It's the old cliche. What effect does travel really have on us?
The question really ought to be 'What effects', there being more than just one to be singled out, and 'me' or 'you', because everyone experiences something personal.
Overwhelmingly though, I've noticed one thing since I decided to break with routine and change my life with a year on the road. Everything I've done this last year, I've had cause to reflect on and analyse. Admittedly, writing this blog has been a huge part of that, but it goes a little bit deeper.
It's like travelling provides a gigantic imaginary magnifying glass.
You're more alert, more sensitive, aware of the people around you – the goodies and the baddies. Gratefulness is something felt – and acknowledged – on a daily basis, from a simple 'Thank god I actually got to eat what I thought I ordered', to, 'Wow, did that family really just invite me into their home out of pure kindness?'
And that's just three examples out of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of incredible acts of kindness shown towards me.
What I'm hoping is that this heightened sense of gratitude translates back into everything I choose to do in the future. Perhaps the other side is clearer to me now too: hell yes I'll pick up the first hitchhiker I see in Australia, and why wouldn't I strike up a conversation with a couple of Metro-bound backpackers in Melbourne. Both things that I really wouldn't have considered before.
Basically, I've got a lot of karma to catch up on.
[Featured photo credit: puuikibeach, Flickr.]