We travel for different reasons, whether it is for holidays, business or adventure. Although any reason is good to pack your bag and escape, the most benefits I noticed were from my living abroad experiences but also when I simply became more mindful during my travels. Here are five reasons how travel changes you as a person.
1. You see things from a different perspective
When you see how other people live, especially in disadvanteged areas in developping countries, it changes your perspective about your own life. You become more thankful for simpliest joys of life and more appreciative of who and where you are today. People who have less, seem more joyful. You see injustice but you also notice a genuine smile on a child’s face playing outside with a balloon regardless having the latest toys. This is such a good lesson of awarness and humility.
When I was in Cuba, I sat on a bench in a park in Santiago de Cuba next to an elderly Cuban lady. We started a conversation and she asked me out of the blue if I had a pen or a soap on me that I could kindly donate to her. I was surprised that she asked for such things and not for money. She wanted the pen for her grandson for school. In Cuba, people lack essentials since the importation is banned there and there is almost no industry. It made me value simple things more that we often take for granted in our everyday lives.
2. You become more resilient and adapt better to change
Anywhere you go, there will always be situations that are completely different to what you are used to. Every country has its culture, customs, climate, food,… We deliberately (or not) are stepping into something unknown, something that seems exciting and new. Every person lives his or her own experience differently, yet it is worth to make an effort to understand a given culture, try to step into someone else’s shoes. Deeper understanding is so much rewarding and enhances the experience rather than giving up at the first obstacle we encounter. Our minds are used to a classic pattern that we follow in our every day beaten paths, yet it is important to sometimes push our boundaries and do things that frighten us as it strenghtens our character.
When I travelled to China where I spent one year learning Mandarin and Chinese culture as a part of my year abroad at uni, I wanted to go back home the moment I arrived ! I remember the tropical humidity combined with the heat, were unbearable. Shanghai was feeling overwhelming and everything just felt so different. However, after several months I got so used to living there, I found my favourite food and spots to hang out that for some time I was even considering moving there for longer period of time. Chinese people seem reserved but their joy of hearing you speak Mandarin and making the effort is priceless. Even a simple “Ni hao” makes them shiver with joy and they encourage you by saying that your Mandarin is perfectly good. It had such a cheering effect on my language learning skills that I graduated uni with a distinction in spoken Mandarin 🙂
3. You value experiences over things
Once you taste the adventure, you want more of it. You are ticking off places that you visited and are making bucket lists for the trips to come. Travelling becomes a way of life. When you finally understand the reward that travel gives you, it has a profound impact on your soul. Admiring sunrises and sunsets in Saint Martin, being surrounded by thousands of crabs on the road in Cuba, volunteering in Siem Reap, hiking a glacier in Iceland, swimming in a waterfall in Jamaica, all these experiences are priceless ! Beyond a stamp in your passport, every experience equals a stamp on your heart.
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
4. You become fearless by stepping out of your comfort zone
Sometimes life will put you on a path that you didn’t predict. You will be faced in front of challenging situations. When I moved to Paris without prior knowledge of French, I was left with no choice but to learn it to stay with my love and to build my career. I decided to only speak French even if it meant communicating using 2 sentences in the beginning. It was painful, but worth the effort as all my achievements were beyond my expectations. Because all progress takes place outside the comfort zone.
Once you taste how empowering it is to be rewarded after an effort, you will deliberately want to step out of your comfort zone. We should strive to get challenged every now and then to build up our physical and mental strengths. It is essential for our growth. You don’t need to move to another country and learn a foreign language though 🙂 What about a roadtrip in Iceland to succomb to and be challenged by the power of nature ?
5. You embrace different ways of life and thus become kinder and more respectful
When we travel, we are guests in foreign countries. The code of conduct is important and we shall leave a good impression behind. We behave in more respectful way as we are cautious not to mistreat any tradition and say or do something inappropriate. As a result, the more we travel, the more tolerant, respectful and kind we become towards other cultures and people. We become world citizens. We create bonds, plant our healthy grain and who knows, maybe even make friends.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s ok. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves markes on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain