“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Everyone has heard those cheesy cliches that there are some lessons that can only be learned by traveling - but it’s true. As a Southern California native, I spent most of my time traveling within the U.S; whether it was road trips or spending a few days in a new city grubbing on the local food. I loved seeing my country, but I was yearning to see more outside of it. When I traveled across the world for a year, I felt like my mindset changed the most, and gave me a broader understanding of people outside of my own upbringing. My perspective changed in a lot of ways. Now, I’m an adamant believer that if you have the means to travel, you should do it. Here are a few things traveling will do for you:
Conquer your fears
Just getting on a plane to go to another part of the world can be intimidating. Once you do it, you’ve essentially conquered a fear that most people are afraid of. With each new place you visit, you are continuously conquering fears until it becomes second nature. You come back as a braver version of yourself.
Gain a better understanding of people
Exposure to other cultures, people, foods, beliefs, and ways of living that are outside of what you are accustomed to helps you appreciate others. When you get to a new place, it can feel like you just walked onto a whole new planet. You are getting experiential education about the culture you are encountering. The best way to learn and appreciate new people is not by reading about them or watching them on T.V., but by going there firsthand.
The media can promote fear of the world and of certain groups of people. Once you travel and actually spend time among different groups of people you may not encounter at home, you come to realize it’s not what you expected. I had this experience a lot on the road. I came to learn that the world wasn’t as scary as it seems in the media, and it is actually a very beautiful place.
Broaden your appreciation of various foods
If you appreciate food and are an adventurous eater like myself, you will try different foods and take risks to see what you like. Just because it doesn’t look like what you are used to doesn’t mean you won’t like it. Your digestive system may be in shock at first, but take risks and try the local food!
Expand your friend circle
It’s impossible not to expand your friend circle with people from different cultures once you get out and start traveling. Eventually you will have friends from all over the world. I made friends in every country I visited and, although we are miles apart, the memories you share with them will last a lifetime. Social media bridges the gap of distance, and if you ever make it back to that part of the world again, you can cross paths and pick up where you left off.
Teach you about world currencies
When I was backpacking, I was changing currencies faster than I could keep up. I had to learn in each country the power of the U.S. dollar in comparison to the cost of living in that country, to know if I was being overcharged or not. You need to get accustomed to the currencies to barter in the markets and keep your costs down. This is firsthand education about how different economies work.
Learn more about yourself
You will naturally learn things about yourself you never knew while traveling: what you are capable of, how brave you really are, and ways you learn to adapt in difficult situations. If your plans go awry, you will see how you are able to turn the situation around or handle yourself under pressure in a foreign environment.
I haven’t met a person that loves traveling that didn’t want to travel more each time they experienced a new place. There’s something addictive about it that makes you want to see more places once you get started. You may start adding places to your list that you never thought you wanted to see before. So many places, so little time.