I’ve been asked hundreds of times as to why I like to travel so much. To be perfectly honest, I’m not actually sure. I can imagine there are hundreds of reasons, maybe thousands, why I spend so much time out of state or out of the country and, my answer is constantly changing. Each time I set out has a different purpose or significance. I mean, I guess I could make some sort of organic list that would be in a perpetual state of change, as to what makes me do it, but hat seems a bit preposterous. Is it a wanderlust? Maybe. Is it “for the adventure”? Probably. Is it that I actually enjoy being in uncomfortable situations or just want to be away from the monotony of the “every day”? Absolutely. Or, it could be all of those reasons and none of them at the same time. Every trip I take, every plane I board, every passport stamp, every new person I meet, every foreign language I have to figure out is a new and completely different experience from the last. Maybe its the constant variation in plans, environments, and experiences that calls to me. What ever it is for me, will more than likely, not be the same for you. The beauty of being human is that we are all basically the same (biologically at least), yet so completely different from one other. I think that we are truly defined by our experiences and our views of the world making us differ greatly, which is one of the many reasons I am so infatuated with the the human spirit.
If you would, please indulge me and have a read of my humble list of “13 Reasons You Should Travel” (I don’t believe in unlucky numbers). Remember, these are just my observations and insights, not to be taken as fact. I almost always travel alone, I prefer it, so I made this list for those who travel solo. However, most will apply to those who are couples or travel in a group.
Hopefully with this list I can inspire you to get out of your flat linear life; that has been stuffed into board meetings and car payments to get out and see the 360° of this beautiful world we all call home. Soooo…wheels up and Lets Get Weird!
1. It’s not nearly as hard as you think.
You are your own worst enemy. Your brain will talk your heart out of (or into) just about anything. Most people think that it’s impossible to travel and envy me for all that I do. It’s really not that hard. You just have to convince yourself that. For starters, the internet is a wealth of knowledge for travelers. Blogs, websites and forums are almost always free, not to mention I have yet to meet a traveler who isn’t willing to help out in every way they can. Quite the opposite actually, as most vagabonds (myself included) love to talk to people about their travels and what they have learned and pass on information to the next would be jet setter. If you are thinking about dabbling in the world of wanderlust have a good surf through the interwebs. You’ll be surprised at the amount of (FREE) info that is out there. If you are like me and have a thing with tangible objects then hop on amazon or go to your local book store and get some travel guides. I have quite the collection myself.
A real good place to start would be lonelyplanet.com It’s a great website full of info on all things travel. Great travel guides as well, I mean, I have probably 20 of them.
There is no established, accredited school on the planet that can teach you about life like the school of wanderlust.
2. It’ll change your perspective.
You’ll view the world in a completely different light. You’ll see first hand that how things are done in foreign countries, is not necessarily what you are force fed from media and other outside sources. You’ll notice that the poorest people, the people with “nothing” are some of the richest people in the world. You’ll live off of nothing. No air conditioning, warm beer, walking / riding a bike everywhere, no ice, no wifi and bad or no plumbing will be just some of the things you’ll experience. Some of our daily amenities seem normal for us but for other places those things are luxuries (even in some “First world” countries). Having everything you own, your whole life in a backpack and in your pockets, will make you appreciate what you have back home, or make you realize that you don’t need all the nonsense and “stuff” to lead a happy fulfilling life. When you get home it’ll seem a bit arbitrary to have all the crap you own after you get to meet and live with people who have nothing, yet seem to have everything, at least everything they will ever need.
2. It’ll make you more patient.
Waiting in lines, sitting at train stops, walking everywhere instead of getting in your car to drive. This all sounds awful but it really teaches you to slow down your life and be in the moment. We are all part of the “Walmart Generation” where we have been groomed into expecting everything exactly how we want it, when we want it for the cheapest price. Everything is so generic and automated because we are so submerged in our jobs, our TV shows, phones and Social Media that we forget to stop and just be. Just for a moment. As soon as there is any type of lull in our day we go directly to the distraction on our pockets or we get super annoyed that it’s taking longer than expected. When you travel you aren’t always in control, well in reality, you hardly ever are. It is however, quite liberating (in my opinion) to not be in control, to not have a responsibility, other than just being alive. Speaking for myself, being a “type A” traveling has had a tremendous impact on my tolerance for things I can’t control. I’m not completely cured….but I am getting better.
4. You’ll learn things about yourself.
Spending ridiculous hours alone on trains, boats, and other transportation services or hostels without wifi, you’ll get a chance to do some real self-reflection. You won’t be distracted by phones, TVs, radios or even sometimes other people, so you be left alone with just you and your thoughts (terrifying huh?) You’ll also learn how you will react to situations; like being lost in a foreign country (I get lost all the time, its all part of the experience), not being able to eat the food you are used to, not hearing your native language, or my favorite, being in a room full of people you don’t know. You will survive all of those and you will be much more confident in your life back home.
