A new book reveals the life-changing benefits of personal travel
No one who loves to travel will be surprised by Tom Lijstra’s belief that travel changes us for the better. But few of us have taken the time to analyze this transformation. In The Transformative Power of Travel: How to Discover Yourself Through Exploring the World, Tom shares how travel changes us, teaching us to be more patient, more tolerant, and more open to new ideas, perspectives, and differences. Sometimes travel and the experiences it brings can be a little uncomfortable, but in these situations, we are more likely to go through a transformation.
The Transformational Power of Travel contains all the essential advice you need about traveling, but in addition to basic things like getting passports and remembering to fill up on toothpaste, the book explores how to go about setting goals for your travels—goals that aren’t just about sight seeing, but perhaps about learning more. About the special person you’re traveling with, or just learning how to relax and have fun, learning to appreciate history or art, and most importantly, learning about other cultures and realizing that at the end of the day people are basically the same.
Tom begins by asking us to take off our clothes – not literally but figuratively. It’s time for us to be ready to clothe ourselves in new experiences. Traveling makes you feel vulnerable and vulnerable, but Tom reminds us that it is during those fragile times, when we can grow the most. “When you take off all your clothes, you have nowhere to hide that vulnerable true self.” Then you can start transforming that self into a better version of you.
Of course, the world is full of places to travel. Tom is a true world traveler who has visited forty-three countries. In this book, he focuses on three amazing and diverse countries that helped change him: France, India, and Cuba.
France is the trip he took with his girlfriend, a trip that solidified their relationship and eventually led to their marriage. Yes, they visited the Eiffel Tower and all the other romantic sights in Paris, but they also spent time getting to know each other in a beautiful romantic setting so they could determine their compatibility.
In India, Tom learned some amazing things about himself and how he reacts to discomfort and feeling out of control in an alien environment. He also had some really great ideas. This is his comment about visiting the Taj Mahal:
“Being there creates a surreal sense of oneness with the people who designed the site, even though they lived miles and miles away on a different continent than I do centuries ago. Being there made me feel connected to these people in some way. It’s a feeling that is hard to put into words, but it made me I feel very small and humble.”
Throughout the book, Tom sprinkles in professional advice and reflections on his experiences. It also teaches us to think for ourselves. For example, when he arrived in Cuba, he met someone who had just arrived from Mexico City. He says, “I’d heard terrible, scary things about Mexico City, but she explored the city on her own and seemed to feel no fear at all. I found that incredible. I thought I was weak because I hadn’t been to Mexico City yet. It once again taught me a great lesson.” “Don’t believe everything you hear in the media. Make it real! Do your own research and ask travelers who have been there.”
This statement reveals a major advantage of travel – it destroys false prejudices and preconceived notions. “I’ve come to believe that travel is the best and quickest way to break our assumptions or prejudices about people, places, and cultures,” says Tom.
Tom also covers what to do when things go wrong. Bottom line: stay calm. He says, “While at first such events may seem like they are happening to us, we can learn over time that these events are happening to us. There are lessons for growth that we can draw from these events and their consequences.”
The book concludes with appendices that provide additional resources and explore how to deal with ambiguity and other issues as you travel.
If you want to experience Cuba, India, France or any country, this is a great book to start with. If you love to travel, you will definitely love reading about Tom’s experiences. If you’re worried about travel, become an armchair traveler by starting with this book; You may just find that it makes you brave and ready for adventure.