There are countless inspirational movies, posters and books that all promote travel and how it positively impacts your life. If you’re not an eat, pray, love type and want some more pragmatic reasons for travel then I think this post can be helpful. Full disclosure, this post is more practical for people without children. I know plenty of travel families that journey together but I understand that taking risk is not a luxury that all parents can afford.
One thing to consider before traveling is two very common types of travelers that miss out on the benefits.
- The first is the all inclusive traveler
I understand that for many people who take short term vacations, all inclusive resorts can seem appealing. One of the biggest benefits of travel is seeing how other people live and experiencing their culture. You can’t do this is you never leave the resort or only seek out the food you eat at home. Take a chance and get out of your comfort zone. Try to immerse yourself in the culture of wherever you are visiting. It will give you a greater perspective on life and help teach you true empathy.
- The pretentious backpacker
These travelers are what put people off to the whole idea of setting off on an adventure. Most of these types of travelers turn something beautiful into a competition of how long you can travel and how many countries you make it to. It has been my experience that most of these types are rich kids who of course preach an ideology of being carefree and breaking the shackles of the conventional worker. Its easy to preach about self discovery and going wherever the wind takes you when someone else is footing the bill. Having the opportunity to travel because you are well off is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is not a license to look down on others who have not had the same chances you have.
Traveling can open your world up to so many possibilities. Try not to limit yourself by being one of these types of travelers.
So you may wonder what are the so called benefits beyond anything spiritual or abstract. Beyond the obvious reason of seeing new exciting places, there are several advantages.
- Stepping out of the bubble
Too many people live and die in the same town without ever seeing what else is out there. If we were given only one option for a meal everyday or the choice of countless delicacies to try, what would you choose. It’s a simple metaphor but it is absolutely true that the possibilities beyond your little part of the world are endless. When you start to meet other world travelers you will see everyone comes from different walks of life but that their paths were forever changed once they decided to see how other people live.
- Don’t live life in regret
It’s very common to meet older people who regret not traveling when they had the opportunity. Whether it was work or beginning a family, not seizing the opportunity when you still had the chance is a hard choice to live with. Take chances when you are young because as you get older, it will become much harder to take risk.
I mentioned earlier that empathy is one of the wonderful byproducts of travel. You may realize just how good you have it when you visit an impoverished population or find yourself envious of another countries infrastructure. Nowhere you visit will be perfect but seeing the way other day to day lives exist opens your mind to new possibilities. The hospitality you were afforded in a different country will make you think twice the next time see a traveler in yours.
- Destroying prejudice
Seeing new parts of the world may show you many new things but for myself I find more common ground everywhere I go. You will start to see how much we are all alike rather that what separates us as you journey more and more. Weak Ideologies such as bigotry and racial superiority do not stand a chance to the simple truth you will find while traveling, there is only one race and we are all apart of it.
- Stress reduction
My wife is a clinical psychologist, so of course she loves citing the research. Recent studies have shown that taking regular vacations can critically reduce stress in your life. In addition, stress reduction can be attained regardless of the duration of the vacation. Be it 2 weeks or 2 days, your life will be positively impacted.
- Making friends worldwide
Some of the best long term friendships can be forged during travel. We have met people from around the globe who remain in our lives to this day. One added benefit is that we host and are hosted by friends when we travel. Having a network of couches to sleep on helps perpetuate the journeys that we take. Some of are closest friends grew up on the other side of the world and we get a unique insight into various cultures through their eyes.
You may think this all sounds great in theory but how can the average person afford this life style. The hard simple truth is that it’s very simple when you make it a priority. People often make passive aggressive statements like “it must be nice to travel so much”. The fact is, it is nice and that is why we save to make it a reality. Do you enjoy going to Starbucks every morning before work? What about going out to the bar or club on the weekend? Do you go out to restaurants more than you cook? Do you fill your home up with items you don’t need and justify it by telling yourself you work hard and deserve to reward yourself?
The fact is that we sacrifice all these little luxuries throughout the year in order to afford travel. My partner and I set a goal and that is what we work toward the whole time. Anytime we want to buy ourselves something we don’t need, we start doing research on the next place we want to visit and it sustains us.
Not everyone gets the travel bug and there is nothing wrong with that, to each their own. Even if seeing the world doesn’t hold a great appeal for you, don’t close yourself off to the opportunity to change your life for the better. Start small, take a modest trip that won’t break the bank. Try to work your way up to one big trip to see what is out there. Even if you don’t become a lifelong travel enthusiast, you will always remember the trip you took and you will be the better for it.