In the age of social media, it often feels like we are traveling just by scrolling through our Instagram feeds but, in the age of being constantly “plugged in,” the physical act of traveling is more important than ever.
The need to unplug applies to everyone, especially CEOs. Despite massive day-to-day responsibilities and pressures, the benefits of travel will ultimately empower and reenergize these senior leaders and aside from unplugging from technology, travel provides an education that you can only receive from actually seeing and experiencing different cultures.
For me personally, travel has been a huge contributor to my success. While I could list 100 reasons why, I’ve narrowed it down to the three biggest reasons why I have and continue to travel:
Traveling gives me an escape from my usually chaotic schedule, in which I’m working all days and all hours of the week. It is hard for me to turn off my devices completely since today’s constantly plugged-in way of life always brings me back to work mode, even if I’m away from the office.
However, once I am able to actually unplug (which sometimes takes me up to three days), it is truly amazing and I find myself escaping into my own little world. I find adventures, I seek adrenaline and I look for ways to be alive. Ultimately, I discover ways to really live that go beyond work. Through these adventures, I’ve avoided burnout and have been more inspired to think creatively and big-picture.
When I travel to certain countries like Thailand or Bali, I see and speak to people who live with very little material possessions but at the same time it’s clear that they have immense joy. I see the love they have for their community, for their families and for nature. It is clear that they find happiness in the small things and are not distracted by things like mobile devices and social media. There is an obvious sense of togetherness, whether it is a community playing soccer together in a field, neighbors working together to repair a house or friends walking miles to get their groceries for the week. Selfishness does not and cannot exist in places like this. It is replaced with community, happiness and joy.
I have found that often, living in the U.S., we often get consumed with material things, myself included. Things we really don’t need. Things that give us nothing but instant gratification. Again, just things. When I travel, I am constantly reminded that less can be more, and what we do have needs to be treasured. Value can be seen in sharing time with another, having a great conversation or simply getting someone else to smile. Traveling can be an invaluable experience if you focus on relationship-building and being in the moment. Traveling grounds me and brings me back to my roots, which has been critical at numerous times throughout my career.
When I travel, I see the urgent need for housing in places around the world. In many nations, the divide between the “rich” and the “poor” is extremely apparent, often even more so than in the U.S, and this divide is definitely apparent here. Often times, in experiencing trips in these countries, I return armed with a new set of knowledge and a different perspective on my work. Through my own experiences as well as through speaking and working with the locals, I have been able to understand how they address housing issues and have brought that back to the U.S., in particular New York City.
Why travel matters: No matter what company you work for, or how senior you are, the benefits of travel extend far beyond industry and rank.