From young people fresh out of school, to retirees planning their dream trip, many people are inspired to pack up their bags and head off to see the world at some point in their lives. There are so many advantages to traveling. It can be adventurous, exciting and most definitely fun, but can traveling also make you a better person?
I believe it does, for the following reasons.
Going to a new country, you are inevitably confronted with new cultures, historical sites and a different way of life. Sometimes you will spend days visiting museums or listening to tour guides explain the French revolution, soaking up facts as you go. Of course you can read about these places online, but chances are, you won’t. Somehow being in a city inspires you to learn everything you can about it, and you tend to remember the things you’ve done, rather than just read about. The fact that you walked up the Spanish Steps means that you will forever remember that they are in fact in Rome, and not Spain.
Traveling forces you out of your comfort zone. All of a sudden, you’re the odd one out and you’re forced to adapt to other people’s way of doing things. You may be in a noisy restaurant in Vietnam or on a crowded train in Japan, which would have driven you to insanity in your normal life. However being abroad, you learn to tolerate (and even enjoy) other cultures. You learn to not sweat the small stuff and worry about more important things, like not losing your passport!
Speaking of losing things, when you head off on a trip, those pesky airlines force you to squeeze your life into a suitcase. Suddenly, you are forced into survival mode, and have to consider what the 20kg of possessions you can’t live without are. This may be very difficult at the beginning, but when you are on the Inca Trail in Peru, you begin to wonder why you even thought you’d need 3 pairs of high heels. You learn to live with less, and be content.
Part of being abroad and away from everyone you know, you start to interact with strangers. Instead of the usual conversations about what you did on the weekend, you learn to ask interesting questions and get better at getting to know someone. Travel also gives you better stories to tell. Rather than “the other week at the mall…”, you can recall a story of “when I was halfway up Mt Kilimanjaro…”
So, if at the very least, travel gives you one of the benefits above, you can consider yourself better off for having done it. If, like most people, you experience all of them, there is no doubt that travel has the potential to make you the best person you can be. When you feel you are a better person, you also inspire the people around you to live up to their potential. So, next time you are thinking about heading abroad, don’t let excuses get in the way. Travel offers more benefits than you could imagine.
Originally posted on: Medium