Trafalgar’s CEO, Gavin Tollman, takes time out of his schedule to share his thoughts on the state of the industry. This month, he talks to us about how travel shapes us.
Five weeks, across five continents awaits me. For some, a sense of fear may arise, but something within me turns that fear of the frenetic into the excitement of the opportunity.
To some it may sound cliché to talk about how travel shapes us, how it changes our lives, but it will make a positive impact on the lives of the people in the destinations we visit – in the rural businesses we engage with on our holidays, transformative travel changes us, the travellers, in all manner of positive ways.
To this day I vividly recall when I went to my first live concert – Pink Floyd. Growing up in South Africa, this was a band name written on an album, heard on the radio. These voices had no presence beyond the airwaves. Suddenly I became part of a tribe, united by a love for music that we all knew by intimately, regardless of where we had come from geographically, economically, socially or culturally. Led by a group of incredible, iconic musicians, we all sang our hearts out, together, and then we all went our separate ways.
With each new experience I recognised the world was far greater than I ever envisaged, how other people lived their lives, and yet somehow, we were all connected. Importantly, travel taught me early on to see, feel and learn from other places, other people, but to not judge, and to not compare.
Here’s how travel creates similar opportunities:
BROADEN YOUR PERSPECTIVE
My first reflection was that travel richly and irreversibly broadens your perspective of the world and your place in it. Several years ago I visited Burma and met with children from a monastic school.
On the surface, we seemingly had little in common, but their unconditional welcome and kindness of smiles connected us. Imagine my surprise to find some of the boys with bags embellished with the great Chelsea FC, donated by another kind travelling soul. A moment that has turned into a memory forever etched in my mind.
DISCOVER WHO WE ARE
The second finding that emanated from my own inner research was that through travel we have the opportunity to discover more about who we are simply by stepping outside of our comfort zone.
I’ve realised that those who don’t step outside of their comfort zone, those who choose to play safe and stay caught in the same place, lose the opportunity that will remain forever unknown. I’m reminded of the assault on the senses that is a visit to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. And how truly fabulous that was.
The fun, the interaction and the negotiating of the bazaar experience – like nowhere else. The simplest of experiences often give the greatest of pleasures.
Something I feel we are all leaning towards, that of experiences being more precious than material possessions. As is often said, “Travel is the only thing that you pay for that leaves you feeling richer.”
Through travel, I have come to understand memories are far more precious in life than anything material we may purchase. From the sounds of being woken by elephants in the bush in Africa to the first glimpse of glowing oranges at sunrise or sunset, the opportunity to immerse in such beauty is a truly priceless gift.
I have discovered what makes me truly happy are the moments that make me feel most alive, it is where I find the people and places that bring out the best in me. Seeing the hardships of life for others and yet how some people are so utterly grateful for such simple things that bring their life meaning.
There is no greater reward than the exchange of smiles with someone with whom you have no other form of communication and seeing how travel positively affects the economy and the lives of those there.
DISCOVER, EXPLORE & EXCITE
Finally, especially for those of us for whom travel is a daily part of our business lives, I encourage you to reset the inner compass of your travelling mind and heart. Develop a desire to explore – that deep down excitement, need, love to keep discovering. This is one of the healthiest addictions a human can possess, one that directly, dramatically, invaluably make us stronger, healthier, happier.
Wishing you all a life of wander-must. Carpe diem. Remember always to be joyous and thankful and enjoy the journey as you continue to travel to transform your life.
- READ: Travellers, it’s time to put social media on pause
- READ: Trafalgar dedicates a full programme to Africa
- READ: 3 sustainable ways to tackle over tourism
What opportunities do you think travel creates?
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