“Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Traveling has a cost and is considered by some as a hobby among others. However, more than a simple hobby, traveling is actually a genuine school of life. Rather than a simple expense to please yourself, it is a way to invest in yourself. The money spent on traveling would be more like the budget allocated to a training course than the one allocated to the latest fashionable gadget.
I will explain why I believe that traveling can truly enrich you.
However, two small clarifications:
- First, to get real benefits from traveling, we need to adopt a certain mindset and go for certain ways of traveling. For example, spending a week “basking in the sun” on a beach in Greece with an all-inclusive package, without trying to discover the country, will certainly let you get some rest, but it will not allow you to learn and enrich yourself.
- Secondly, it should be remembered that travel is not accessible to all human beings on Earth. Many people live below the poverty line, have barely enough to meet their basic needs, or live under the yoke of a dictatorial regime, which is deeply unfair. Traveling is a real privilege. If you are reading me today, it is because you know how to read, use new technologies and have access to them. You can potentially travel (knowing that you don’t need to go to the other side of the world for 6 months, nor to sleep in 5-star hotels to do so). If, like me, you have this privilege, be aware of it. Be grateful for it. And enjoy it.
Traveling allows us to marvel at the beauty of the world. We rediscover the way we looked at everything around us as children. Pay attention to the way you look at things when you travel: you observe everything, you are attentive to the beauty of the landscapes and cultures you encounter. On the other hand, in your daily life, you don’t really pay attention to what surrounds you and to the beauty that is hidden in it. Traveling is above all adopting the gaze of the traveler who discovers and of the child who marvels.
Wondering is a source of inspiration. For example, a painter will return home from a trip with a thousand ideas for paintings. Inspiration doesn’t stop at art: discovering new ways of living and understanding the world during a trip can inspire us to look at our daily lives in a different way, and even to make changes in our lives.
Being amazed is also realizing how beautiful the world is and how important it is to preserve it. Traveling develops our ecological awareness, even if traveling has an impact on the environment (which depends on the way we travel).
Finally, by traveling you will become rich with precious memories, which will be worth more than all the material possessions you could have acquired instead.
So, wander and wonder!
Speak foreign languages
Traveling abroad is a good way to learn and practice foreign languages in immersion.
While traveling is not in itself enough to speak foreign languages, it does allow you to practice the language skills you have learned in real-life situations. It is very rewarding to be able to interact with native speakers in the country.
Traveling can also allow you to meet in real life your pen pal or language partner with whom you used to discuss during video calls.
Meet people and make friends around the world
Traveling allows you to get away from your usual social environment and meet people you might have not met otherwise.
By having an open attitude and using the foreign languages you have learned, you will be able to meet many interesting people. Some people will introduce you to their culture, change the way you see the world, and even become your friends. Somewhere in the place you are about to discover may be your future best friend, employer, business partner or even your future soul mate.
Discover other ways of seeing things
Far from your usual environment, you will discover other cultures, other visions of the world. Meeting the local population will allow you to break down the stereotypes you may have had about them before leaving. It will allow you to better understand the locals’ way of life. You will learn about their culture and come back with a different way of seeing things. It is possible that after discovering other paradigms, or worldviews, you end up adopting some of them because you realize that they fit you more than those existing in your place of origin.
For example, during my trip to India, I realized that it is possible to have a varied vegetarian diet. Vegetarian dishes fill at least half of the menus in restaurants, as a good part of the population is lacto-vegetarian. Coming from a country where the main dish is usually designed around an animal – meat or fish, I found this fascinating. About two years later, I ended the cognitive dissonance of eating animals even though I loved them and rejected their suffering. I became a vegetarian (and then almost a vegan). The seed planted during my trip had grown.
Become more open-minded
By discovering other visions of the world, you will become more open-minded. You will thus be able to shift your paradigm and empathize with others.
By traveling with an open mind, you will learn about other people’s cultures without judgment. This open-mindedness will lead to greater tolerance. This is a true richness, both on a personal level and on a more global level. Your open-mindedness will be like a light emanating from your heart and irradiating all those you come across, illuminating a world that is too narrow-minded.
By embracing a different vision of things than the one you had, you will enrich your identity. Because it is an enrichment and not an abandonment of your culture, of your identity, as some would claim. You will be the living proof that fear and intolerance have no place in this world.
Become more flexible and resourceful
Every trip has its share of unforeseen events. No matter how carefully you plan your trip, you can’t always anticipate everything. You will have to deal with unexpected situations, such as a problem with your accommodation booking or an impassable trail l you had planned to take. You will learn to become more flexible. These situations require a certain amount of letting go, or your entire trip may be ruined.
By looking for solutions to deal with the unexpected, you will become more resourceful. You will learn to adapt to a new environment and to the different situations that come your way.
Dare to take on challenges and increase your self-confidence
Going on a trip means getting out of your comfort zone. Daring to reach out to strangers and speak foreign languages. Daring to have certain experiences. Taking on challenges. For example, you go hiking for several days, far away from your sedentary life.
Get out of your comfort zone, dare some experiences, take on challenges, and your self-confidence will increase. When you come back, you will be proud that you did not give up, that you tried this new activity, that you talked to foreigners in a language you don’t know very well yet. Your self-confidence will radiate into all areas of your life and inspire you to take on more challenges.
Many travelers agree that travel is an accelerated life learning. Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on challenges will make you mature like never before. When you travel, you are constantly confronted with new things. Every day brings new discoveries. There is no such thing as routine. Chances are you will come back changed.
Traveling even allows some people to grow spiritually, whether it is through the discovery of other religions or spiritualities, or simply through their own experiences. Their vision of life and the world changes thanks to the trip.
Beyond discovering other landscapes and other cultures, we discover ourselves.
Traveling can really have an initiatory dimension. Getting out of our environment of origin. Leaving our comfort zone. Removing the layers of our identity that do not belong to us or that do not fit us anymore. Like a snake that sheds its skin. And, at the end of this stripping, (re)discovering who we are deep inside. This is what some journeys allow.
It is not by chance that the initiatory journey has given rise to numerous books and films. Candide (Voltaire), Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer, Sean Penn for the film adaptation), L’Auberge espagnole (Cédric Klapisch), to name but a few, we follow the evolution of the character during his/her journey, his/her inner journey beyond his/her journey on the roads of the world.
So travel if you can. Go and meet others and yourself. And come back rich in experiences and with a head full of memories to cherish for a lifetime!
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