anyway, so you don’t need that added stress on vacation.  It’s best to stick to your budget and enjoy your time off, no need to think if you can afford it.  No need for a long getaway, instead, book a weekend trip and jam the relaxation into a shorter, cheaper period of time.             

2. Get yourself in order before you go.  Don’t leave town with unfinished business and let your mind really be free.  If you go on vacation thinking about the project you never finished or the work you still need to do, then you won’t ever actually relax.   Relax like a pro and leave your work and stress behind.  Stop thinking about work, it’s the whole reason you are on vacation.               

3. Remind yourself that, yes, you deserve a vacation.   Stop feeling guilty for taking your much needed time off, you deserve it.  Actually, you probably deserve much more, but out society only lets you take so much time off.  In Europe, most companies give employees months off so they can really relax. Can you imagine taking that much time off work? How relaxed would you be after?             

4. Don’t worry about what you should be doing.   Stop letting other’s expectations ruin your good time.  There is no manual on vacation and there is no set plan, if you want to do nothing, then dammit, do nothing.  Once again, this vacation is for your mental health, not your friends, or coworkers.   Take the time to enjoy doing whatever relaxes you and stop worrying about what other people think.             

5. If a problem pops up while you’re away, redirect it.   Most problems can wait for when you return from vacation, so just stop stressing. Of Course, if it’s an emergency, deal with it, any other case, push it to the back burner and deal with it when you check back into reality. 

            

6. Try meditating.   Meditating is the ultimate form of relaxation, so take a tip from some real chill people and try to meditate.  If anything, you will get some seriously valuable alone time.  If you don’t feel like meditating, cool, just go for a solo walk or sit alone in a dark room for a while.   

7. Set some connectivity ground rules—and abide by them!   My wife and I have a simple rule, no phones at the dinner table and this helps us connect with each other instead of social media.  Use this same rule on vacation but maybe expand it.  No phone during certain hours or during some activity.  These small steps will really help you set your boundaries and unplug.  Stop checking your voicemail and email, these are keeping you grounded to reality, let’s forget those for a little bit.         

8. Ease back into reality.   I hate coming home from a vacation and going back to work the next day.  I always give myself a day t recover and slowly work myself back into reality.  

Hopefully these tips help you unplug and really get that R & R that we all so dearly need.  A vacation should relax us and reset our brains so that when we do go back to work, we are ready to take on any task and perform at the best of our abilities.

 

 

Photos Courtesy of Fotlia, GettyImages, Knockturnal

This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com.

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Things You Didn’t Know You Can Get Free On A Flight

Traveling can cost a lot of money, and traveling by plane can be one of the most expensive modes of travel. And it seems that as an airplane passenger you receive less amenities with each passing year. Not everything has to cost an arm and a…

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Traveling can cost a lot of money, and traveling by plane can be one of the most expensive modes of travel. And it seems that as an airplane passenger you receive less amenities with each passing year. Not everything has to cost an arm and a leg during your flight, here are some things that you can still get for free during your flight.

When the flight attendant comes around with the snack cart ask for more. When handed a cup of water, or a cup of soda with ice ask for the can or for the bottle. Unless the flight is running low, most flight attendants are glad to give them to you. If there are left over snacks the flight attendants are happy to serve them to you, so don’t hesitate to ask. Some airlines offer hot cocoa for the kids as a treat when serving coffee and tea to the adults. 

Traveling with children can be difficult, keeping them entertained during all of the chaos is always challenging. A wing pin is a great souvenir, something to treasure for years, and a gift the flight attendant may offer a well behaved child. But don’t be afraid to ask if no offer is made. If you ask at the right time, usually after the flight when the pilot isn’t working, you may even be able to get a cockpit tour. 

Need a sanitizing wipe for the armrest or tray table? Most airlines carry them. Need a first aid item? Most airlines carry the basic first aid supplies, and can even offer you a pain reliever if you have forgotten that all important bottle of ibuprofen. Get to know your flight attendant as they know what their particular airline has to offer. 

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Read This Before Traveling with Pets

Traveling with your four legged friends: The term family is so broad nowadays especially considering how we view our pets. My dogs are not just parts of my family but they are the bond that keeps us going. Today pets are becoming more intertwined in…

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Traveling with your four legged friends:

The term family is so broad nowadays especially considering how we view our pets. My dogs are not just parts of my family but they are the bond that keeps us going. Today pets are becoming more intertwined in our lives and going everywhere we go. Its rare that I go on a plane and their isn’t an emotional support dog sitting close to me. Everywhere we go is becoming more and more accessible for animals and over half of American’s travel with their pets.

I bring my guys with me whenever I can and it makes me happier to have them with me. Animals are important because they have positive impacts on our lives and we need more positivity in our world.

I would never put my animals underneath the plane or in a cargo bay, bit that is a personal preference. Some dogs are perfectly fine with going down in the cargo, but not my babies. For the pet owners like me, getting your pet registered as s support animal is the way to go.

It’s becoming easier to get your dog or cat or really whatever pet registered as an emotional support animal, which means you can literally bring them anywhere. It doesn’t matter what the reason, because of the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) its illegal for someone to ask you why you need the support.

Emotional Support Animal

This is the best way to travel with your pet because with a support animal, you are not restricted by where you can take your pet. The process is actually pretty easy and only takes a few steps. First, to technically have an emotional support animal, you need to suffer from some sort of mental or emotional disability, which 1 in 4 Americans have. These disabilities can range from PTSD all the way to anxiety. Once you are diagnosed with an issue, you need an official letter from a licensed clinical professional. Now all you have to do is find a reputable certification company like CertaPet to process your application and pass their screening process. Now with an official prescription for an emotional support animal, you can take your furry friend anywhere you go.

Consult your Veterinarian

Always check with your vet before you book your travel, some animals may not be suited for travel. It’s always good to consult your vet and get your entire pet’s shots and medicine before travel. Some destinations will require you to have a health certificate for your pet to pass quarantine. It’s also just a rule of thumb to see if your destination has a mandatory quarantine and for how long. Some countries and islands more specifically have stricter guidelines to protect their natural environment.

Food and Water

Make sure your pet has plenty of food and water.  It gets dry in the sky so on airplanes, they need extra water.  Many airports have animal relief stations now, which are basically little patches of grass so they can use the bathroom too.

Pet ID

Get your pets fresh identification in case they get separated. DO you have a new number or a local number of where you are going; it’ll help to have those on the tags.

Pet carrier

Make sure your pet will be comfy on the trip. Has your pet grown since your last trip? If so, they may be too big to fit in their old carrier.

Contact Airline

Every major airline has different rules and regulations regarding pet travel, so make sure you cross your t’s and Dot your i’s.

Check in and Book Early

Check in and book your flights early to save yourself a last minute headache. When checking in, make sure you let the airline that you have a pet, often they will let you board early and that is a great advantage.

Toys and Treats

Pack your pet’s favorite toys and treats so they are occupied. Nobody wants a bored puppy acting up on a long flight.

Pet Drugs

Many people tend to drug up their animal for a flight, while this may work for some, I prefer not to dope up my doggies. Also, it’s good practice to test out the sedatives before your trip so if your animal has any adverse affects they won’t happen 10,000 feet above the earth.

 

Hopefully this guide helps you travel with your furry friends and alleviates some of your concerns.

 

Photos Courtesy of HealthyPets, PetZiti, superCoolPets

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