Today, nearly all people have been bitten by the travel bug. The whole world, it seems, has caught a serious case of wanderlust. All around, people are displaying signs and symptoms of this affliction. Most of the infected are in a state of frenzy, furiously planning trips, poring over maps, putting together itineraries, and packing bags. The rest, in contrast, are in a state of idleness, their minds adrift and their eyes full of longing, yearning for distant places or reminiscing memories of past adventures.
To make matters worse, with cheap flights, hotel deals, and a whole host of travel blogs, vlogs, magazines, and whatnot, it has never been easier to give in to wanderlust. If you haven’t been bitten by the travel bug just yet, then there is no better time to get infected than now. Here are nine reasons why you need to go out and see the world.
1. Explore beautiful places
The world is wide and full of wonders. Every part, every corner of the Earth is covered in beauty, from natural wonders to manmade marvels. To travel is the opportunity to see with your own eyes sights you don’t have at home. Travel takes you to places you only read from books, places that lie beyond the bounds of your imagination, places you never even thought existed!
There are places where the natural sceneries wrought by Mother Nature millions of years ago still exist, and where life still flourishes in remarkable wealth, wildness, and wonder. The impressive seaside Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, the paradisiacal Palawan Island in the Philippines, the surreal Atacama Desert in Chile, the crystalline Moraine Lake in Canada, and the lush Okavango Delta in Botswana are among the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders.
There are places where the ancient edifices built by early civilizations still stand. Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, only the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt still remains. The vast and sprawling temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the grand Colosseum of Rome in Italy, the remarkable Incan citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru, the glorious Parthenon in Greece, the marvelous Taj Mahal in India, and the extensive Great Wall of China are enduring testaments of the feats achieved by ancient civilizations.
Then there are places where the modern engineering and technological advancements of humankind are in full and proud display. The vast and populous cities of the world, like London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul, and Tokyo, are veritable jungles of concrete, steel, and neon lights, with towering skyscrapers and complex structures.
But there are also places that might vanish completely soon, places that you need to see now or risk not seeing them altogether. Rising sea levels threaten to submerge numerous low-lying island nations in Asia and the Pacific. Many of these countries are popular holiday destinations, featuring stunning white sandy beaches and postcard perfect tropical sceneries that are not found elsewhere.
Meanwhile, unprecedented global warming and climate change lay waste to coral reefs and the ecosystems they harbor. Severe devastation has already been wrought on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a popular tourist draw.
Whatever places you decide to visit, all guarantee new adventures and a chance to collect amazing photographs, take home stories worth telling, and make unforgettable memories.
2. Meet other people
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. – Mark Twain
Travel gives you the opportunity to meet people of diverse ethnicities, cultures, and religions, and form meaningful and fulfilling relationships. From friendship, to love, to business partnership, the people you meet on the road and the connections you make with them may be some of the most significant in your life. A chance encounter with a random stranger on a train station may be the start of a lifelong friendship. A month-long hiking trip with a fellow backpacker may eventually end up in marriage.
Travel affords you a glimpse into the lives of other people who might look, think, and act different from you, but human just like you. Along the way, you discover their stories. You see the world through the lens of their experiences. You hear the struggles they overcome on a daily basis, their resilience in the face of adversity, and their will to survive. For every story shared, you learn to be grateful for all the things you have, no matter how seemingly small or trivial. For every story shared, you learn to appreciate life a little more.
Travel can restore your faith in humanity. When you experience the goodwill and hospitality of strangers who ask for nothing in return, you realize that kindness is universal. When locals open their doors and welcome you into their homes and share with you what little they have, you realize that goodness in humanity still exists. In turn, you learn to be more humble, trusting, and generous.
Above all, travel endows you with a new and wholesome perspective of humankind. It builds your empathy and deepens your understanding of other people. It challenges your assumptions and dispels your biases. It frees you from callous and ethnocentric judgement of different cultures. It teaches you that no one culture is superior, and that being different does not mean being wrong.
Though travel by itself cannot eliminate bigotry altogether, as Maya Angelou so succinctly stated, it does help you see that no matter where we come from, what the color of our skin is, what language we speak in, or how we choose to live our lives, we are all human. Our differences may be many, but our similarities are far greater.
