The essential sound of silence

January 17, 2013

Personal Growth, Travel

Silence can be a blissful or terrifying thing, depending on who you’re talking to. Some crave it and need at least a moment of it in every day. Others need to be surrounded by noise and activity constantly.

But silence – at least a few minutes of it – becomes an absolute necessity when you’re traveling, especially when you’re roaming the world with friends, on a large tour group or are on a long-term trip.

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While traveling with friends can be delightful and enriching for your friendships, it can also put a tremendous strain on the relationship. No matter how well you know one another before you set out, traveling brings out a host of issues you’ll need to deal with under stressful circumstances. Preferences conflict, everyone has their own insecurities that arise and let’s be honest, even your best friends do things that annoy you.

Carving out time each day for some silence and alone time can prove essential to maintaining your sanity when traveling. Even if that means sitting by yourself in a train station for five minutes before starting the next leg of your journey, going for a walk, or just making a run to the grocery store alone, having private time to check in with yourself and your emotions will keep you from feeling overwhelmed or acting out.

Journaling is a great way to not only record your memories and feelings about your travels, but also to vent your frustrations or grapple with difficult emotions triggered during the trip. Especially when traveling extensively, there is no way to avoid bad days or infuriating situations. Sometimes that comes from frustrating interactions in a foreign country, or from receiving bad news from home.

Whatever it is, it’s usually exacerbated when you’re outside your comfort zone and struggling to center yourself. Journaling gives you the freedom to express your feelings and thoughts without consequence or judgement and clear your mind to form a plan of action.

After dealing with a stressful circumstance or finding yourself in conflict with a travel partner, silence truly can be golden. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I have read is that all emotions, however strong they may be in a certain moment, will eventually subside and give way to fresh thoughts and feelings. Giving yourself the time and space to allow that ebb to happen is vital. Removing distractions and the noise helps that process along.

Travel is a noisy, colorful, chaotic, and often communal experience, and all of those characteristics are what make travel worthwhile. The fun, the excitement, even the insane and unbelievable, make for lasting memories. If you don’t make time to reflect and check in with yourself, however, you put yourself at risk for burnout and slowly but surely allowing your experience to be tainted by stress or the hectic pace of moving from place to place, sightseeing and trying to take in as much as possible.

So remember to breathe and always, no matter how where you are, make time for silence and reflection in your day.

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