When it comes to choosing a holiday destination, many factors are at play – the weather, the resorts, the cost, the landmarks etc. All of these blend together for a while and battle each other Top Trumps style in your head until eventually you find a winner and thunderbirds are go!
Take a brief moment to rank your holiday priorities. Now, if we’re to guess that relaxing, unwinding and comfort immediately sprang to your mind would we be wrong?
Isn’t it strange then that many of us disregard the idea of putting learning, exploration (both of yourself and the world around you) and self-improvement at the top of what we want out of a trip? Especially with the avalanche of self-help books on our Kindles!
Travelling to different parts of the world is often the best education you’ll ever have and this is where a trip to the foot of the Himalayas in India and Nepal comes in. Here’s Five Life Lessons You’ll Learn in a very short space of time…
You’ll Become A Master Of Clarity in Chaos
Touch down in New Delhi or Mumbai and trust me, it’ll redefine what you think chaos looks like. In New Delhi especially, the streets are full, the rules of the road simply do not exist (traffic lights? What are they?!) and you’re engulfed in a world of colour, culture and a cacophony of noise made from nearly 10 million residents!
At first, it’s pretty overwhelming with local vendors vying for your attention (and cash) while you’re busy playing dodgeball with the mopeds that whizz by (getting run over is not great for your final score).
Being completely honest, New Delhi is a bit dog-eat-dog in places but that’s a good thing! It’s more frantic than dangerous but you will need to have your wits about you. New experiences are what you’re here for so stand tall, haggle with merchants for a better price, take control and be assertive. If you don’t want what someone is offering you, simply smile, decline and move on. No feelings hurt, no ill will offered.
What’s left is a new appreciation for your ability to be independent, decisive and calm in the face of chaotic environments – whether a street in New Delhi or a heated meeting in an office block.
You’ll Soon Realise That ‘Travelling Solo’ Is a Myth
So you’ve landed in Delhi, found yourself a hostel or a hotel highly recommended online by your trusty agent (ahem) and on the face of it, you’re alone. Except being ‘alone’ on a planet of eight billion, in a country of one billion, means you’re never alone. I mean, not really…
Even if you spend two weeks travelling through India and Nepal with your travel buddy, or a host of friends you’ll soon be surrounded with like-minded international travellers who share an ‘all in this together’ philosophy on their journey. Sharing a packed night train to Pushkar with a South African, Australian, American & an Italian couple who are each giving you the ‘WTF’ looks from seeing people vaulting onto a moving train is both bizarrely hilarious and genuinely unifying. India and Nepal are so far removed from the Western World that when people from similar cultures experience it together, it creates a bond both strong and enduring.
Life-Long Friendships Can Be Made in Hours, Not Years
With this in mind, embracing two weeks through the sub-continent and being wholly open to meeting new people will reward you with friends for life. And because we’re now more connected than ever, a dip in the River Ganges with a couple of Aussies doesn’t have to be an isolated memory in your life but a trans-continental friendship for years!
India is a challenging country both to navigate around and to keep yourself secure, because of this, hostels are brimming with people who want to connect with other travellers, share stories and go on spontaneous adventures with. In our experience, it’s one of the most organic ways in the world to make some best friends!
Those Who Have Less, Often Give Much More
This is a genuine paradox that exists in places like India & Nepal. We’re still trying to fully process it. It sounds bizarre that someone struggling to feed their family would offer you, a stranger, a meal but this is the type of behaviour displayed by many who live here.
India is a very, very religious place but even if that’s not your thing, the practical benefits of this stem from the strong beliefs of doing right by your fellow man, even if it means sacrificing your own comforts.
Kindness truly abounds in this part of the world, particularly in more isolated areas outside the cities like Varanasi, on the bank of the River Ganges. The people here live simple lives based on kindness and respect. It teaches you a hell of a lot about getting the most out of life. Of course, these are just words, experiencing it for yourself is the only way to see a tangible difference in you when you come home.
You’ll Be Less Wasteful When You Come Home
Indian cities like New Delhi and Mumbai provide a stark reminder of just how much we consume (and waste) as a species. 4.7 million tonnes of garbage is produced daily in India, but without sufficient waste management infrastructure, a lot of this doesn’t disappear from view.
We’ll be honest, seeing these colossal, open-air landfills will be filling you with dread and regret rather than awe but that’s partly the point. This had a lasting effect on us, and on our volunteers and Indian holidaymakers as it fundamentally changes how you consume when you come home. This can only be a good thing for the planet and seeing how parts of India are literally drowning in garbage will make sure a recycling and sustainable way of living is one you’ll adopt without any hesitation!
Travelling to India & Nepal Won’t Change You, It’ll Evolve You
It’s not a modern trend that people have sought life affirmance in India, The Beatles were struggling to write a new album, went to India and came back with St.Peppers! Steve Jobs went to India a college drop out and came back to the US with a new perspective on how he could change the world.
We don’t like the term that people ‘change’ when they go travelling as to change doesn’t imply a positive or negative result. We much prefer to say that people ‘evolve’ when they travel and evolution accelerates through India and Nepal.
If we were to pick out three parts of you that’ll evolve most when you spend a holiday in India they’d be – perspective, patience, and gratitude. Perspective at how your daily struggles are feeble compared with others, patience that sometimes the journey is the destination and gratitude for all the opportunities you’ve been given that others haven’t been as lucky to receive. An experience in India isn’t some sort of guilt trip but the perspective it gives you will make a notable difference in you when you come home.
Think about visiting this incredible country? USIT have been running tours, packages and volunteer programmes to India for years. Head here to find out more or drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org / (01) 602 1906.