There’s no question that traveling is fun. It’s what we do to escape the every day, and for some of us traveling is the only course in life we get. Travel is a great way to learn about the world by getting out there and exploring it. Whether you go on a 12-month solo backpacking adventure in South East Asia or a two-week vacation in the Alaskan wilderness, travel teaches you that you are braver and more capable than you think.
Here are some of the lessons we have learned on our travels.
There’s always more to learn
No matter how much you know about the world, there’s always something new to learn. It can certainly be confronting to admit your own ignorance, but it’s also rewarding to discover something new. Travel can also deepen your knowledge about something you thought you knew quite well already. From learning another language to another way of life, it can broaden your mind in a relatively short time.
It develops your confidence
Not just in social situations (though it does help with that too), but also in how you go about dealing with challenging situations. From figuring out the bus routes in an unfamiliar country, to speaking broken Spanish to *gasp* an actual Spanish person (instead of just your Spanish-speaking tutor). Being more confident means you’ll be better able to navigate the world. The more challenging situations you put yourself in, the better you will respond to them in the future, because leaving your comfort zone forces you to confront your fears.
How to make friends
If you’re someone who struggles to approach people, traveling can definitely help you overcome your social fears. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, traveling can be a less intimidating social experience. Meeting other travelers is much easier than you think, and you will learn that almost everyone wants to connect. If you are traveling solo, you will quickly learn that befriending other travelers can make your travels much more interesting.
You appreciate differences
Travelling to places very different from your hometown means you will encounter people who think, act and speak differently from you. It can be scary to be the “odd one out”, but if you embrace these differences you’re more likely to see it as a positive experience that you can grow from. Fear can be a response to the unknown, so by making the unknown known, you eliminate those unnecessary fears.
It teaches open-mindedness
Being open-minded means refraining from making judgments about a particular person or practice until you’ve gathered enough information. It’s easy to think you have all the answers because you live your life a certain way, but when you experience a culture very unlike your own you realize there are many ways to look at the world. Being open-minded also means acknowledging flaws in your own upbringing.
It can strengthen your own values
Travel does challenge you, but it also helps solidify your own opinions and values. Perhaps your visit to Italy and seeing how important their family culture is, made you realize how important your own family is to you. It can also strengthen your belief in yourself as someone who controls their own destiny.
Everyone’s different, yet we’re all the same
This is humanity’s contradiction – we’re different, but ultimately we’re the same too. We might discover traditions so foreign to us we can’t get our head around them, or meet someone from the opposite side of the world that seems to share our values and beliefs. Sometimes you might come across someone who completely shatters stereotypes you’ve held for a long time. Travelling can teach you that in spite of our differences, we can still respect each other and live harmoniously.
You can get by with less
Travelling can help you embrace a simpler life. The more you travel, the more you realize that packing light can make your trip much less stressful. You’ll find that you really only need the essentials, and you can get by on a lot less than you thought. Because it’s the experiences and the people you meet that make traveling fun, not how many pairs of socks you bought.
It teaches you to appreciate the little things
A home-cooked meal and the comfort of your own bed can mean the world when you come back from your travels. It’s nice to be away from home, even just so you can appreciate it when you come back.
Of all the lessons to learn from traveling, the most important is the people you’ll meet and what they can teach you. Travelling is not something you can learn from a textbook, it can only be learned through experience.
How many of these lessons have you learned on your travels?