Everyone keeps saying how important it is to travel. So what's all this fuss about?
The benefits of traveling are not just a one-time thing: traveling changes you physically and psychologically. Having little time or money isn't a valid excuse. You can fly for cheap very easily. If you have a full-time job and a family, you can still travel on the weekends or holidays, even with a baby.
Here are some of the main benefits of traveling. And I'm sure that once you get started, you'll find some more yourself!
1. Traveling Improves Your Health
From cutting down on stress, to lowering your chances of developing a heart disease, the health benefits of traveling are huge. You may stay sitting on a chair all day long at the workplace: including some walking to your trip is sure to make your body feel better. For some people, wandering abroad is even a cure for depression and anxiety. Of course, it's not a foolproof cure, but it might help you feel better, both physically and psychologically.
Traveling more is likely to have a tremendous impact on your mental well-being, especially if you're no used to going out of your comfort zone. Trust me: travel more and your doctor will be happy. Be sure to get in touch with your physician, they might recommend some medication to accompany you in your travels, especially if you're heading to regions of the globe with potentially dangerous diseases.
2. Traveling Disconnects You From Your Daily Life
This is extremely related to my previous point. We tend to be so caught up in our daily lives that sometimes by simply sticking around we may cause more harm than good. Your boss is taking over your life? Kids are driving you mad? Your parents are trying to make you live the life they want? How long do you think you can handle this pressure before you burst and everything falls apart?
Sometimes it is best to take a step back, take a deep breath and take go that Tower Bridge selfie. In all seriousness, travel is not a bad option - it is the most natural way of inducing the feeling you miss someone or that you are missed. The trick is to leave with a bit of preparation to avoid making a mistake during your journey. Plus, if you're flying, you better start thinking about booking your tickets sooner than later.
3. Traveling Makes You Smarter
Get used to picking up new words in a different language every time you travel and you will see improvements in your brain capacities, as Dan Roitman wrote in the Huffington Post. If only this, start getting familiar with travel jargon.
Even more than "just" languages, traveling helps you learn about yourself. You might run into challenging situations where you need to be resourceful and think differently. I'm sure that you will develop a new set of skills that you didn't suspect you had within you.
4. Traveling Improves Your Understanding Of Other Cultures
Being more understanding and tolerant about a culture different than ours is part of being smarter, but I consider it as a benefits of traveling in itself. There is a quote by Saint Augustine, which goes “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”. You could think of it this way: if you read what's in the news or watch the news on TV and don't question it, you're missing on a ton of information. You might think that it makes you smarter and more aware of the world, but it's the exact opposite: it narrows your mind to a unique and biased perspective.
Sure, you probably feel comfortable where you are, but that is just a fraction of the world! If you are a student, take advantage of programs such as Erasmus to get to know more people, experience and understand their culture. Dare traveling to regions you have a skeptical opinion about. I bet that you will change your mind and realize that everything is not so bad abroad.
5. Traveling Makes You More Interesting
I have no doubt that you're quite the conversationalist. That being said, including a few stories from abroad is likely to grant you even more attention. Mentioning something that most people aren't familiar with or bring a new perspective is always a good way to shine in a social situation.
Who do you think people want to listen to: the guy who spent his vacations at home doing some gardening and reading the newspaper, or the one who spent a week in Cuba, driving an old American car, swimming with dolphins and tasting deliciously spicy food? I know which story I want to hear about...
6. Traveling Allows You To Try Amazing Food
Speaking of food, I bet you're one hell of a chef and your home meals are delicious. But there is no such thing as trying a typical local dish from another country. Don't trick yourself into going to the Sushi shop next door: you don't know what sushi tastes like until you've been to Japan.
Eating local food in a new country is an entirely new experience. All the flavors are different. Here me out: I'm French and I love our local recipes. You do to. But let's not kid ourselves: some change would be more than welcome in our daily diet. If only because we're naturally curious. Some food bloggers travel thousands of kilometers for a specific dish! The least you can do is travel to the next region and try something new.
7. Traveling Makes You Feel Like An Adventurer
Despite the fact that the world has never been as well connected as today, there are still places that are little known to the average tourist. Setting up a list of places you want to visit is extremely motivating. You have something tangible to go after. I'm currently working on my own bucket list, and I think I'll never see the end of it, with all these amazing destinations.
The benefit of traveling to a new place is that it forces you to face the unknown and think differently. You don't need to go spend a month in the jungle! If you live in a large city, just going on a hike over the weekend will make you feel different. Adventures require novelty, so get out of your comfort zone. It might be scary, but in retrospect, you'll see it as the best decision you ever made!
8. Traveling Expands Your (Real) Social Network
Believe it or not, social networks was once like a real thing - in real life. Crazy, I know. Establishing connections and building a network abroad is one of the smartest things you can do in today’s world. It is sometimes hard to build long-lasting relationship with the people you meet abroad, but it doesn't mean it's not worth meeting new people!
Take this example: I've spent last year's New Year's Eve in Tanzania. I slept for two days at the flat of an Egyptian expat. I met him on Couchsurfing, once of the best ways to find cheap accommodation when you travel. Now, a year later, this guy invites me to his wedding in Egypt! How amazing is that?! Some connections you make over your travels are surprisingly strong.
9. Traveling Creates Lifetime Memories
My grandfather was an amazing story-teller and he used to tell me stories of the trips he made when he was younger. One of my favorites is how he tried eating with chopsticks in China for the first time. He regretted not traveling more as a young man. Years later, he still remembered everything in details: because traveling made a real impression on him. And it probably will on you too.
No matter how insignificant it may seem, the fact that you've had an experience abroad, something that was out of the ordinary, creates a memory that you will remember for a long time.
10. Traveling Makes You Love Your Home Even More
“The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back”. You will truly understand the meaning of those words by Wendy Wunder, only upon your return home. On the one hand, it would seem that you’re back where you started, same setting, same people, same problems. Yet you’re not the same - you’re new, full of new knowledge and ideas!
I know that I was getting bored after living my whole life in the same place. I needed to get out, I need a change of scene. I was focusing only the negative: how there isn't much to do around, how you always meet the same people, how nothing changes. Now, when I come home, I'm glad about all of this and I see only the positive.
Final Words On the Benefits of Traveling
Traveling Doesn't Make You Feel (As) Bad For Spending Money
There is (yet) another one by Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.” Cliché as this may sound, the money you spend on travel, is an investment in yourself. Travel doesn't make you feel as bad for spending money.
And one last benefit of traveling: it might provide some money when your flight is disrupted!
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