I would say to everyone reading this If you have the opportunity to pack your bags and go, do it. Go alone if you have to.
Don’t do it just for vacation. Don’t do it for luxury. Don’t do it to take pictures for your Facebook. Do it because it will make you a better person. People always ask how travel has changed me. If I look back at who I was before I began traveling and compare that to who I am now, I would have to say that travel has made me a better and more well-rounded person. I’m way cooler now than I was when I first stepped my feet out of the comfort of my home to see the world. And thankfully I got a wife who has a bigger travel gene in her DNA.
In a nut-shell, I’m a lot more awesome now than I used to be.
In fact, I think travel makes everybody a smarter person. We end our travels way better off than when we started.
How travel makes you smarter? Let me count the ways:
More social – You will either do or die on the road. Either you will get a whole bunch of friends or you end up alone. You will learn to make friends out of strangers and get more comfortable talking to new people at new places.
Better at conversation – Not only you will learn to make friends but you will end up having more meaningful conversation with the people around you. You will grow, your communication skills will grow more, and that will help you in every sphere of life, from dating to business. You will learn how to connect with other cultures and people, even when you don’t speak the same language.
More confident – So you’ve traveled the world. Hiked the Alps, learnt scuba diving in Bali, Seen the Taj Mahal and survived Delhi Belly. Wined and dined that beautiful girl in Venice, navigated unknown cities, talked with unknown people, got lost on streets, communicated in different languages and conquered your fear of heights. In short, you did awesome things. How can you not be more confident? How can you not be sure about your abilities? After achieving so much, you’re going to feel a lot more confident in your ability to achieve anything you set your mind to.
More adaptable – You will try looking at things a different way. You will ask questions. You’ve dealt with many unpredictable things like missed flights, slow buses, wrong turns, delays, bad street food, and much, much more. After a while, you learn how to adapt your plans to changing situations. You don’t get mad, you don’t get angry, you just alter what you are doing and move on. You will forget the missed bus and enjoy the culture that can be experienced in one hour waiting at a bus stop. You will learn to stay in the present. Life throws you lemons and you will learn how to make lemonade from them. Why? Because you’re awesome like that.
More adventurous – When you become confident in your ability to do anything, you do anything. What’s the purpose of life if not to break out of your comfort zone? You will learn to communicate without knowing a single word of the new language. You will try new cuisines, new experiences and it all will end up making you a better person in every sphere of life.
More easy-going – Travel forces your brain to think differently. You will realize that itineraries are guidelines, not rigid measurements of experience. The best experiences are often not scheduled or anticipated. You will learn to expect the unexpected and learn to love it. You go with the flow now, because travel teaches you one best thing that it all works out in the end and that there’s no need to stress.
Sexier – Studies have shown that stress causes aging. Those carefree, relaxing days on the road are going to make you more confident, radiant, and age slower. You’ll look young and sexy with extra glow on your skin. Unless of course you are Richard Gere, who definitely got better with age.
Smarter – Unless you are sitting at the pool bar in your resort doing nothing except drowning your brain in frozen drinks, travel will teach you about the world. You’ll learn about people, history, and culture, and amazing facts about places some people could only dream about. Simply put, you’ll have a better understanding about how it works and how people behave away from the comfort of your home. That’s something no book can teach you; you can only pick it up when you hit the road.
Less materialistic – When on road, you learn exactly how little things you need for living. You’ll realize that all that crap they sell at the big shopping mall is pretty useless in real happy life. You will learn to differentiate between what you really need to live and what you don’t. As the common saying goes, the more you own, the more it owns you.
Happier – Travel simply shows you that Life Is Beautiful. You’ll have a more positive attitude towards life and will see the world as a brighter place. How can you not be happy about life after all of that?
You learn about yourself
Learning about yourself is the greatest thing you will take away from travel. There’s nothing like the feeling of being completely alone in a foreign country. It’s like you’re a newborn baby again except this time without parents, you have to learn how to face the world by yourself. Maybe it’s all that time to reflect, maybe it’s that you’re forced to talk to complete strangers for guidance and interaction, or maybe it’s that you see how little you need when living out of a backpack. You will learn how to be alone and how to navigate a foreign land. You will learn how to read a scam and how not to get hustled. You will learn how other countries eat their pizza. You will learn the Image India has on the rest of the world, both negative and positive. You will learn so many tiny things about yourself that you will never consciously remember them all, but they will all exponentially benefit your overall experience with your life.
Travel makes people better. When you learn more about the world and the people in it, push your boundaries, and try new things, you become a more open, outgoing, and awesome person. With all the ways a trip can make you more of an awesome person, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be planning your next adventure now – whether it’s around the world or just a short two-week vacation to Goa.
Or you can choose to sit at home watching the discovery travel channel, wishing you were somewhere exotic, having fun, and doing something pretty cool.