Having settled back in at home after my three-month stay in China routine struck so forcibly. I was working on a publication of a research project and could do that anywhere — at my desk at home or on a beach in Thailand — since all I needed was electricity and WiFi. At that time, I had never been to a beach in Thailand, but I reckoned they provide both if you only spread out your towel close enough to a beach bar.
However, I didn't feel like beach at all but visited some Balkan countries on my bike trip to Istanbul and knew that I can live there affordably, whilst at the same time evading an expensive ten-hour flight plus jet lag. So I spent the following six weeks in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro.
It’s the unpredictability of foreign places that make me learn a lot more than back home in my comfort zone. Living on the road means constant shifts in rhythm and thinking and societal expectations and pretty much every other aspect of life. Visiting new and different places, and hence dealing with problems I don’t usually have to deal with, is one of the best ways to broaden my perspectives. The experiences may be mind-blowing or miserable, but that doesn't matter. The point is that I'm doing it, and that I'm pushing myself past the mental blocks that tell me to do nothing.
Taking alternate routes and breaking my routine is about expanding my reality into something larger and will cause me to pause sometimes. I think we are constantly ruminating about the past and the future in a way that keeps us from really connecting with the present moment. Though, there are moments in life that are characterised by us no longer having a reason to think about the past or the future. These peak experiences are experiences of fully merging in the present. It's travel that simply makes them occur more frequently.