Actor/Travel writer Andrew McCarthy
Actor/Travel writer Andrew McCarthy

I spent many of my school-aged years swooning over actor Andrew McCarthy for his dreamy role of Blane McDonnagh in the 1986 blockbuster movie and teenage rite of passage Pretty in Pink. These days, my swooning is more in the form of admiration as the actor-turned- travel writer finds another kind of success through his global explorations.

I listened to McCarthy speak over the weekend about his life, his travel writing and his personal transformation as result of travel. His lessons are poignant and I have selected some of my favorites to share:

1. There’s one trip for everyone that fundamentally changes them.

2. The transformative power of travel is very personal. McCarthy says the multitude of “a-ha” moments experienced during travel provide an enormous energy in which you feel greater than yourself and feel at home with yourself.

3. Life leads you certain ways and you follow. McCarthy never imagined he would be a travel writer. As the author of a new book, The Longest Way Home, and a regular contributor to National Geographic Traveler magazine, McCarthy followed an unlikely path that led him to his true calling.

Andrew McCarthy's book: The Longest Way Home
Andrew McCarthy’s book: The Longest Way Home

4. Travel obliterates fear. McCarthy says most people are unnecessarily fearful of unfamiliar places. We don’t recognize fear as fear–but instead use it to justify other reasons for not traveling. McCarthy believes that only through travel can you break down those invalid worries and once you experience the absence of fear it liberates you.

5. How to return to reality. Most people cannot fathom going back to their daily lives after experiencing a travel high. McCarthy asserts that you never fully return. So, while you pack your lunch for work again and pay the bills and return to regular life, there’s always a part of you that remains connected to the moments that captured you. Embrace those moments.

I agree with McCarthy’s lessons. When you travel, you never come back the same person. Instead, your experiences re-shape your perspectives and your view of the world.