“Don’t listen to what they say, go see.”–Unknown
It’s been said that traveling is similar to a book; if you never travel you only get the chance to read one page. Travel is something I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start young. No matter where I go or how old I am I’ve always heard excuses of why someone can’t travel. Going somewhere new doesn’t mean you need to travel halfway across the world and stay in a luxury suite. It means challenging yourself, taking yourself out of your comfort zone and seeing the world in a new way and hopefully learning something from the experience.
Everyone travels for different reasons, but here are my favorites that I think everyone could benefit from.
It Broadens Your Horizons
Immersing yourself with an open mind in a different culture or experience than what you are used to will change you even if only minutely. There are so many different ways to live life, experience an event, or even the way different people see an image. Taking the time to see the world a new way can open up so many possibilities and experiences that are irreplaceable.
It Battles Prejudice and Stereotypes
Are all Americans loud and stupid and only dress in tennis shoes and baseball caps? Are all French citizens snobby and food-obsessed? Does everyone in Africa live in poverty? The answer is of course NOT. Traveling opens up the mind to battle these prejudices and see that the people you may have objectified or scoffed at are still human just like you and deserve respect and at the very least another chance to show you that living differently than you doesn’t mean living less well.
Travel Breathes Life Into Local History
Ever visit a friend in a different city and notice how excited they were to share their local sites with you? Everyone feels that way. Seeing history, such as the Sistine Chapel, Pompeii, or Petra, firsthand is an entirely different and awe-inspiring than seeing it in a book or VR headset.
You Can Disconnect
Whenever I travel, I always have my phone with me, but I barely use it. I try to travel “off the grid” and not worry about emails, texts, or social media. Man oh man is it freeing. You notice every detail you might otherwise miss and free yourself from any stress or responsibility other than to yourself.
It Inspires You
That feeling you get when you come back from a new place and want to share every detail with everyone you know? There are very few things in life besides traveling that do that to someone. Seeing the world inspires me to try to make it a more welcoming and overall better place to live. It also inspires me to see and experience more.
It Tests Your Character
Traveling is a quick test to find out if you really are good in high-stress situations or can juggle multiple tasks at once. You’ll quickly find out if you’re cool under pressure or if you actually hate the great outdoors or the beach. It tests your communication skills, ability to learn, and shows how you treat those you’ve just met and those you’ve known forever.
Value the Little Things
Take the time to make kind gestures to everyone. I’ve been to places where waiters are treated like scum, and I make it a point always to be kind. Notice the things around you that others might miss and strive to make a positive change. It starts with one person, but that one person can make a difference.
It Made Me a Better Person
Regardless of the disasters and the incredible moments, travel has had a significant impact on my life, the way I see others, and how I act. I am more courteous, understanding, and patient and less selfish (I at least make much more of a conscious effort to be these things). I feel like I can handle anything that comes my way because I’ve faced it in many different countries. Travel has taught me that I can be anything and that while I am doing that I can be the type of person, others want in their lives.
What has travel taught you and what are the most important lessons you have learned?