For the first time in my life I have the freedom and means to travel a lot and it feels wonderful! Everyday my bucket list grows with new places I want to visit; Thailand, Malaysia, Africa, Croatia, Italy, the Greek Islands, Bora Bora….it never ends. Fortunately, this year I have scratched off a few destinations too; Nepal (check), Dubai (check) and Amsterdam (check). Each time I set out on a new adventure I feel free to explore the world on my own terms. When the trip is over, I find myself longing for the next one. I wish more people would travel. It brings us together as humans and we learn things through our adventures. Here are the 5 reasons that I enjoy traveling and I hope they will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and visit someplace new.
1. It opens your mind
When the boundaries of your world extend only to the next state or county, your perception is limited. Your world exists only within the confines of your own limited experiences.
The world is huge. There is so much to see and do, and every time I travel I see things from a fresh pair of eyes. Things are not black and white, right or wrong. There is a massive grey area when it comes to other cultures. They have different values, ethics and traditions. They see me through those limited perspectives as well. The only way to bridge these gaps and narrow our judgments of one another is through travel when you can experience such things for yourself. The Discovery Channel can’t make you feel what it’s like to see genuine poverty with your own eyes. It can’t make you feel the desperation from a street kid begging for money. Even the beautiful videos and pictures can’t make you feel the cold from the Himalaya Mountains or really appreciate the hardiness of the people that live there without heat and electricity. These things must be experienced first-hand to really be appreciated and understood.
2. You learn about the world
I’ve aready touched on the mental and emotional aspects of opening your mind through travel. What I mean by learning about the world is that you experience other countries world events. There are so many other serious things happening right now in other countries that have nothing to do with Donald Trump. People in India can’t access their own cash. There are Syrian refugees, child brides, earthquakes, cyclones, civil wars, droughts and slavery. These current world events are real and when you travel you hear about them, witness them and meet people whose lives have changed forever as a result of them. It builds compassion and awareness.
3. You learn about yourself
I’ve learned a lot about myself this year and I recently posted about it. I’ve learned patience (although I’m sure that is a process that I still need to continue). I’ve learned about interracial relationships. I’ve learned that white privilege is real. I’ve learned about other cultures and the challenges of doing business in another country. I’ve learned that I don’t like trekking with a guide or group. I’ve learned so many things about myself that they are beyond the confines of this post. There is no better way to learn about your own values, desires and fears than traveling. It takes you out of your comfort zone and really teaches you about who you are as a person. You learn your strengths and your weaknesses.
4. It makes you more appreciative of your family, friends and comforts of home
I’ve been reading a lot of other travel blogs recently so I can get better at it. Last week I read about two other travel blogging women that after about five years of growing a successful blog following, began to long for home again. They eventually gave up the traveling lifestyle because they really missed their family and friends. They missed a cozy fireplace in the wintertime. They missed visiting with their neighbors and drinking at their local watering hole. They missed having a sense of belonging that you can truly only experience by putting down roots somewhere and staying put. Now they both travel about 20% of the time and find that they feel happier. I get it. I really do. I will never again take for granted things like the laughter of my children, a hug from a dear friend, snuggling with my dog and sleeping in my own bed.
5. It builds self confidence
Many of us, especially women, have some self-esteem issues. Regardless of the source of your lack of self-confidence, nothing builds your confidence more than traveling. When you travel you sometimes find yourself in unique situations that only you can solve. So you missed your flight, now what? Someone stole your wallet. What do you do? Your hotel reservation was somehow cancelled and you have no place to stay. What are your options? All these situations sound horrible and probably keep a lot of people from traveling because they hate the thought of dealing with such hassles, but the fact is these types of situations build character. If you can stay calm and work through the problem on your own, you learn that you are capable of handling just about anything. You learn how to be truly independent.
This year, as challenging as it has been for me, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It has changed me in ways that I never anticipated, and somehow I feel like my real journey has just begun. Join in the journey my friends!