“I spend all of my money on travel…” It’s a common phrase that gets tossed around a lot in traveller circles. “I invest in experiences, not things.”

And while we travellers are nodding our heads, a lot of people don’t agree. We’re constantly battling our parent’s disapproval of our lifestyle or being put on the stand about when we’re going to ‘settle down’… whatever that means, I’m still not sure.

I could go on for days about the list of things to be gained through travel. The thing is, it’s not all black and white. We’re so accustomed as a society to think of gains in the context of the physical, but with travel it’s the opposite.

It’s hard to articulate how these new experiences have changed you for the better, but they have.

See, our brains develop through these foreign experiences. New sights, smells, sounds, tastes, sensations, languages and people spark different synapses in the brain. We increase our cognitive flexibility and depth of thought. We learn how to make deeper connections between disparate forms.

Our brains develop new parts of nerve cells, dendrites. And this is something that changes how we approach every thought and action for the rest of our lives.

Your comfort zone & personal growth. 

By pushing yourself out of that comfort zone, you build a strong, acculturated sense of your own self. Your identity becomes intimately tied with the cultural experiences you’ve had.

The cool thing is, it’s not travel specifically that makes us evolve, but the process of being exposed to the new. Part of this is immersion, engagement and adaptation. It’s about submersing yourself in that new experience, in the deepest, most authentic way… and by pushing yourself out of your ‘social comfort zone.’

A fresh, cultural scene can be just around the corner. You don’t have to get on a plane.

The biggest lesson of the past month 

I’m not going to box my lessons into a numbered list, but there is one stand-out from the past month here in Nicaragua. That is, I can do anything I want with my life.

Of course, I’ve always known this, but we can forget this along the way. I’m surrounded by people all living alternative lives, rebellious society rule breakers – yet they’re all the happiest, most generous people I’ve ever met.

I believe this has got a lot to do with living that truth. We all have one, but how many of us actually live it? For me, freedom. It’s travelling full-time, with no end date. I don’t know where the road will take me but to me, this is the epitome of designing my own life.

I’ve stood only metres away from an active volcano, surfed new breaks in small towns, and started learning Spanish. These moments aren’t just about having fun. They’re new experiences – each lesson, feeling, and moment turned memory – engrained in my mind and my heart, forever.

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