When we travel, we change. The experiences and memories of every trip stick with us and alter the courses of our lives. An experience you had in Thailand could shape the career path you follow from that point on. A chance encounter in Spain could see you altering beliefs you thought were set fast. The details are irrelevant; no matter how travel changes you, it always leaves a mark.
The trouble is, this is often a one-way street. Travel experiences might change you, but there’s less chance you leave a lasting impact on the countries you visit. Of course, you could say this about anything in life. Countries and places are always changing and moving. In that respect, you can’t expect them to remember you. But, when you think about it, it’s sad to realise those places which changed you are no different for your being there.
Get too deep into this, and you could end up with an existential crisis on your hands, but the point is simple. Wouldn’t you like to leave more of a lasting mark on the countries which mean the most to you? Wouldn’t you like to make some difference, no matter how small, which shows you were there?
If you’re anything like most travellers, the answer is yes. This then begs the question of how you can achieve this goal. Let’s be realistic, nothing you can do is going to make a massive impact on any country. You aren’t going to become a politician and change the rules, after all. But, you can make a lasting mark in more small, achievable ways. And, we’re going to look at a few of them here.
The most simple but efficient way to leave a lasting impact is to make friends with locals. When it comes down to it, the memories we leave with other people are the most lasting things of all. So, it makes complete sense that you should make your mark this way. If you’re used to travelling without really mingling, it’s time to change that. You’ll find that your experience will be much richer and more rewarding if you actually make an effort to branch out with those who live there. On a selfish level, this can help you get a feel for a country. No one knows the sites worth seeing better than locals. They’ll be able to point you towards lesser known locations and could even take you on a few magical mystery tours. But, as they do that, you can talk about your life and experiences. As they listen, these new friends may also learn a thing or two. And, thus, a mark will be made. You might not be able to impact whole communities this way, but the people we meet change us. And, in some ways, that invites the best personal growth of all. So, get a language dictionary before you go, and risk reaching out. Your travel and your life could be more satisfactory as a result.
Stay for an extended period
Those who stay in their destinations for longer will also inevitably make more impact and memories. It’s difficult to make an impression when you’re on a three-day weekend. In fact, it’s fair to say that would be pretty impossible. But, if you stay for six months or more, you have a much better chance of leaving your mark. If you’ve never stayed in your travel destinations for that long, give it a go. Admittedly, this is a whole different experience, but it’s one most travellers embrace. There’s something satisfying about making a temporary home in a place. Rather than feeling like a visitor, you’ll soon start to feel like one of the locals. And, that’s when your actions can really count. Again, it’s important not to set your expectations too high here. You can’t change a whole country in six months. But, the small things can still ensure your memory lives in that place after you leave. Again, this length of times gives you the chance to develop meaningful friendships. Equally, you’ll have the time to get involved with community initiatives and local businesses. All of which ensures that you make a real difference to this country which means so much to you. Even renting an apartment for an extended period means putting money towards the economy. Far from paying for a week’s stay in a hotel, that could also make a real difference.
Working when travelling is always a rewarding experience. What’s more, it’s a fantastic way to make that mark we keep going on about. If you work, it’s much easier to establish yourself in a country. And, that isn’t as easily forgotten. Of course, the type of work you do does impacts how large a mark you leave. Thousands of gap year students take jobs working in bars and restaurants. So, you may want to think of slightly more unusual options. Bringing a skill to a country, for instance, is sure to have more impact. If you have a degree, why not take up a teaching position? You could make a real mark by educating future generations. You could even volunteer in projects which are working on conservation or building. All these work towards growing and preserving communities, and they won’t forget your efforts in a hurry. If you feel like you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you could even set up businesses in the areas you visit. By building an online presence, there’s no reason you can’t ensure a market wherever you go. Then you could set up in one of the iconic markets in India, or look into hdb shop rental during a stay to Singapore. If you make a name for yourself in enough countries, you could keep this cycle going. You’ll soon make a lasting impression through your reputation and your wares. It could even be that you set up something like a fashion store and introduce new trends across the world. Or, you could develop a new product which has universal appeal. Either way, the ripples from your efforts here are sure to seep into communities and make the best mark you could hope for. Few people get to create legacies like these while they travel around the world.
Visit more than once
Of course, it would be arrogant to assume that you can make a lasting impression with one visit to a place. Even a stay which spans a year or more will soon be forgotten if you never go back. As such, you could argue that the best way to make a mark is to return time and again. As avid travellers, we too often forget to return to the same locations. After all, there’s a whole world to see, and a limited period in which to do it. But, if you want to make a lasting impression and hold on to those memories, returning to the same towns is precisely what you should do. That doesn’t mean you should stop spreading your wings. Moreover, you should also take time out to return to the places you love. After three or four visits, your conversations and actions are sure to make ripples. On a fundamental level, this also involves putting more money into the economy. Before long, the location in question will start to feel like a second home. And, we make more marks on our homes than anywhere else, don’t we? You might not be able to change the world, but you can make ripples as you move around it.