3 Reasons Why I Travel, And Why You Should Too

It’s something everyone wants in some form or another whether they know it or not. I believe each person has a moment (or many) in there life where they say to themselves, “I want to go there.” To a place they have read in a book, have seen in a movie, or have even came across on their friend’s Instagram. Who has not had a fantasy of a far away place and feel their own heart beat at the thought of actually going?

Perhaps it is first good to note why people don’t travel. Despite that urge that is built into our very DNA– that same gene that pushes our ancient ancestors out of Africa, across deserts and mountains, and over the Bering Land Bridge- people hold themselves back. Why?

There are many answers to this question. There are common, widespread fears and misconceptions about traveling, especially among my fellow Americans. We fear that if we go somewhere where English is not the first language we will somehow starve to death alone in a gutter with passerbys only stopping to spit on our destitute American bodies. We think that you have to spend a fortune to be reasonably comfortable. We believe that everyone hates Americans because of the rude American stereotype and our government’s foreign policy history. We worry that we will miss out on our friends’ and families’ lives like birthdays and parties. And we don’t just worry about our families’, we worry about our property and belongings!

I’m sorry that I’m not sorry to say that these are all either false or just sad excuses to not travel. There is some strange myth that somehow became widely accepted that the world is scary, dangerous, and will screw you over at any chance it gets, especially if you are a foreigner.

WRONG!

You if you subscribed to any of these beliefs, I hope the news that you were wrong is music to your ears. So guess what- now you don’t have any reason not to have an adventure! Except there is still another obstacle that most people face, and that’s commitment. Sure, you could say, “I would love to go to Nicaragua,” but what does that mean? You are not going on the adventure of a lifetime just because you wished for it. Unless you are quite wealthy, it is like that you will have to sacrifice a bit to get you there. Getting the funds together could require discipline, such as saying “No,” to those little expenses that we don’t realize are eating into our bank accounts. But planning and budgeting are for other discussions. For now, we will just focus on the reasons that you should travel:

#1. It’s the best education you can get for the money. If you have dumped tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into your college education already, scraping together a bit more for your dream trip is a small investment by comparison. It is difficult to sum up all the things you will end up learning since it’s not really equivalent to earning credits towards a bachelor degree. What you learn is much more intangible- culture, communication, how art/cuisine/music/fashion/politics reflects in people and how that contributes to how people react to their environment and live. You can learn skills and languages. You will also find that you will have time to read books and articles and possibly write ones yourself, further contributing to your travel education. Returning from a journey you will feel so much smarter than when you left!

#2. It puts it all into perspective. In our day to day lives we worry constantly. It’s unfortunately a byproduct of routine, but can actually be damaging to your happiness and even health. However, when you step foot into a land you have never been before, somehow all of the unimportant things melt away. We can see the true value of our personal worth and what we can contribute. We can see our relationships back home for what they are- either good or bad- and remember why we love the people that we do. In many places in the world you will find people that are poorer than you, and yet amazingly happy, friendly people. This type of perspective is almost impossible to get inside the comfort zone bubble that many people unwittingly build around them.

#3. It makes you a stronger, more confident individual. If you are afraid to travel, you are probably the kind of person that travel can do the most for. I can personally testify that on my first independent international trip, I was greener than grass. I really hadn’t a clue. And where do you think I decided to go? India. I can’t even remember exactly why I chose India except that it was one of the farthest places- both distance wise and culturally- that I could think of from America. I hadn’t known anyone that had been to India, and I only have had Indian food maybe once or twice in my life before that. The only things my friends and family members told me about going there were from untrue stereotypes in their head and scary things they had remembered seeing on TV. Upon my arrival in India, I was terrified. My first meal I had was at a Subway because I was afraid to eat anything unfamiliar. I didn’t stay that way for long though. I made friends so quickly and came across so many helpful people. I learned how to barter, how to navigate around the country, how to speak a few Hindi phrases, and how to decipher a menu (a menu of exotic deliciousness). I learned about several religions, history that was never taught in my schools, how to use a squat toilet and take a bucket bath. I learned not just how to survive, but how to thrive all in just a few weeks before moving on to Thailand. All that was in 2009 and my life has never been the same and never will be. It was an invaluable experience that marks a significant turning point in my life, almost like a coming of age checkpoint.

I find it hard to believe that an experience like that couldn’t better anyone’s life. I’m not saying everyone should go to India specifically. There are as many life changing experiences out there as there are people seeking them. They could be waiting for you on a bungee line in New Zealand, at a volunteer orphanage in Myanmar, on a coral reef in the Red Sea, at the top of a skyscraper in Shanghai, or on a vineyard in Portugal.

I’m also not implying that everyone should travel as a lifestyle. I know it is not economically feasible for a lot of people to go out of the country for extended trips all of the time because of school, having kids, paying off debt, etc. I just recommend having at least one big adventure, one you have been dreaming of. You won’t regret it and it will greatly enhance your life. I certainly understand that there is more to life than travel and this article is not written with the intention of making people who don’t travel all of the time feel guilty. However, if the reason you haven’t traveled is because you are scared, because you think you can’t do it, because you don’t want to give up spending your paycheck on shopping and eating out and going to movies, or because you have just been too lazy to plan a trip then I feel no remorse if you feel a little guilty right now!

Please, no matter your age or situation, don’t think you can’t do it. I know you can.

Have you been thinking about making the leap into becoming a world traveler? If you have made that leap, congratulations, and what was your first big trip like? Is there anything I missed that you feel in important for why people do or don’t travel? Would you like to offer any tips to those who have never traveled before? I would love to see your stories in the comment box!

Happy Travels!

 


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