15 Mar, 2016

Looking From The Outside In: How Traveling Changed My Life

15 Mar, 2016

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Years after my first trip I was reading through some of the notes I made whilst on that first long backpacking trip all on my own.


“I feel like traveling lets us find the way to our true selves. We are able to see ourselves and our lives from an objective point of view. As if looking from the outside in.

The people in our lives that we love, the ones that love us back for who we are, are an immensly important instance in our lives. But still, around those people we are also that person. We fall into a certain role. It is the role of a person we have become over the years- with certain character traits and features everyone knows and loves (or hates). We are shaped by the experiences we make and by the people around us.

In my opinion this is, on the one hand, a wonderful thing. It is important to have those people in our lives that know and love us the way we are. Otherwise we might just be wandering souls, not having anything in our lives to keep us grounded.

But from time to time we have to tear ourselves out of this environment to be able to see ourselves in a different light. Re-evaluate who we are. Character traits, personal skills and capabilities, that might cease to come to the surface in our familiar environment, suddenly appear seemingly from out of nowhere while traveling.


We start seeing the world with a fresh pair of eyes.


We suddenly see how we are able to deal with the unkown and thus how tough we actually are. We might be surprised by how we reflect on other people that haven’t known us for large portions of our lives. We recognize skills and attributes we never knew we had.

We are able to see our lives and our relationships in a new light. We see that there are people we might not have been appreciating enough or things that need to be changed. We become more clear on feelings we have toward certain people, jobs or hobbies..

We learn a little bit more about ourselves when faced with new challenges that occure while traveling. Being alone, (feeling) lost, having money troubles, language barriers, problems getting in contact with new people..


Me on my first backpacking trip, here in Portugal.

Me on my first backpacking trip, here in Portugal.


We might find that we are much more resilient than we thought or we run into difficulties that show us our weaknesses, that we can on the other hand then work on.

We begin to reflect our current situation. Do I actually like my job? Could I be doing something that suits me better? What do I actually want in life and what are my wishes and dreams?


The result being:

We can then either be encouraged to keep going the way we have been and be happy in knowing that we’re on the right path. Or we come to the conclusion that we need change in our lives, because we aren’t happy with how things have been going or feel that we ourselves need to change.”


Watching the sunset in Tavira, Portugal during that first trip.

Watching the sunset in Tavira, Portugal during that first trip.


For me, traveling turned my life completely inside out. During said backpacking trip I realized so many things. I knew right away that something was changing in myself, my mindset, my outlook on life.


I have always been a person that knew that our time on this earth needs to be cherished- but I was never sure what that actually meant for me and my life until I started traveling.


After my first backpacking trip I knew that my love was traveling itself. It was the world out there that took my breath away. And no person or material thing could ever substitute that feeling.

And that hasn’t changed. I realized during that trip that the relationship I had been in for years couldn’t make me happy anymore. That I had been afraid of changing anything in my life out of fear of doing the wrong thing instead of just listening to my gut.

Then, after my second long trip, I realized that leading a “normal” life with a 9 to 5 job was also never going to be in my future. I just loved discovering new places and new cultures too much. That is when I started trying to figure out how to be able to work while traveling, being location-independent as a digital nomad, a state I am getting closer and closer to every day.


One of my first long busrides through the south of Spain.

One of my first long busrides through the south of Spain.


I now know that, yes, traveling is my greatest love, but the courage and happiness and everything else we need in our lives is all in ourselves and cannot be bought or sought after.


Either way:

Take a step away from life every once in a while and take a little breather. Imagine you are the third-person narrator of your own life story. Or just think of yourself hovering above your own life and think about what you see from up there. I’m sure it will help you find your way (back) to your true self. 😉




  • chau March 17, 2016

    I love this! I felt the same way about traveling last year when I left for my first solo backpacking trip. A friend I met said it best, “When you travel, you get to become exactly the person you want to be”. I think I have a better idea of that person now because of it. Great article:)


    • Denise March 18, 2016

      Thanks Chau, very good and true saying, that sums it up really well! (Really nice blog, by the way 😉 )


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