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Not all of us are made to be full-time travelers. Some things coming with that title are far from what people are willing to take, like sharing a room with tens of other travelers, not always having the possibility to groom yourself, staying on a low budget due to the fact that you don’t have a full time job, and pretty much looking like a homeless person in many of the cases.
On the other hand, sitting on a tour bus for thirty hours with people from your own country on a ‘European tour’ in pursue to see the tabloid specials, such as Eiffel Tower and Colosseum hardly falls under the definition of a traveler either.
But, if we put extremes aside, a cultural act of traveling can be so useful to a human being. And not simply because you can share the colorful pictures on your Facebook page to make your friends jealous. There are other reasons why travel is good for you.
1) Traveling makes you open-minded
If you live in your little town and never get out of there, you will find it hard to understand why other people do what they do. Traveling and seeing how other nations build their lives makes you understand their behavior and makes you more tolerant towards people with views different from yours. And it is not called ‘being mellow’, it’s called being ‘human’.
Every one of us had a different mom who grew up in a different environment and taught us different things based on what she’s learned from her parents. Regardless of what your law on discrimination says, we’re not all the same. But we learn to understand each other by learning more about one another and somehow that works best when you see things for yourself.
Why is it safe to be homosexual in Denmark but not in Russia? Why arranged marriage still exists and what are its advantages? Why Scandinavian couples have children without getting married? When things are done a certain way, there is usually an explanation behind it. Just ask before judging.
After seeing how others live for yourself, suddenly things make sense and you are willing to open up your mind. Only fools and dead men don’t change their minds.
2) Traveling puts you out of the comfort zone
That, of course, given that you don’t just get one of those ‘all inclusive deals’ where the only challenge you take is a walk from your hotel cafeteria to your hotel beach.
Your true personality is revealed in hardship and it is very likely that you will get into some, especially if you aren’t traveling to very popular destinations.
You can learn the power of your will when you miss your international bus and have to race in taxi trying to catch up with it (happened to me on my travel to Lithuania), or when you need to bargain your way on the Thai market when you know for sure they are trying to rip you off, or when you attempt to climb the highest peak of the country but it’s just too damn hard and wet and cold! (happened to me when I climbed Baru volcano in Panama).
You learn where your limits actually are. And of course you can say big ‘screw this all’ and decide to only travel to relaxing holiday destinations. Or you can heal your wounds and think ‘I had no idea I could do that’ and just keep on going and surprising yourself. Without stories, life would be so boring!
3) Traveling teaches you how to get organized
If you want to acquire one of those skills you can easily put on your resume, traveling is your training camp. If you are not very structured by nature, traveling will definitely teach you how to be organized, at least to some extend, otherwise, you are risking to feel point no.2 forever.
But apart from that, you need to arrange your trip, if agency or your super organized travel partner isn’t doing it for you. You need to know precisely when does your flights depart and arrive, whether you have enough time to travel from airport to your next train or bus. How to get to your hotel? How to arrange tours? Where to stay? Where to exchange currency? For me, preparing for a trip is the hardest thing about traveling, especially if you are your own planner. But man, does it feel good and easy when everything is according to plan!
4) Traveling helps to meet people
They might not all be movie starts or successful entrepreneurs or whoever you dream to meet. But they are all people with their heritage and story, so better make the best of it. Talk to people. See what they do, where they have been to, let them inspire you! If worse comes to worst, at least there is someone to have fun or drink with 🙂
At the end of the day, it is people who make your destination better or worse. For example, constant taxi honks in Panama City, which was beyond annoying, definitely made it worse.
But getting the sense of family while staying with nice people from all over the world under the same roof in remote location made it a thousand times better. I’ve experienced that staying on one of the isolated San Blas islands in Panama and by Kinabatangan river in Malaysia, and many other places.
5) Traveling inspires
Not sure what it does to others, but whenever I come back from every other trip I am full of energy and desire to start something new or to keep moving forward utilizing my skills and potential that I didn’t know existed. It has a lot to do with point no.4, as people are the ones who inspire the most.
The best way to take a break from the routine, that I know of, is to travel. Without travel inspiration there would be no Travel Monkey Blog or any other travel blog for that matter.
6) Traveling brings you closer to your partner
If you are not a solo traveler, going away with your partner or close friend is an awesome opportunity to bond. Yes, there will be moments when you’d want to kill each other for not equally sharing the admin tasks or for not wanting to stay at the same place. Of course, if you are smart, you’ll chose someone who has reached point no.3 as your travel partner.
But at the end of the day, going through challenges and changes together is what brings people closer.
Your friend will be there when you’ve got a fever at the top of the mountain and you need a shoulder to help you get back down, friend will be there to take turns sleeping at the airport layover watching the luggage. Hardships put a test on any relationship, but when you survived, you know your friendship is rock solid.
7) Traveling makes you rich without buying things
Yes, memories is the most valuable treasure you can have. Computers get slow, phones get outdated, cars break down, money gets devalued, nothing lasts except for memories in your head. What would you want to remember when you are 80 and talking to your grandchildren?
Wouldn’t you want to tell them about the world? Show them the photos of your trips, tell them the stories of the challenges you’ve been through? Of course, in next generation traveling on Earth might not be as exciting anymore, as going to Mars, for example. But still, for you it will always be a treasure.
8) Traveling will boost your foreign language vocabulary
Believe it or not, even my dad, who’s not into languages at all, memorized the basics in Portuguese and Danish when he traveled with me.
You can hardly go by without learning at least some of the things to say in local language. You will definitely pick up “hello”, “please” and “thank you” during your travel. And what I found fascinating is that in certain languages, such as Spanish, you might already know a lot of words without even learning the language. How? Many languages come from the same language groups, so if you know one, it will be easy to pick up the others. Of course, you can also go one step ahead, and learn the language before your trip!
9) Traveling educates you about food
Well, unless you’re one of those people who will eat at McDonald’s even when they go to India, then you will definitely revisit your food tastes. Tasting local food is one of the ‘to do’ things on your travel destination. It’s a big thing, people even have travel blogs about it. You can’t go to India without trying curry or Italy without trying pizza (you can try pizza everywhere, bad example).Anyhow, I am a Ukrainian and I might not be expert on how to cook Ukrainian dishes, but I picked up quite fast on how to make my food more Thai, Indian or Italian.
10) Traveling changes your life
Do not be surprised when people turn big eyes on you and say ‘you’ve changed’ after you came back from a long trip in Africa. Of course you have. I rarely met people who haven’t undergone some sort of inner restructuring after traveling abroad and seeing new things. They’re meant to change our life, so that we become more aware, more tolerant, more patient. I’ll only say one thing, if traveling doesn’t change you, then you’re doing it wrong.
And if this is not enough to convince you, here are some of the health benefits of traveling backed by science.