Everyone keeps saying how important it is to travel. So what's all this fuss about? Why do people travel and love traveling?
More importantly: why should we travel more?
The benefits of traveling are not just a one-time thing: traveling changes you physically and psychologically. Having little time or money isn't a valid excuse. You can fly for cheap very easily. If you have a full-time job and a family, you can still travel on the weekends or holidays, even with a baby.
With the coronavirus pandemic hitting the world hard, 2020 has been a tough year for travel - to say the least. And so was 2021. But don't let that discourage you from making travel plans in 2022!
Here are some of the main benefits of traveling, in case you need convincing. And I'm sure that once you get started, you'll find some more yourself!
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1. Traveling Improves Your Health
From cutting down on stress, to lowering your chances of developing a heart disease, the health benefits of traveling are huge.
You may stay sitting on a chair all day long at the workplace: including some walking to your trip is sure to make your body feel better. For some people, wandering abroad is even a cure for depression and anxiety. Of course, it's not a foolproof cure, but it might help you feel better, both physically and psychologically. At the very least, it should reduce stress.
Traveling more is likely to have a tremendous impact on your mental health, especially if you're no used to going out of your comfort zone.
Trust me: travel more and your doctor will be happy. Reducing stress has been proven to decrease risks of having a heart attack. Be sure to get in touch with your physician, they might recommend some medication to accompany you in your travels, especially if you're heading to regions of the globe with potentially dangerous diseases.
2. Traveling Lets You Disconnect From Your Daily Life
This is closely related to my previous point. We tend to get so caught up in our everyday lives that sometimes, by simply sticking around, we may do ourselves more harm than good.
Your boss is taking over your life?
Kids are driving you mad?
Your parents are trying to make you live the life they want?
How long do you think you can handle this pressure before you burst and everything falls apart?
Sometimes it is best to take a step back, take a deep breath and take go that Tower Bridge selfie. In all seriousness, international travel is not a bad option - it is the most natural way of inducing the feeling you miss someone or that you are missed.
3. Traveling Makes You Smarter
Get used to picking up new words in a different language every time you travel and you will see improvements in your brain capacities, as Dan Roitman wrote in the Huffington Post. If only this, start getting familiar with travel jargon.
Even more than "just" languages, traveling helps you learn about yourself.
You might run into challenging situations where you need to be resourceful and think differently. I'm sure that you will develop a new set of skills that you didn't suspect you had within you.
4. Traveling Improves Your Understanding Of Other Cultures
Why we travel may differ from one person to another, but people traveling always develop empathy and a deeper understanding of other cultures.
Language barriers become insignificant. Being more understanding and tolerant about a new culture different than ours is part of being smarter, but I consider it as a benefits of traveling in itself.
There is a quote by Saint Augustine, which goes “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”.
You could think of it this way:
If you read what's in the news or watch the news on TV and don't question it, you're missing on a ton of information. You might think that it makes you smarter and more aware of the world, but it's the exact opposite: it narrows your mind to a unique and biased perspective.
Sure, you probably feel comfortable where you are, but that is just a fraction of the world! If you are traveling as a student, take advantage of programs such as Erasmus to get to know more people, experience and understand different cultures in a foreign country.
Dare traveling to regions you have a skeptical opinion about. I bet that you will change your mind and realize that everything is not so bad abroad.
Have you ever had a delayed or canceled flight? You could be entitled to up to 600€ from the airline!
5. Traveling Makes You More Interesting
I have no doubt that you're quite the conversationalist. That being said, including a few stories from abroad is likely to grant you even more attention. Mentioning something that most people aren't familiar with or bring a new perspective is always a good way to shine in a social situation. No need to write a whole travel essay, just discuss what you've seen and where you've been: people who are accustomed to their daily life will travel with your words.
During my trip to Egypt, my Airbnb host and I went out for dinner. He had been to some many different places, the conversation lasted all night long, and I wasn't bored for one minute.
