People talk a lot about travel being ‘life changing’, but what does that actually mean? We’ve pulled together a list of six travel experiences that really will change the way you live your life, altering your perspective on the world.

Whale watching

The first time I ever saw a whale in real life, I felt humbled in a way that I had never felt before. There’s something about being stood on a small boat in the middle of the ocean, watching nature’s giants up close and personal that makes you think about how small you are in the grand scheme of things. There’s also a great trust shared as the whales approach your boat. These animals were hunted almost to the point of extinction not too long ago, yet they are still gentle creatures that have learned to trust humans again. It’s also a welcome reminder that if we ever want to observe animals it should always be in the wild, in their natural habitat, watching from a distance.

Six travel experiences that will change your life - The Wise Traveller - Whale Watching

Travelling solo

Travelling on your own will teach you things that you would never learn if you only travelled with companions. Solo travel can be scary and unpredictable, but you will learn an unrivalled independence that will change the way that you live your life. You have to be responsible for yourself and all aspects of your trip, constantly making decisions on your own and adapting to new places without the comfort of a friend or partner by your side. In difficult circumstances you learn to think on your feet and look after yourself. Everyone should travel on their own at some point in their life, if only to gain a deeper understanding of who they are.

Taking a road trip

You may prefer meticulously planned getaways or package holidays where you spend two weeks relaxing on a beach, but taking a road trip will completely change you as a person. You have to learn to be more flexible and more resilient, dealing with anything from breakdowns to unexpected detours. Taking a road trip is a good way to encourage your own independence, even if you travel with a companion.

Watching the Northern Lights

Similar to an experience such as whale watching, witnessing a natural wonder such as the Northern Lights really changes you as a person. Watching something ethereal that we have no control over puts everything in perspective and alerts you to the brilliance of nature. After witnessing the Northern Lights, you will come away with a greater respect of the natural world.

Travelling with strangers

Whether you go on a trek, an organised tour or a culinary experience, travelling with a group of strangers is a great way to become more confident. You will have to speak to and make friends with complete strangers – some of whom may be from different countries and speak different languages. You will also have to become more independent. Similar to travelling on your own, you will have to take responsibilities for yourself and make a lot of big decisions while also getting to grips with meeting different people from all around the world.

Six travel experiences that will change your life - The Wise Traveller - Walking

Visit a spiritual place

Visiting a spiritual place can mean different things to different people. It could be taken literally – visiting a holy city or temple that makes you ask questions about yourself and human existence. It could be walking a pilgrimage, such as Spain’s El Camino de Santiago, which challenges you physically as well as mentally. Or it could mean travelling to a place of natural wonder that makes you ponder thoughts about our connection to nature.

Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.