What are you hoping to get from your next holiday? The practicalities of where, for how long and what to do when you’re there can be planned in the finest detail and tailored to meet your specific requirements. But there are also recognized benefits that come from travel which you will get, to some degree, wherever you go. These are “returns” that you get from travel, benefits that come to you through that investment. They revolve around enriching yourself through travel’s restorative qualities and nowhere are they more true, or rewarding, than Asia – There is a reason that 5 of the top 10 cities in the world to travel to, according to Mastercard’s Global Cities Index, are now in the Asia-Pacific region.
We have come a long way since the family doctor might have prescribed a break in the country for its recuperative powers. The options for where to take that break, and what to do when you get there, have never been more diverse. There is literally something for everyone. So while you ponder between snorkeling and white water rafting, or painting watercolors and a cooking course, here are ten of those guaranteed returns that are available from any trip to Asia.
19th Century doctors understood the benefits of a break, if not the science behind it. Today we value vacations as a way to create space between us and our regular lives. Their ability to reduce our stress levels was confirmed by the American Psychological Association in a survey… not that we needed a survey to tell us that. It’s tough to think about whether or not you paid the utility bill, or worry over whether Junior will get his grades, when you find yourself immersed on the holiday of a lifetime in Asia.
2: Finding You
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” So said the philosopher Marcel Proust.
Traveling to Asia has long been a well-worn path for those wanting to “find themselves,” that is not exactly what we are talking about here though, nor is it what Mr Proust was referring to. The sort of self-discovery that is available to everyone, even on the shortest of trips, is the one that comes through adapting to a new environment and appreciating other ways of doing and seeing things. Asia, in that regard, is a wonderful assault on the senses with a breath-taking array of experiences and flavors. A heady mix of the vaguely familiar and the completely alien. It is impossible to come away without a new perspective.
3: Making New Friends
Of course, it does not have to be all about you. The best holidays feature new friendships. Flung together by having ended up in the same place at the same time, often doing the same thing, you will meet people in Asia from all corners of the world. The surroundings, along with the unusual amount of time available to bond with new people, can result in truly meaningful relationships being forged. It is hard to imagine a more convivial way to meet a like-minded person. With modern technology making it easier than ever to stay in touch these friendships, more than at any time before, can last a lifetime.
4: It’s Character Building
Traveling, especially alone, to Asia is an experience that will force you out of your normal mind-set. The opportunity to be a more courageous and engaging version of yourself is impossible to resist. The sights sounds and smells, trying new things and eating new food… everything you do is an experience. Simply talking to people, locals and other tourists, will enhance your world view… and remind you of the generosity of strangers.
5: The Finest Dining
Anywhere you go in Asia you will find a rich cuisine, rooted in the ancient culture of the local people. By comparison Western cuisine is in its infancy with many of the key ingredients we take for granted only arriving relatively recently. So while French, Italian and Spanish chefs have been mastering their craft for the last few centuries, their Asian counterparts have been developing theirs for far, far longer. The result is a panoply of distinct but equally wonderful discoveries to be made wherever you arrive.
6: Live In The Moment
There is nothing like a holiday for shifting your attention toward living in the moment. It is better understood than ever before just how little we actually take in from our surroundings, the brain literally paints in a great deal of the experience when you are in familiar situations. Replace those surroundings with something new and you are immediately forced to recalibrate. Replace those familiar surroundings with the heady mix on offer in Asia and your brain will literally light up. A workout that leaves a lasting positive legacy.
7: New Experiences
Holidays are a great chance to indulge your fantasies. For some that will mean simply searching out new tastes, where Asia offers an unrivaled opportunity… stay as long as you like and you need never eat the same meal twice. But for the more adventurous heading to Asia anything is possible. The highest mountains in the world, the fastest white water, the best diving, jungle safaris… an endless list of possibilities await. Any visit to Asia also includes, as a free bonus, contact with the local people. Whatever you plan ahead of your visit the memories of your trip will be infused with their hospitality and warmth.
8: Improve Your Creativity
Adam Galinsky, Columbia Business School professor, has conducted a number of studies looking at the well-defined links between international travel and creativity. He says “The key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion and adaptation.” His work confirms that travel really does expand the mind, all the more so if you engage with local culture.
9: Be Happier
Seems obvious doesn’t it? You are bound to be happier on holiday right? Well of course, but a study from Cornell University showed that just planning a vacation can result in an increase in happiness, also that the anticipation of the holiday is far more profound than the anticipation of acquiring a new possession. Travel is a uniquely fulfilling experience in so many subtle ways that can easily go unrecognized. Travel to Asia and you will be confronted by endless rich experiences that will defy you to forget them.
10: Have No Regrets
Mark Twain said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did.” Let that sink in for a moment and you will know he was right. Asia is huge and diverse, leave finding it too late and you will stand no chance of ever seeing enough of it to avoid a regret or two.