While I’ve just returned from my 3-month trip backpacking through Southeast Asia this past January, I’ll be packing my bags up again in about two months time for a short 6-week trip to Italy, Spain and France. With wanderlust on my mind, I’ve compiled ten reasons why you should travel the world!
To take a walk through history.
We often forget that the world we live in is an old one and that it provides us with countless opportunities to traverse back in time to a place and an age long forgotten. Whether it’s walking the ancient city of Troy, or exploring the ruins of Angkor Wat, or if it’s simply to see a Degas or Da Vinci at the Louvre, traveling is all about experiencing cultures that span generations. And sightseeing is generally the number one reason why anyone would want to travel, right?
To meet new, interesting people and make deep connections.
You meet people everywhere; it’s just one of the side-effects of traveling the world. Whether or not you connect with them is entirely up to you, but when you do connect with a person, it’s the most magical experience in the world. I’ve met tons of people from all walks of life on my travels and are still good friends with a few of them. I can say that there’s nothing better than the feeling of connecting with someone who’s from a completely different place and bonding over a mutual interest or idea. Even if you may never see that person ever again, that connection is worth the experience.
While in Jakarta, Indonesia, my friend and I got caught in a torrential downpour. Instead of walking through the rain back to our hotel–a good hour walk through the city–we hailed a blue cab. We got a lovely driver, who spoke minimal English but was willing to struggle through communication with us–we knew just as much Bahasa Indonesian as he did English–to get us back to our accommodation. Google helped us as much as it could, but what really amazed me was that we didn’t really need to know each other’s languages in order for us to communicate and make a connection.
We made small talk about the rain–us trying to respond to our driver in Indonesian as best as we could–and our driver asked us where we were from. Upon learning we were from New York, our driver asked us about New Jersey and referenced the only thing he knew from there: Bon Jovi. He told us how he saw Bon Jovi perform in Jakarta once and how he was his favorite. So my friend and I began singing Bon Jovi songs and our driver smiled, nodded and hummed along for the rest of the ride back to our hotel. This is definitely a moment I’ll never forget.
It gets you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to try new things.
Whether it be new foods or new experiences, traveling definitely pulls you away from what’s familiar to you and will challenge you in ways you never thought life could. I don’t know how to swim, so jumping off a boat stopped in the middle of bay in Thailand to snorkel would have never been on my list of things to do in life, but when the moment arrived, I found myself flapping my fins in the wind and plunging into the clear turquoise blue water, life vest on of course. It was terrifying and I honestly thought I might drown (I’m terribly over-dramatic), but this was a great thing. I embraced it and so should you.
It gives you a widen perspective on the world.
It opens your eyes and broadens your mind to an array of new and endless possibilities. When you travel the world, your perspective of it changes. You learn more about it and how other people and cultures relate to your own. There’s no room for stubbornness or close-mindedness in travel. The world is filled with all sorts of different people and things. It will change the way you see it and the way you see yourself in it.
You learn more about yourself.
It’s amazing to see how much you grow through travel. You learn what you can handle and how you can adapt to virtually any situation thrown your way. And if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll come away from your travels knowing that you are much stronger and braver than you thought you were. That being alone doesn’t always mean you’re lonely and that it’s okay to cry sometimes when things get tough. But there’s nothing more fulfilling than to know you had the power to strive on!
You learn life skills and some important life lessons.
If there’s one thing I know that you take away from traveling, it’s a brand new set of acquired skills. Landing yourself in some sticky or awkward situations in a foreign land may seem like a huge obstacle in the road, but you’ll soon figure out ways to deal with or resolve any and all of them, even if you initially thought you couldn’t. You can. You just have to think hard and try, and soon enough you just learned yourself a new skill!
Challenges and mishaps happen all of the time during travel and if you’re one of the lucky ones, you may not even encounter some of the really bad stuff. But let me be clear, as a person who’s dealt with some of that bad stuff during my travels, boy do you learn a lot of life’s little lessons, even if it’s knowing the various different ways to get to a hospital in Thailand! You don’t know it now, but after traveling for a bit, you do!
For all the stories you’ll have to tell.
With traveling comes experience and sometime those experiences are so unbelievable that they almost always make for a great story. Hell, even the mundane bits of your travel can make a good story if told right. Traveling the world lends itself to these sorts of stories because you’re experiencing things in a new or different light. You’re bound to come home with a tale or two about that million man march in Barcelona you got stuck in that one time or that crazy trip to Mt. Bromo you took in a little teal Jeep.
It makes you appreciate life and all the blessings you have in it.
Not that it’ll happen often, but you’re bound to feel the pangs of homesickness at least once during your travels. Whether it’s for your mother’s home-cooked dinners or simply for your bed, you’ll learn to really appreciate what you have in your own life when you’re experiencing the ways of life of other people.
The world is so freaking beautiful that if you’re anything like me, just standing next to a volcano or swimming with the fishes in crystal clear water or overlooking all of Paris from the hill at Sacre Coeur can make you stop in your tracks and mutter “wow.” You take in the moment and appreciate life for all that its worth.
And sometimes traveling can be tough too. Things may go completely awry, you may lose stuff or worse, get yourself injured. It’s in these moments as well that you appreciate your life and what you have to look forward to once you get back home.
It’s the best way to live.
When you travel, you tend to lose your sense of time because you’re actually living in the moment, paying attention to your surroundings and truly appreciating all that life and the world has to offer. You become more mindful of who you are, where you are and who you’re with, and it’s a truly freeing experience that’s worth every penny!