Who do you think people want to listen to: the guy who spent his vacations at home doing some gardening and reading the newspaper, or the one who spent a week in Cuba, driving an old American car, swimming with dolphins and tasting deliciously spicy food?
I know which story I want to hear about...
6. Traveling Allows You To Try Amazing Food
Speaking of food, I bet you're one hell of a chef and your home meals are delicious. But there is no such thing as trying a typical local dish from another country.
Don't trick yourself into going to the Sushi shop next door: you don't know what sushi tastes like until you've been to Japan.
As you travel, you discover the real thing, and discover that it's usually very different from what you're used to. So travel and try new food with your new friends!
Eating local food in a new country is an entirely new experience. All the flavors are different. Here me out: I'm French and I love our local recipes. You do too. But let's not kid ourselves: some change would be more than welcome in our daily diet. If only because we're naturally curious.
Some food bloggers travel thousands of kilometers for a specific dish! The least you can do is travel to the next region and try something new.
7. Traveling Makes You Feel Like An Adventurer
Despite the fact that the world has never been as well connected as today, there are still places that are little known to the average tourist. Setting up a list of places you want to visit is extremely motivating. You have something tangible to go after.
I'm currently working on my own bucket list, and I think I'll never see the end of it, with all these amazing travel destinations.
The benefit of traveling to a new place here is that it forces you to face the unknown and think differently. You don't need to go spend a month in the jungle! If you live in a large city, just going on a hike over the weekend will make you feel different.
Adventures require novelty, so get out of your comfort zone. It might be scary, but in retrospect, you'll see it as the best decision you ever made!
8. Traveling Expands Your (Real) Social Network
Believe it or not, social networks was once like a real thing - in real life. Crazy, I know. One of the main reasons why I love traveling is that I believe that establishing connections and building a network abroad is one of the smartest things you can do in today’s world.
It is sometimes hard to build long-lasting relationship with the people you meet abroad, but it doesn't mean it's not worth meeting new people!
Take this example:
A few years ago, I spent New Year's Eve in Tanzania. I slept for two days at the flat of an Egyptian expat. I met him on Couchsurfing, which was once one of the best ways to find cheap accommodation when you travel. A year later, this guy invited me to his wedding in Egypt! How amazing is that?!
(It truly was, by the way.)
Some connections you make over your travels are surprisingly strong.
9. Traveling Let you Create Lifetime Memories
My grandfather was an amazing story-teller and he used to tell me stories of the trips he made when he was younger.
One of my favorites is how he tried eating with chopsticks in China for the first time. He regretted not traveling more as a young man. Years later, he still remembered everything in details: because traveling made a real impression on him. And it probably will on you too.
No matter how insignificant it may seem, the fact that you've had an experience abroad, something that was out of the ordinary, creates a memory that you will remember for a long time.
I think that creating those memories is why many people keep traveling.
10. Traveling Makes You Love Your Home Even More
“The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back”. You will truly understand the meaning of those words by Wendy Wunder, only upon your return home.
On the one hand, it would seem that you’re back where you started, same setting, same people, same problems. Yet you’re not the same - you’re new, full of new knowledge and ideas!
I know that I was getting bored after living my whole life in the same place. I needed to get out, I need a change of scene. I was focusing only the negative: how there isn't much to do around, how you always meet the same people, how nothing changes.
Now, when I come home, I'm glad about all of this and I see only the positive.
Final Words On the Benefits of Traveling
I hope that this travel article makes you want to travel more in 2021 (and beyond!). As you travel, you realize that the world is a much better place than what you can see on TV when watching the news.
There is a quote by Mark Twain that I love: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.” Cliché as this may sound, the money you spend on travel, is an investment in yourself. Travel doesn't make you feel as bad for spending money.
(Actually, you could even make money traveling)
And one last benefit of traveling: it might provide some money when your flight is disrupted!
Did you know that you could get up to 600€ in compensation when your flight is delayed by at least 3 hours or cancelled?