As I gear up for my next trip (to Barcelona!!), I had to write about my love of traveling. I’ve had so many memorable experiences, learned a lot about different places and cultures, and even more about myself.
Thanks to my parents, I started traveling at an early age. Both immigrants to the US, they would often bring me along on their trips back home and to other places they ventured. Back in the day I wasn’t always the biggest fan of leaving my toys and tv shows for the unknown, but I’m actually very thankful for these early experiences of going abroad. They really shaped my world view and piqued my interest in different societies, cultures, and lifestyles. Perhaps a precursor to my sociology degree!
These days, traveling has become one of my favorite activities and it’s something that I think everyone should do as often as possible. Here’s why:
1. It’s an Adventure!
While traveling I’ve gotten to try so many exciting things that I never imagined I would do. Hiking through the Gamboa rain forest in Panama, zip-lining in Mexico, dune-bashing Dubai, and horseback riding through the Escambray Mountains in Cuba. These are not activities you can do just anywhere, but traveling allows you to have these kinds of unique experiences.
And adventure doesn’t necessarily mean jumping off a 100-ft cliff or swimming with sharks. Just finding your way through a bustling city, communicating in a different language, or tasting foods you’ve never heard of can also be an adrenaline rush or even just a cool story to tell. I’ve found that things never seem to go according to plan. Sometimes just getting there and back is an adventure all in itself!
2. Unforgettable Memories
Some of my best memories are of trips I’ve taken with family and friends. I’ll never forget looking down from the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) in Dubai or dancing in the Carnival parade in Grenada. I’ll always remember the experiences I’ve had while traveling–the sights, the food, the activities, the conversations, the music. Everything seems much more vivid when you’re in a new environment and experiencing it for the first time. And of course, you’re going to take tons of photos, so you can relive these moments as often as you please.
3. Expand your World-View
When you’re surrounded by people who live like you, dress like you and think like you, it’s easy to assume that your way of life is universal. Traveling will show you that this is NOT the case. Your idea of “normal” will be challenged when you’re in a new country or even a new city.
It’s eye-opening to find that there are vastly different ways of living from place to place. For me, it’s so fascinating seeing the contrast between cultures–socially, environmentally, spiritually, economically, in almost every facet of life.
Traveling makes me reflect on my own values and ways of thinking and presents alternatives to my “norm” that I never considered. You realize there’s so much out there and so many more possibilities than what’s in your own little bubble. And that there isn’t just one way to live.
Traveling, for me, is a form of self-care. We all need time to engage in activities that support our mental and physical health, as well as our happiness. It’s so crucial in this day and age, where so many of us are overworked, stressed out, and exhausted, to take care of ourselves. This might sound selfish, but sometimes you have to put yourself first! Traveling is a great way to just leave it all behind and restore your sense of peace.
It’s also a great time to reflect on your life and get in touch with you. I find it difficult to gather my thoughts and feelings when I’m at the center of everything. Taking a step back from my routine helps me think more clearly and productively. I always return with greater self-awareness and motivation to move forward. If you’ve been struggling with a dilemma or decision, your answer might just be a plane ride away!
5. Become More Interesting
It’s nearly impossible to go on a trip and return without a few cool stories to share. Even ordinary situations seem novel and entertaining when it’s in a unfamiliar place. I personally love hearing about other people’s experiences and recommendations! And I love sharing my own! I’m always in awe of people when they describe their trips to places I want to visit. It’s inspiring because if they ventured there, I can too!
6. Build Self-Confidence
Traveling isn’t easy. You’re stepping outside of your comfort zone and into a completely new environment–learning how to navigate new languages, people, customs, and terrains. This can be challenging!
You’ll face unexpected obstacles and be pushed to your limits. But in the end, you’ll feel like you accomplished something amazing and have a new understanding of what you’re capable of. You learn to trust yourself and develop more confidence overall. Things that once intimated you don’t seem so scary anymore.
7. Appreciate your Life
Now, especially with social media, we have a front row seat to everyone else’s lives and comparison is hard to avoid. However, by traveling I’ve learned to be grateful for all that I have. No one’s life is perfect, but when I see poverty in other countries, I realize how much I take for granted. Just the ability to travel at all and experience another person’s home is a blessing. It forces you to take stock of the goodness and positivity in your life.
Gratitude is such a powerful quality, with various proven benefits. It improves your physical and mental health, relationships, self-esteem, emotional stability, and sleep. There’s a direct link between gratitude and happiness. So, traveling can make you a much happier person in your everyday life!
So, tell me…Are you a wanderluster?
What do you love most about traveling and where do you love to travel to?