Traveling is not only fun and exciting, but it can also help make us better individuals and better global citizens.
Read on to see why you should travel as much as possible.
1. To Learn About Other Cultures
If we never leave our hometowns, it's difficult to escape the pre-conceived notions we learn regarding other cultures. Getting out of our home countries and getting to know people from other countries force us to realize that though we may have differences in fashion, food, religion, etc., we are actually more alike than we are different.
2. To Expand Your Worldview
When we learn about other cultures and religions, and you learn the history of different countries and peoples, we are able to step back and see our worldviews from a wider perspective and through the lens of higher knowledge, allowing us to evaluate our views and prejudices and to make adjustments as needed.
3. To Discover Different Culinary Delights
I'm a foodie. So is my husband. So when we travel, we love to try new cuisines. We seek out local restaurants that serve local foods. And we avoid places like McDonalds like the plague. And though we sometimes encounter a new food that's a bit of a "swing and a miss," most of the time, when we ask the folks at the little mom and pop places to bring us their most popular dishes, we are not disappointed. Travel to expand your palate.
4. To Learn History
Marvin can attest to the fact that if there is an old church, I will want to tour it. If there is a a museum, especially one with a unique genre or hyper-local history, I will want to browse the collections. If there is a street with a number of historical buildings, I will want to wander that street admiring the architecture. Sometimes the things we learn from history are heavy and sad; sometimes they are light-hearted and amusing. But always they are important.
5. To Learn How to Read Maps and How to Navigate Train Stations, Subway Systems, and Airports
These is such important life skills! Unfortunately, in the age of Google Maps, many young people are not learning these skills.
Gone is the time of road trips in which one person is the designated navigator, shouting out "Turn left here!" just as the vehicle passes the road onto which you were supposed to turn. But when you are in another country, Google Maps may not always be available, or may not be updated as well. Even if you plan ahead and download the turn-by-turn directions, you still need to know how to find the road signs and how to read the downloaded map. And what happens when you arrive at a closed road? You need to know how to improvise!
Subway maps, airport signs, and train station timetables are equally important. And the great thing is that, once you master one subway map, you can transfer that knowledge to quickly figure out any other subway map.
In a metaphorical sense, being able to read a road map, a subway map, and airport and train signage helps to give a sense of balance and a feeling of being grounded. If you know where you are physically, you can better understand where you are emotionally and spiritually.
6. To Gain Knowledge
In addition to learning history and culture - the social sciences - travel also helps you learn geography and new languages. Even learning just the basics in another language - "hello," "good-bye," and "thank you," - will improve your travel experience. Furthermore, Health Navigator New Zealand found that learning new things helps to improve your brain function. As we get older, it's important to do what we can do ward off dementia. Traveling - learning new places, honing our geography skills, and learning a new language - will aid in keeping our brains sharp. Want to take it a step further? Take a cooking class in Italy, get your SCUBA certification in Honduras, or take surfing lessons in Hawaii.
7. To Gain Self-Confidence and Independence
Getting outside our comfort zone forces us to prove to ourselves just how capable we are. As we learn new skills, like languages and map-reading, we gain the confidence to continue to learn and to try new things, expanding our knowledge and abilities with each new accomplishment.
8. To see the extraordinary in the ordinary
I've written about this phenomenon before in Travel's Effortless Novelty, and the ideas remain true. Even everyday tasks, when done in an unfamiliar place, are extraordinary. Cooking takes on a new dimension when we're cooking with ingredients we can't find at home, or when we have carefully selected them at a local farmer's market. The simple pleasure of taking a walk is so much more interesting in unfamiliar surroundings. Travel to find the everyday extraordinary.
9. To Learn to Deal with Stressful Situations
When we travel, things don't always go as planned. You can read about some of the things that have gone (sometimes hilariously) wrong for us during our travels in Top 12 Travel Bloopers. But dealing with unexpected problems while traveling helps us deal with the stressful situations we deal with in everyday life. It also helps us learn from those stressful situations to be better prepared next time.
10. To Meet Wonderful People
Travel to meet wonderful people, whether they are fellow travelers or locals. During our travels, we have met a number of people whom we will never forget, and several who have become lifelong friends. I am reminded of a sweet local couple from Belgium, a family of four from the Seattle area we met while traveling in China, a particularly amiable customs officer in Ireland, and our AirBNB hosts in the Tampa area and in Havana. Emily Henry wrote about the importance of the connections with fellow humans that we make while traveling in People We Meet on Vacation. Those connections are, hands-down, the best part of travel.
We named our son Emmett, which means "universal." We want him to love everyone in the world and to be an compassionate global citizen. We want him to experience unique cultures and foods, to gain knowledge, and to learn skills that are best learned while traveling. We have already started traveling with him, and will continue to take him to as many countries as we possibly can throughout his years with us.
What are your reasons for extended travel?
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