Does travelling really change you?

I often hear people say how much a trip has changed them. How somehow they return from a foreign place as a different person. I think we learn and absorb as much as we can when traveling, but change? That’s a big word.

Having recently returned from a trip to Southern Africa, I’m still amazed at what I saw and learned. Traveling is an experience unlike any other. Immersing ourselves in an unknown culture, language or even landscape can offer such wonderful and eye opening experiences. These experiences are so important to hold on to and will help us grow and learn, but change the person we are? I’m not so sure.

Spending two weeks in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe barely wanting to blink, I learned about the animals, landscape, culture and language. I heard first-hand what life was like living in South Africa before and after Apartheid and how much the country has changed since 1994. From the people we met and the places we visited in Cape Town, you get the impression that most are living happily ever after and that conflict between black and white communities has been resolved. Yet Cape Town continues to hold one of the highest crime rates in the world and incidents like the innocent woman who was murdered while on her honeymoon in Cape Town last week continue to happen. Equality throughout the country is progressing, but that feat will require much more than the 14 years it’s had so far.

Everything I took in while on this trip will help shape my views of the countries we visited and the culture I experienced, but I am still me.

A few fun facts I learned on the trip…

Did you know….?

  • That there’s a bird similar to a chicken called a Franklin who will commit suicide if he realizes he’s been fenced in or domesticated?
  • Elephants eat over 300lb of vegetation per day, but they only digest 40% of that…
  • That the tiny little Mongooses are carnivores? They catch their prey (the Franklin!) by lying on their backs so they are unseen and sticking out their manhood so it looks like a worm…then WHAM!

In the end, whether traveling 2 hours by car outside the city, or 18 hours by plane across the world, our travel experiences always offer an opportunity to learn something new. What I walk away from travelling with is cherished knowledge and experiences, a better me, but still me.

A few photos from the trip…

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