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Traveling can be a lot of things. Magical, eye-opening, adventurous, and also challenging, scary, and stressful. If you’re erring on the possible downside of travel, let me tell you that all of the possible unknowns are absolutely worth it and then some!
While everyone travels for various reasons, there are takeaways that apply to all travel, no matter the end experience goal. I am a firm believer that travel can change your life. It allows you to experience new cultures and people, see new things, and allow yourself to take in all of what the world has to offer.
And with that, here is my list of why you should take the plunge, and book that trip right now!
Memories last longer than things
Think of a toy you had when you were growing up. Do you still have that toy? If not, where did it go? Now, stop and realize that while you may not physically have that toy anymore, you still have memories with that toy.
How about a time when you wanted to go somewhere but were worried that you’d be too tired at work, or that you had too much on your to-do list that you decided to skip the trip to get a few things done. What were those things? Do you remember that specific day you were tired at work? The answer is likely ‘no.’ You’re not likely to remember being tired or the errands you ran – what you will remember are the memories that you created on that adventure you almost skipped.
Now, take a look at the photo above. This is a photo of the magnificent Notre Dame from my trip to Paris in 2018. Parts of this building no longer exist due to a fire a few years ago. Had I hesitated and not booked my trip, I may never have gotten to see this magnificent cathedral in all of its true beauty.
Stop hesitating. There’s a chance that you’ll miss many opportunities if you don’t take the leap and get out there. Things don’t last forever but memories will last you a lifetime.
Eye-opening cultural experiences
Visiting new destinations and learning about local culture and traditions helps to bridge the physical distance between all of us. When you learn about a new culture, you are allowing yourself to be open to new perspectives. You will see how there are multiple ways to accomplish a task, learn new societal norms, and enhance your global awareness.
You can see in the photo above, a tannery in Morocco. The workers physically dye each piece of leather in one of these beautiful colors before it gets turned into a jacket, bag, or even a chair. There is no machinery at work here. All physical labor, in the heat, with the smells, creating handmade items. Can you think of anything like this where you live?
By learning about other people and places, you are helping to bridge the physical distance between all of us, and helping to make the world a little smaller and a lot more connected.
Sense of self
I’ve never had a trip that built up my self confidence and help me find my sense of self more than my solo trip to Amsterdam and Portugal. While I was there for work, I planned a multi-country trip on my own. Flights, hotels, transportation in two countries where English isn’t a first language, public transportation, a national holiday and many, many meetings with locals.
I was able to explore both Lisbon in Portugal and Amsterdam in The Netherlands in my down time. I was able to literally do whatever I wanted. Eat when I was hungry, check out interesting shops as I walked by, visit the sites that I wanted to see, and even use the bathroom whenever I wanted without feeling like I was bothering someone to stop somewhere. I didn’t have to compromise on anything except with myself.
I am so proud for making myself explore these new cities when I was extremely nervous and could have easily stayed ‘safe’ in my hotel (both of these destinations were lovely and I never felt unsafe). I learned that I’m braver than I thought I was. That I’m resourceful. That I’m capable. And that I’m curious about the world. I’ve always loved travel, but this trip definitely re-ignited the travel bug that has been slowly festering inside of me.
When you travel, you will learn so much about yourself. Likes, dislikes, fears, what your personal challenges are – and how you’ll feel the urge to overcome those fears and push through to create memories and have amazing experiences. You don’t even have to travel internationally to make these discoveries – start small – go on a staycation somewhere nearby, by yourself.
You’ll learn that by making these plans alone, you don’t have to compromise, that you can discover your likes, and your likes alone without a partner, family member or friend influencing your decisions. You’ll uncover what you truly yearn for and what your soul needs.
You’ll go outside your comfort zone
The photo above was taken at sunrise on the top of Masada in Israel. This was one of the most challenging excursions I’ve been on while traveling. I am absolutely not a morning person, to the point where I stay pretty nauseous for a few hours until I hit my normal wakeup time. I am also not an avid hiker.
This trip was a hike straight up the mountain, at four in the morning, and of course, I was the slowest. I had to take numerous breaks to stop and catch my breath, wanted to stop and turn around probably over a million times, wanted to cry because it was too physically demanding for me, and was so frustrated at my embarrassment that I was the last person to reach the top.
But I did it.
And I was treated with this jaw-dropping view of the sunrise over the magnificent, historic Dead Sea.
I sat at the top of the mountain in awe of not only what I was looking at, but my sense of perseverance to get to the top. It was a magical morning that I am so happy and proud that I pushed through to enjoy. I went far outside of my comfort zone and I am so thankful that I did.
While traveling, the purpose is to immerse yourself into new experiences and cultures. You’ll find yourself outside your comfort zone sometimes without even trying, and sometimes it takes a bit of persuasion and bargaining with yourself. These are the moment that are absolutely worth it.
Try something new. Push yourself. You’ll never get these moments back. You won’t dwell on the fact that you were scared, or tired, or even feeling nauseous. You will be so overcome with pride and happiness that the bad feelings will be trumped by these amazing new feelings – and these are the feelings that last you a lifetime.
Relax and unplug
Let’s face it, unless you’re traveling for business, travel is meant to be relaxing. A time to leave your to-do list at home, your emails on unread, and your put your brain on ‘vacation mode.’ Traveling should be a time to slow down and enjoy your time. You’re in a new place for a reason – to really experience the destination and be fully present.
Travel should be a time to disconnect from the ‘real world’ at home and connect with yourself and your surroundings. Turn your phone off and be in the moment. I promise that email doesn’t need to be read the moment it comes in.
Going on adventures and doing new things is one of the ultimate treats of traveling. I’ve been privileged to have ridden a camel through the Sahara Desert, been on a cruise through the Amsterdam canals, seen the Eiffel Tower light show at night, put a prayer in the Western Wall in Israel, and even rented a waterfall for the day in the jungles of Belize.
The options are endless when it comes to new adventures when traveling. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest, and experienced with your full sense of presence. While there are local adventures to be had, there’s nothing like experiencing a destination’s essence in its truest form.
Meet new people
In Aruba, we came across a local man fishing off of the cliffside. He was kind enough to indulge us with his story when we asked what he was fishing for. He said that he came to this same spot each day to catch enough fish for him and his family. He shared a bit about his fishing techniques, what fish were local to the area, and even what he does in the ‘low’ season.
From someone who simply goes to a grocery store to get fish and only goes fishing on special occasions with my family, it was eye-opening to see that this was an everyday occurrence and simply part of life for him.
I have met so many people on my travels – not just locals, but other travelers too. And some of these people have become close, life-long friends.
So chat up that person next to you at the bar, or ask someone else on that tour with you how their trip is going. You never know the connections and friends that you’ll make.
So what are you waiting for? Click that ‘purchase’ button you’ve been wavering on, finalize those plans. Travel is an absolutely magical experience and will truly change your life.
Looking for more travel tips? Check out these other helpful posts!
I have had the travel bug since I was young. Living in Colorado, and my parents being from New York, gave us lots of opportunities to go visit family back East. In my professional career as an event planner, I’ve had many experiences in other states, cities, and even other countries. I have been blessed with the ability to see so many different places, people, and cultures.