3. Learn foreign languages
There are some 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, about two-thirds of which are from Asia and Africa. Papua New Guinea alone has 840 languages! However, only around 23 languages account for more than half of the world’s population, while more than two thousand languages have fewer than a thousand speakers.
Travel is one of the most ideal opportunities to learn new languages. The local environment is already conducive for learning – the local language is spoken all around you! In places where no one understands your mother tongue, you will be forced to interact with native speakers. The more you place yourself in situations where speaking the local language is key to survival, the faster you learn and the better you get at it.
Besides, conversing with locals in their native language allows you to learn the cultural context of the language. You pick up slangs, jargons, idioms, metaphors, and ambiguities, and grasp the finer points and nuances of the local language, most of which you would not learn through textbook methods.
The benefits to learning new languages are plenty. Being bilingual or multilingual heightens your cognitive function, leading to improved memory, increased attention span, enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and a reduced risk of age-associated cognitive decline. The ability to shift from one language to another also fosters the development of your multitasking skills. Moreover, learning a second language allows you to learn a third, fourth, and so on language faster and with far less difficulty.
Proficiency in foreign languages expands your career opportunities. Bilingual or multilingual people are able to communicate and connect with a broader range of people across geographic and cultural boundaries. As workplaces become increasingly globalized, learning a new language gives you a competitive advantage.
Being conversant with multiple languages also allows you to have a richer and more fulfilling travel experience. When you have some knowledge of the local tongue, you can communicate better with the local people and make real and meaningful connections. You are more likely to win the appreciation and confidence of the locals. They in turn would be more inclined to recommend or guide you to sights, scenes, and experiences only they know of, and which would gain you a deeper insight into the local culture. Language, after all, is akin to a window into culture.
4. Taste new cuisines
One of the greatest appeals of traveling is the opportunity to discover new foods and taste diverse cuisines. After all, every city offers a unique taste, and every country prides itself in at least one special dish, from Algeria’s couscous, Brazil’s feijoada, France’s pot-au-feu, India’s samosa, Mexico’s chile en nogada, the Philippines’ adobo, Thailand’s pad thai, Sweden’s köttbullar, to Zambia’s nshima. Each trip can introduce you to a new recipe, each journey can open a whole world of new flavors.
Travel is a delight not just for your eyes, but for your palate, too. You need not be a gastronome, bon vivant, connoisseur, gourmand, epicure, foodie, or be in any way engaged in culinary travel to appreciate the local cuisine. You can drop by a local café to get acquainted with new and authentic flavors. You can tour the local food market to see the ingredients to popular native recipes. You can venture into the streets, stop every now and then at a cart, stall, or kiosk, and sample local delicacies peddled as street foods.
The local cuisine can tell you much about the local culture. Hamburgers are indicative of the fast and frantic life in the vast metropolises of the United States, particularly in New York City. The artisan breads, rare cheeses, and excellent wines of France reflect the French’s deep love for fine food. The pelmeni of Siberia can be preserved frozen for a long time, but is cooked easily and quickly, making it an ideal provision for hunters or explorers embarking on long expeditions into the taiga. The abundance of rice cake recipes in the Philippines manifests the significance of rice in Filipino culture.
Travel is one strategy for collecting new recipes, ingredients, and cooking techniques, which you can bring home and experiment with in your own kitchen. Not only do you vastly enhance your culinary skills, you also get to keep tokens of your voyages. So every time you miss being back in Japan, you can cook your own ramen recipe to soothe your yearning. When you reminisce about your journeys in Vietnam, do so while savoring your very own homemade pho.
5. Discover career opportunities
Travel is often seen as the ultimate escape from the tedious routines of life, particularly from the monotony of work.
However, travel can also afford you numerous career opportunities. A trip to a different city can inspire you to seek employment there. A journey to a foreign country can influence you to find work overseas. The people you meet on the road may turn out to be your next employees, employers, or even business partners!
Travel expands your knowledge and enhances your creativity and problem-solving ability. It enables you to improve your existing skills and learn new ones, which can help you further your position in your current work, or broaden your options when seeking a career change.
