Particularly in Western society, as we grow up and take on more and more responsibility like full time careers and families it gets easier and easier to tell ourselves we can’t afford to take the time out of our busy lives to travel, to see the world, to be carefree and experience new things. Our society teaches us that work comes first, and that personal time and enjoyment is reward for hard work. While these are good values to live by, it is important to remember to regularly nourish the soul, not just the body. Travel is something that everyone should value and experience, as much as we value our own physical health. It feeds the soul, and is good for the mind, body and spirit. Here are four solid reasons you should take the time to travel at some point in your life, and really experience all that other cultures and countries have to offer. Whether you take some time to explore the world on your own, or have your family in tow, make it happen!
It’s hard to realize how much of a sheltered bubble we actually live in until we have properly stepped out of it. Placing yourself in new surroundings forces you to step out of your comfort zone, cross paths with people you normally wouldn’t, learn how other cultures live in comparison to yours, and most importantly that your way of life isn’t the only one! Living in North America, it can often feel like we’re the center of the universe, however there are so many other cultures out there that live quite differently based on cultural or religious values, or sometimes on the necessities of their climate and the state of their economy. While western society is generally considered one of the most advanced on a world scale, there is always more to learn from other cultures, and room for improvement in our own personal lives.
Contrastingly, sometimes viewing the poverty, struggles and corruption of third world countries is a necessary eye opener that makes us realize how blessed we are to live where we do and have the opportunity to live a comfortable, safe and healthy life. Basically, travelling both broadens our perspective on life and makes us more grateful for what we have.
Now for the fun part- the cultural experience! As much as you might love the in and out burger and hitting the club on Saturday night, American cuisine and culture can be unhealthy and bland in comparison to the world of spice and flavor you will find abroad! Test your limits and try everything, you will no doubt discover new dishes and experiences that you never thought you’d be into! A cultured palette is a great thing to bring to the table (literally) on any date or business dinner as well, just saying. Plus, a girl or guy who can salsa? Talk about fire. Knowing about different types of foods, wines and cultural practices immediately makes you seem worldly and interesting, and gives you more to offer in any given relationship or conversation.
One majorly undervalued result of traveling is not the knowledge you bring back about the rest of the world, but how much you learn about yourself while exploring it. Testing your limits by putting yourself in unfamiliar (and sometimes uncomfortable) settings or scenarios, you will be forced to trust yourself and learn a lot about who you are, what you are capable of, and what your likes and dislikes are. You will also find yourself befriending people more easily, often people from different walks of life that you would never normally cross paths with, let alone befriend. Travelling forces us to put ourselves out there, it makes us more confident and outgoing, and above all it teaches us about self-reliance and courage.
Some of the deepest, most influential relationships are born while travelling. The traveler has a certain mindset, a certain willingness to learn and expand one’s horizons, so those we meet on this path often teach us more than those we have known our entire lives. We are more open minded and accepting of people’s differences, which allows us to overlook things that would normally deter us from forging unexpected friendships. The bonds made while on the road are stronger, and being out of your regular routine and on a path of self-exploration together forms some of the deepest, most meaningful bonds.
So quit making excuses! Just pick up and go. Document every special moment. Enjoy it- the experience will make you feel more alive than ever, and the memories will last for a lifetime.