Travel has long been viewed as an expensive hobby or past time of the rich, not anymore! These days, it’s incredibly easy to getaway on any budget, it just takes a little bit of planning and resourcefulness. If you ask me, everyone should be traveling at least once a year and here’s why.
1. Give it a rest!
Have you ever heard of burnout? It’s basically mental and sometimes physical exhaustion caused by being overworked or stressed for a prolonged amount of time. While certain professions are more apt to suffer from it, we’ll all inevitable burn the candle at both ends at some point. Americans average 1 week of paid time off compared to the 4 week holidays Australians get. Actually, Americans have the least amount of vacation time of any developed country. How’s that for ludicrous? Just as rest days are essential for building muscle so is taking a break for your mental sanity. Do yourself a favor and take a break; live a little! Your body and mind will thank you for it and you’ll come back to work more refreshed and energized.
2. Get outside of your bubble.
As we get older, we have a tendency to run in the same circles, become creatures of habit and sometimes get stuck in our ways. Traveling requires you to get outside of your comfort zone. This is good! You will inevitably be put in situations that are out of your control I.e. delays, getting lost in a foreign country, figuring out exchange rates, not speaking the language; the list goes on. Yes, while these are not ideal conditions, they happen. Personally, that’s when I’ve learned the most of myself, what I’m afraid of (looking dumb) and what I need to work on (my sense of direction). Are you patient? Do you get frustrated quickly? Do you go with the flow? Whatever the case may be, my hunch is experience will provide you with greater insight as to who you are, and that alone is worthwhile.
3. Travel is humbling
I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned and continue to learn from traveling is humility. I remember the first month I studied abroad in Mexico I was mugged. It was a frightening but also very growing experience. I had barely moved to the country and didn’t have many good friends or my bearings down yet, but the few friends I had came together and took care of me, no questions asked. I never felt alone even though I technically was alone in a foreign country. The feeling of genuine support is still fresh in my heart 8 years later and I’m forever grateful for it. Another time, I visited Brazil and a friend of a friend of a friend (at this point a complete stranger) went out of their way to show my buddy and I Porto Alegre off the beaten path. This included but was definitely not limited to a soccer game, reggae concert and ended at a churascarria, just because. I can’t tell you how many times during my travels people helped me out for no good reason other than they were good human beings. It makes you realize that despite what the media would have us believe, the world isn’t always such a bad place. Life happens everywhere but good honest people exist everywhere as well. In my experience they far outnumber the bad.
While I’ve always gone curious and open minded into my ventures, I admit in the beginning I wasn’t always well versed on some of the places I was visiting. Traveling longterm has made me eager to absorb culture, history and social differences as they occur. Not simply for the purpose of traveling or having a conversation piece, but because at the end of the day we’re all in this together. What happens in one place often has trickle effects in others.
4. Travel is the best teacher
This point piggy backs off the last, but travel is the greatest teacher. I’ve always been more of a hands on learner anyway, so for me it’s been a great way of exploring things I learned about in the classroom. It’s also made me question a lot of what I learned growing up in school and outside of it. Whether you want to or not you learn something as you travel more. I’ve definitely seen why Americans have such a bad reputation abroad. This is not a generalization just an observation that I’ve made. Going to another country just to party and check it off your bucket list while not taking the time to learn about it is NOT a good look. I’m sure I’ve even been guilty of some form of privileged behavior at some point or another myself. Please don’t be an entitled jerk and expect everyone to cater to you (this goes for everyone). If you’ve been guilty of this, do better next time. Read up a bit about where you’re going, it’s customs and some phrases. Remember patience, patience patience. Mostly, I think travel has taught me how little I know and how much more I have to learn. I seriously need to learn how to read maps!!
5. The people you meet!
I’ve got travel to thank for connecting me with nearly all my closest friends. From the friends I’ve made on volunteer trips, studying abroad, and as a flight attendant. These are people near and dear to me to this very day. Travel is such a great way of forging relationships with people from all walks of life, and it’s kind of the best. Having diversity in your friendships opens your world up. It enables you to be exposed to their struggles, and fears as well as their dreams and goals, which might be completely different than yours. This understanding, in turn, helps you be more compassionate and kind. Also, you have friends to visit anywhere you go, and who doesn’t want that?
These are just 5 reasons why you should travel once a year, but in all reality the list goes on. The more you travel the more reasons you’ll have to travel. I hope this article inspires you to get out there and start exploring! You don’t even have to go far, start close if that’s more feasible. Does this resonate with you? Why do you travel? What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned along the way?