The hours you spend on planning trips, putting together itineraries, poring over travel magazines and blogs to find the perfect destinations, scouring hotel and airline websites for the best deals, choosing what to pack and how, and figuring out everything from time zones to currency exchange rates to bus routes develop your organization and decision-making skills. You learn effective planning and research, prudent budgeting, and efficient time management, among others, which are skills sought after in any workplace.
The new languages you learn during your sojourns in foreign countries widen your employment opportunities across geographical barriers. The different cultures you immerse yourself in, and your interactions with diverse people, improve your social skills and deepen your cultural sensitivity, ensuring that you are able to perform well in the modern multicultural workplace.
The challenges you confront on the road develop your resourcefulness, creativity, and problem-solving skills, enabling you to think of novel and innovative solutions to complex tasks demanded by your work. Those same challenges also strengthen your endurance to stress, allowing you to maintain high performance even under pressure.
Travel can also kindle your entrepreneurial spirit. New ideas and technologies acquired from foreign places can offer profitable opportunities to provide solutions to existing problems at home. Similarly, ideas and technologies from home can be turned into lucrative ventures and offer solutions to the needs of other countries.
In fact, travel itself can be made into a living. You can document your adventures and publish them through written stories, photos, or videos. You can partner with hotels, airlines, travel agencies, and even governments to fund your excursions. You can sell travel guides, and even start your own travel agency.
6. Improve social skills
Travel is an exceptional opportunity to develop your social skills. On the road, you are likely to meet many more people than at home. You have the chance to share experiences and build relationships with a wider range of people of diverse ethnicities, languages, cultures, and religions. From locals to fellow travelers, your interactions enhance your communication skills and heighten your cultural awareness and sensitivity.
The very act of traveling puts you in situations where you have little choice but to move out of your comfort zone and socialize, even if you are not the sociable type. Of course, you can still decide to keep to yourself at all times, but you are almost guaranteed a dull and unfulfilling experience, especially if you are traveling alone!
To be fair, however, initiating conversations with strangers is a daunting prospect, particularly if you are not used to it. Fortunately, you may find it easier to interact with people when you are traveling than you would at home. The people you meet on the road have no knowledge of who you are and have little incentive to prejudge you. Thus, they are likely to be more welcoming and helpful.
This is especially true for your fellow travelers, who are in the same situation as you. They are likely looking forward to trying new experiences and meeting new people, and are bound to socialize at the first opportunity. Interacting with them not only helps improve your social skills, you also get the chance to pick up travel companions, make new friends, and gain valuable travel insight and information.
Socializing with locals is also crucial and brings numerous benefits. You have the opportunity to develop your ability to understand and be understood across language and cultural barriers. You can also learn new languages, make new friends, and have a more fulfilling experience.
Besides, travel makes you a more interesting person. Not only do you build your confidence and improve the way you interact with people, you also turn into a great storyteller. Every time you come home from a trip, you have at least one story worth telling, which can make for interesting conversations. From that time you went trekking in the Amazon rainforest, freediving in Belize’s Great Blue Hole, surfing in Siargao’s Cloud 9 in the Philippines, temple-hopping in Thailand, to hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey, people will want to hear more of your adventures. Who wouldn’t, anyway?
7. Enhance creativity
Your mind is bounded by the familiar. When faced with the usual problems, you can readily come up with the usual solutions. When confronted by the unusual, however, you struggle to make sense of the problem at hand, and find it more difficult to think of novel and creative solutions in response.
Creativity is the brain’s ability to piece together stored information in extraordinary ways to come up with novel and original ideas, often in answer to problems previously unencountered.
Creativity is more of a skill than a talent. Like other skills, it can be learned and enhanced, but often not through traditional means. Creativity comes from having an open and curious mind – receptive to new perspectives and possibilities, and willing to explore, experiment, and take risks.
Travel, by its very nature, opens the mind, and thus fosters creativity. It affords you distance – both physical and psychological – from your routine life, gaining your brain respite from its customary and constrained way of thinking. This mental break allows you to look at the usual things in a fresh and detached perspective, and oftentimes leads to creative breakthroughs to problems you have been struggling to figure out.
