You’re meant to go to an ashram or a lengthy meditation retreat to gain resonating inner insight. But, currently in-flight to Amsterdam after a month exploring Timor Leste and Bali, I sense that kind of subtle and profound change, simply due to travel.

I saw so much: Portuguese forts, Hindu temples, a carpet of cloud as the sun rose from our view at the top of a mountain, an amphitheater of rice paddies, paradise islands, empty beaches, dusty cities, spirit houses. Much more. Many sights were spectacular to the eye, or whispered a fascinating story, or were impressive in some other way, and gave light to a deeper – if still very shallow – understanding of local culture. 

I travelled with friends I’ve known more than half my life. We have a daily group email chain that traces back 17 years, in which forum we’ve supported each other through bad dates, new jobs, marriages, divorces, pregnancies and kids, horrible bosses, hangovers, to offer a brief selection. It’s pretty amazing and, due to the frank nature of our correspondence, means we always have some understanding of what’s going down. But, as Sam pointed out while we splashed in the pool on Friday before sunset beachside Bintangs, “nothing beats face time”.

There were many awesome interactions with randoms. The group of kids who followed Dan and I around while we wandered the south coast waiting for a tow truck to make the 14-hour journey from Dili. Our driver in Bali, Tude, who was helpful, patient, informative and a total dude. The random Italian who hitched with Dan and I for a couple of days in the remote east of Timor Leste. Senhor Agosto, the spritely elderly farmer who showed us his paddocks near Maliana. The chatty local I surfed with at Old Man’s this morning. These countless connections – even the split-second ones – will stay with me.

All these interactions and experiences have given direct rise to my own learning and inner change. Everything I have taken in through the five senses forms a canvas – a backdrop for shifts in perspective and insights. I’m not unique in returning from a destination knowing it was all about the journey. 

The challenge is to let the change occur, and it’s one I’m happy to take on. Because it’s this deeper, inner shift which – if we allow it – makes travel so potently, deliciously transformative.