In 2012 I traveled to Athens for two weeks.
Sans wife and children.
It was spring and the annual arts festival was in full swing. I took my sketchbook, my camera and off I went.
In those two weeks I immersed myself in the street art culture of my favourite city, the amazing contemporary art and design scene, the food and music.
I met with a few local designers, soaked up the ancient atmosphere, architecture and spent time with my family who live there.
My wife worked for Lonely Planet for close to 15 years and each time I'd visit their head quarters in Melbourne, I would hear or see the words 'travel changes you'.
These three words ring true to me each time I travel.
That trip to Athens changed me - it focussed my mind, it gave me a certain type of mindfulness and it even focussed my eye for good design more than most other experiences had in my 27 year career. It also anchored me to my heritage and my children, whom I sprinted towards at the arrivals terminal in Melbourne on my return.
I discovered that in Greece, the graphic design scene was alight in the 1950s - 1970s - an era that saw civil war, communist uprising, a dictatorship and a mass exodus to other countries. An exodus I'm quite thankful for as both my parents found their way to Australia because of it.
In 1967, a 28-day trip by ship from Athens to Melbourne changed my father.
In 1969, an unaffordable flight from Athens to Melbourne, changed my mother.
In 2012, a solo flight to Athens from Melbourne, leaving my wife and children behind, changed me.
Recently, a reader of my journal asked me:
"I'm not sure if I should travel or just look for a job now that I've graduated."
At a recent fireside chat with an Australian retail fashion business, I was asked:
"How do you develop the self awareness to make the big decisions that are needed during the entrepreneurial journey?"
Both great questions. Both at either end of the career spectrum. Both eternally linked to one another.
Tonight, I'm jumping on a plane with my three children and my beautiful wife and we're flying on a holiday we started planning and working towards in 2012.
We will discover Rome, we will do life drawing in Florence and we will find our way to the beautiful city of contradictions, Athens and we will then 'go home' to the Greek islands.
(I'm also excited about visiting a number of Crossfit gyms but that's another story.)
We will step sideways for a few weeks, away from the daily routine of waking up, going to work/school and coming home. We will be together and we will find mindfulness in our own selves. Time to think. Time to plan. Time to develop.
And in that step aside from the daily grind, we will be propelled forward ever so smoothly.
Richer for the experience.
The answer to the questions about travel and self awareness?
Travel changes you.