With travel comes new stimuli – new sights, sounds, smells, sensations, and otherwise – that spark different synapses in your brain, enlivening the mind and enabling more creative thinking.
When you travel, you are confronted with unique challenges that you would not normally encounter at home. Navigating your way back to your hotel through a maze of unfamiliar streets, figuring out bus routes and schedules in a foreign city, struggling to understand and be understood across a language barrier, and making sense of unusual cultural customs – unique problems demand unique solutions. You are forced to rise to the challenge and become resourceful, particularly when your survival is at risk.
Moreover, exposure to, immersion in, and engagement with a different culture allow you to view the world in a different perspective, and afford you new and valuable insights. These experiences encourage your mind to move beyond its familiar confines and consider other possibilities. You realize that there might not be one valid way of thinking after all, that a single thing may have multiple meanings, and that one problem can have many solutions.
8. Overcome fears
Travel can be frightening. It forces you out of your comfort zone. It puts you in situations where your fears are most apparent. The moment you decide to take a trip, you usher in a veritable world of worries, uncertainties, and whatnot. The moment you step out of your door, you step into the unknown. You find yourself in unfamiliar ground, where everything is new, foreign, and intimidating, and where sometimes even your survival is at stake.
But to travel is to overcome your fears. Fear of the outside world, other people, foreign cultures and strange customs, unusual foods, being separated from the comforts of your home, being alone and lonely on the road, being lost and stranded in unknown territory – whatever agitations and anxieties keep you up at night and keep you from living your best life, travel is one way to overcome them.
Travel teaches you. It teaches you to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings, interact with foreign people, and consider other cultures with an open mind. It teaches you to be creative, resourceful, and decisive when challenges and difficulties confront you. It teaches you to be flexible and versatile when things go wrong and even your best-laid plans go awry. It teaches you to take things as they come, to surrender to things beyond your control. It teaches you to be independent, self-reliant, and to trust in your own judgement, particularly when you’re traveling alone.
Travel tests you. It challenges not only your physical endurance, but your mental fortitude and emotional resilience. Sometimes it pushes you to your uttermost and beyond, and only then do you realize how strong you actually are.
Travel changes you – physically, mentally, emotionally. And when you come through, you realize you are capable of things you never knew of. You realize that you are no longer the same. After all that you’ve been through, you realize that you are no longer afraid.
9. Find happiness
The pursuit of happiness has long been the chief concern and occupation of humankind. It is the subject of our ceaseless attention and fascination, as well as our frustration. We seek happiness both as an end, the ultimate goal of life, and as a means, the ultimate way of living.
If you’re searching for happiness, then traveling might just help you find it. After all, travel is a break from routine. It’s your chance to escape from the stress of daily living. It’s your opportunity to relax, unwind, and take your mind off things that keep you worried and exhausted. It’s your moment to be you. Sure, travel has its own hassles and inconveniences, but all that seem trivial when compared to the thrill and excitement of being somewhere new, far, and away from your soul-sucking nine-to-five for once.
The new sensations you derive from traveling, like seeing breathtaking sights, experiencing exciting adventures, meeting new people and making new friends, and tasting unique foods, can bring you such joys you have never felt before. Successfully climbing your first mountain, skydiving for the first time, or setting foot on the thirtieth country on your bucket list are all thrilling experiences that make you feel alive. And once the travel bug bites you, you will always be looking forward to your next trip.
But beyond its power to induce brief moments of joy and excitement, travel can bring you lasting happiness. Travel enriches your life. It makes you stronger, open-minded, more confident, and self-reliant. It brings you wholesome and wonderful benefits that make you a wiser and happier person for the rest of your years. The stories and experiences you have are memories for life.
There will come a time when your youth fades and your strength wanes, when you will finally feel too old to travel, and all that you’re left with are memories of your journeys. And in that moment you will think of all the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, the adventures you’ve had on the road ten, twenty, fifty years ago.
And the images will come rushing back, startlingly clear and colorful as if they were only from yesterday – vivid scenes, bright smiles, resonant sounds, and brilliant eyes. You will look back at all the experiences you had, and regardless of whether those were good or bad, you will feel glad that you took the time to travel and went out and saw the world.
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