What travel will do for you

“The trip around the world means big moments of living.”

travel benefits

Travel is, without a doubt, one of the best things you can do to enhance your life.

It’s up there with taking care of your health, getting an education and feeding your thumos. In fact, one could argue that travel creates byproducts of all three.

Travel makes you see yourself and the world around you differently. It opens up your perspective from multiple viewpoints.

This article is about the benefits of travel and what you will get out of it as a consequence of getting off your arse and seeking adventure. Before I do, it’s worth briefly mentioning what travel won’t do for you.

You’ve probably seen the ‘travelgram‘ pictures on Instagram which seem to show how travel is some kind of panacea to all life’s ills.

The ‘meditating on the cliff edge’ shot which has been done a million times. Hashtag blessed.

Or the overly photoshopped beach shot with turquoise seas and clean white sands which looks nothing like it in real life.

Hashtag wanderlust.

Or the cheesy quote that says something about “those who wander aren’t lost”, or something.

Instagram is a form of entertainment not to be taken as any form of truth.

Travel is not the answer to all life’s problems and running away from them won’t help.

What travel influencers fail to include in their travel porn are the delays, theft, illness, bad smells, hordes of people and all the other crap that comes along with travel.

That said, travel can be a life-changing experience.

It can open you up to new possibilities, create and solidify friendships and help you appreciate what you already have.

This is what travel will do for you.

Travel helps you understand your own culture more

When you travel to far-off countries with different ways of living to your own, you develop an understanding of your own culture in deeper ways than you would otherwise.

The differences between your the place you’re visiting and your own background can be striking. For me, the most pertinent example was Ecuador.

The Ecuadorians are both melancholic and superstitious which is reflected in their music, art and outward appearance.

They’re sombre in their outlook and their belief in the spirit world means shamanism is a part of everyday life. Guinea pigs, what we consider a furry pet in the West, are not only eaten by the Ecuadorians but are killed in shamanic healing practice.

Compare this type of culture to Western values, where science trumps spirituality and optimism takes preference over pessimism, visiting places like Ecuador gives you get a better understanding of the lenses in which you view the world.

You’ll develop long-lasting friendships

benefits of travel
The view from hiking the Acatenango volcano in Antigua, Guatemala.

The basis of any friendship is formed through shared experiences usually through school, work, a hobby or living in the same area.

When you hike a volcano in Antigua, catch a speedboat across the sea from Belize to Guatemala or road-trip through the USA with people who were only strangers a few days before, it’s not hard to understand why those shared experiences can help long-term friendships to form.

These are unforgettable experiences and ten years later that bond is still there even if the friendship is downgraded to an online one.

I have friends who I met travelling fifteen years ago and who are still in my life today. If it wasn’t for taking the time out to travel I wouldn’t have them in my life.

Besides, the people you befriend while travelling are often interesting and higher conscious type people. They’re searchers, like you.

It contributes to your own life philosophy

thai sunset
A Thai sunset

Have you ever met someone who has never left their hometown and was a rounded and spiritually deep individual? Unlikely.

It’s possible, no doubt, but we live in an era where travel has never been easier. If you’ve never taken advantage of that fact then it’s unlikely you will have pondered the world around you.

Travel plays a part in helping you develop your own life philosophy. Even more so if you travel alone.

You’ll realise there is much to learn about the wider and undiscovered world. You understand that life is an adventure rather than a routine of monotony. If only we are willing to make the effort to travel.

You’ll be inspired by beautiful landscapes, sunrises and sunsets. Clear night skies rich with constellations of stars will make you ponder what it is all about and whether there is a God. You’ll have time reflect on your life so far and consider what the future holds.

“Find out about this earth, this universe; this force and matter, and the spirit that glimmers up through force and matter from the magnet to Godhead. And by all this I mean WORK for a philosophy of life.”

Jack London

Travel makes you feel more alive

Travel is an adventure. It’s a way to get in touch with yourself by exploring the unknown and sampling danger.

It brings you out of your comfort zone, it heightens your senses and helps you get in touch with the side of you that’s usually dorment to feel more alive.

The activities you do and the places you go to will bring this out in you. Your dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline levels will spike regularly.

You’ll laugh harder, think deeper, have moments of insecurity and loneliness, question yourself, feel an immense sense of gratitude and experience every emotion related to the human condition.

Travel slows your life down

When no day is the same and when you’re constantly on the move, time begins to slow down. Not in the literal sense but in your perception of it.

If you travel well enough and don’t waste time, a week can feel like a month. The days blur and what happened just a few days ago seems like weeks ago.

When our lives are full of novelty, doing things which are new to us, it slows down our perception of time.

When our lives are full of routine the days and weeks seem to blur and life seems to fly by in the blink of an eye.

Travel by definition is a novel pursuit. The people you meet, the places you go and the activities you take part in are rich in novelty which will heightening your senses and slow down time.

Materialism becomes less important

what travel will do for you
Cotopaxi, Ecuador.

When you go from place to place, country to country, in planes, trains, buses, cars and on foot, you understand the importance of travelling light.

Unnecessary items weigh you down and use up your energy. You have to become economic with what you pack.

There’s an immense sense of freedom and feeling content when all of what you need in this life are contained in a rucksack.

It begins to impact how you view material items in general. You realise that the bare minimum is often all you need both in travel and in life.

I’ve never been an overly materialistic person but the more I travel the greater the joy I get from having fewer items.

Perhaps it’s an age thing too but you begin to focus on quality over quantity. Why focus on trends when you can go timeless?

You understand the concept of serendipity

One of the best ways to engineer serendipity (or luck) in your life is to get out of the daily routine.

Routines are great for productivity but not so much for serendipity.

If you’re doing the same thing, day in and day out, your chances of something out of the ordinary happening to you are slim to none.

When you travel you have no set routine and every day is different.

You don’t have the stresses of work and other responsibilities taking up your time or thinking space. You’re more open to meet new people, go to new places and do different things in a shorter concentration of time.

These serendipitous encounters, be it a person or place, can put you on a path you would previously never have known or thought of. It will open you up to new ways of thinking and shine a spotlight on areas of your life you weren’t taking notice of.

When you live in the moment with no set agenda you become more open to new experiences and possibilities. Travel is one of the best facilitators of how to do it.

Travel reminds you how lucky you are

If you’re born in the West and reading this, personal problems aside, you’re in the luckiest five percent of people in the world. At least when it comes to wealth, equality and health.

Coupled with this, you’re one of the first generations to be able to travel the worl in relative ease and cost.

We take it for granted now but previous generations rarely left their own country. Now, you can be on the other side of the planet in a day.

We’re so lucky we can see in-person all the things that our parents and grandparents could only watch on the TV.

Travel makes you appreciate home

One of the best parts about travel is returning home.

That return from adventure, the hero’s journey back home, full of stories and new perspectives is a feeling worth savouring.

If you do it right, your return home should be as enjoyable as the departure.

Granted, that feeling won’t last forever as you settle back into normal life but it will give you a perspective on your home you probably haven’t felt for a while if you felt it at all.

And that’s what travel will do for you.

Written by Ste Davies

Ste ‘Stephen’ Davies is a freelance digital consultant, traveller, writer, podcaster and speaker based in London, UK. You can reach him here or follow him on Twitter below.

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