5. You’ll eat food like you have never known.
We have such a deep connection with food. I know I do. It’s our fuel, it’s our life…but it’s also more than that. It’s a bond that bridges all gaps, races, cultures, creeds, even species. There might be significant differences in preparation, content and distribution of food across all the cultures of the world, the relationship with it and its people are the same. We ALL love food. You’ll be forced to eat foods that you would never eat back home. The ole adage: “When in Rome” comes to mind. Some, you probably won’t ever eat again like scorpions in Thailand, haggis in Scotland or nattō in Japan. Most will seem weird but you’ll be surprised more often than not, at how amazing food can be even in the oddest of places. Weather it be from street cart in Malaysia or fresh fish off of a boat in Costa Rica, for the most incredible explosions of flavor or you might just get something that makes you want to put a bums foot in your mouth, it’ll always be an experience that you’ll never forget.
6. It’ll make you feel smaller.
At home you may have a group of friends, co-workers and family to pay attention to you. You have animals that are excited to see you when you get home. You are constantly acknowledged by the things around you. Even your phone knows your name. When you are traveling you have none of that. You are just a spec on the map. You will only exist to yourself and it will feel amazing.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” – Mark Twain
7. You’ll become a student of the world.
There is no established, accredited school on the planet that can teach you about life like the school of wanderlust. You’ll learn about currency exchange, time management, cultural studies, social skills, foreign languages and all the different foods (home economics?). You’ll learn about the metric system, 24hr time, how to use chop sticks or ride a camel and learn to surf. You’ll learn to be tolerant to other cultures, religions and customs. All these things you can inject into your life back home. Nothing can get you ready for life than spending time in another country.
8. It’ll challenge you.
No matter how well you plan your trip, something can always take an unexpected turn. Flights get cancelled, you’ll miss a train, luggage gets lost, accommodations fall through, etc. Over time you’ll learn how to adapt to those unavoidable situations. Luckily, things always seem to work themselves out. You may end up having to change plans completely and have an even better time! You’ll take all these experiences and some added confidence back with you and apply them to your life back home.
9. You’ll become a “Story Teller”.
“this one time when I was in…” will be become a common saying for you. It won’t be out of arrogance though. You’ll be visiting places that most only get to see in movies and pictures. You’ll meet all kinds of different people from all over the world and you won’t be able to wait to tell everyone about your adventures. Everytime you tell your stories they will get more elaborate as you will remember more details each time. I mean, who doesn’t want to be like the Dos Equis Guy?
10. You’ll learn other languages.
One of the more challenging obstacles in traveling is being in a country that doesn’t speak your native language. It can be quite scary and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be exciting and a lot of fun to learn another language. Before you leave, get a phrase book of some kind (Lonely Planet makes great pocket phrase books) and/or get an app for the country you are visiting. Try to learn some common phrases like “Hello, Thank you, excuse me, please, 1-10…etc” Don’t be afraid to use them with locals. You WILL mispronounce them and that’s ok. The fact that you are even trying speaks volumes, and they will appreciate it. Plus, they will think it’s funny when you butcher phrases and you’ll bond with them instantly as they correct you and probably make fun of you, just a little.
11. Memories are more important than possessions.
You can’t take any of your “things” with you to the afterlife (or where/what ever you believe in). Someone will buy your TV or your car making it not yours any longer and will disappear into time. All the time and money put into material things is completely futile. Your memories however, will forever be yours and by sharing them will last forever, essentially making you live forever. Woah that was deep. #gingerbuddah
12. You’ll make lasting relationships.
Meeting people when traveling is much easier than it is at home, trying to strike up a conversation with someone at the grocery store, on a train or at the bar. Just the fact that you are from a different country will make people more receptive to chatting with you. They’ll be interested in learning about where you are from and what your life is like back home (yes, even being from America. Believe it or not, the world doesn’t hate us. They mostly don’t understand us and it’s our responsibility to show them that we can be amazing, thoughtful, loving, tolerant and fun). If you use websites like couchsurfing.com or you stay in hostels (I like hostelworld.com), you’ll meet other travelers and like minded people that you already have tons of things in common with. You’ll share traveling stories and mishaps over a beer or just hanging in the common areas. The more you travel the larger your “network” will become and before you know it you will have friends all over the world to meet up with when in their home country, or they’ll have someone to hangout with if they visit your hometown.
13. It’ll make you a better Human.
Feel free to leave me a comment on what you think a good reason for traveling is. Let’s talk about your experiences! Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE!!