Traveling is one of my biggest passions in life. Why? Because of everything I have gotten out of my experiences through travel. Of course it’s fun and adventurous, but it’s more than just that – it’s helped me develop as a stronger person and contributed immensely in making me the person I am. It’s experiential learning. Here are some reasons why going everywhere any chance you can can be so incredibly valuable.
- Traveling creates maturity and independence
Being in a different town, state, country, or continent can be scary and overwhelming! Whether you are alone or not, you will be in new situations where you have no choice but to act like a grown up and handle it. You will have to try things on your own, find that transportation, make that reservation, or talk to someone you don’t know. It forces you out of your comfort zone, which helps you grow.
- You learn it’s okay to ask for help
Although you become more mature and independent, part of that involves understanding that there’s nothing wrong with accepting others’ advice and assistance – this is a harder less for some more than others. There will be that time you get lost or confused. If I had started asking for help earlier in my travels, I would have saved the time it took to follow my old method of standing in front of a sign with a confused look on my face until someone came over and asked what I needed. It’s usually much more efficient to just ask! Often you can meet friendly people and may even learn something unexpected in the process.
- It’s always good to gain perspective
Traveling makes you aware of how small you are in the world. Billions of people live on this Earth with struggles and realities you cannot even begin to comprehend. Actually exploring and taking a look around gives you a chance to face this fact and change your view of yourself, the world, and your place within it. Suddenly some trivial issues don’t seem as important.
- You understand patience really is a virtue
In a time where everything has become instant through modern technology, many people lack the skill of basic patience. Even if everything is on time and goes smoothly, there will always be plenty of time to wait for flights, buses, trains, boats, other people, translations, or answers. Learning to deal with unwanted extra time is an important and worthwhile ability, even if it can be boring at times.
- You can find joy in the small things
When you travel to a new place, it seems like everything is new and exciting, even something as simple as a piece of bread. Experiencing this newness and discovering the ability to feel excitement over those little joys can be also be applied back home, you can gain a new appreciation for all parts of life with a fresh pair of eyes.
- Traveling often leads to a little modesty
In American society, direct confidence is often valued and seen in those who are successful. Experiencing being lost or confused in an unknown place can be a very humbling moment. Hearing what people in other parts of the world think of where you come from and learning about their values can change how you see yourself.
- It provides the chance to learn new perspectives of history and culture
Traveling often leads to museum visits and tours, but even if it doesn’t, any interaction with locals can help broaden your knowledge about a place, its history and culture, and how the perspective from that place may be different than from what you learned in your home country. Textbooks and Wikipedia articles can help inform you so much about a place, but actually going there and seeing it doesn’t just teach you, it actually affects you.
- Flexibility will make for a better experience
When you travel – whether it’s to the next town over or on the other side of the world – you have to be willing to be flexible. If your expectations are for a perfect trip, it will be a disaster because something will always cost more than planned, someone will get hurt or sick, something important will be forgotten during packing (Murphy’s Law of travel). Be flexible and positive, and you can even try applying these to “real” life once you’re back home – you may be surprised to find it makes you happier.