Perhaps you’ve had a life-changing trip that encouraged you to do something you’ve never done before or you’ve met travel companions who’ve become your friends for life. It’s easy to romanticize how travel makes one a better person, but traveling is truly transformative. You come out of each trip a different person than you were before.
Here’s how traveling makes you a better person.
Travel is a lesson in building patience
Troubles often begin as soon as you start making travel plans. Booking tickets online may prove problematic. Travel dates may conflict with other plans. You might stumble into a variety of unexpected problems that can derail your trip, and that’s just in the planning stages.
More troubles may lie ahead. Meticulously crafted itineraries may be left in shambles because of horrible traffic and/or delayed flights. Expecting culinary delights? Don’t be so surprised if you end up having unsatisfying meals instead. It could be sheer bad luck or you’ve been misled by well-written albeit deceitful listicles. Language barriers, currency troubles, and plain old lack of research will also present obstacles.
Going on a week-long vacation in Scotland? Booking a hotel on the wrong side of town may result in unpleasant surprises. Vacationing in Tokyo during typhoon season may dampen plans to explore the buzzing, vibrant city. Stray too far from the sidewalk and you might just end up somewhere dangerous.
It’s not inconceivable for you to overlook small yet crucial details, derailing an otherwise impeccable travel plan. But it happens to everyone. Such situations may inconvenience you, but they also teach you to be more patient and help you make better plans in the future.
Here’s an idea — join a community of passionate travelers who are experts at making travel plans so you don’t have to do all the work.
Related article: Tired from your vacation? Try wellness travel instead
You learn to test — and know — your limits
There are travelers whose idea of “high exertion” is doing yoga in the morning and sipping cocktails in the afternoon, while there are those who live for adventure. However, there is such a thing as being too adventurous. When going on adventurous journeys, it’s essential to know your limits as much as you enjoy testing them.
A hiking trip across a captivating Italian countryside is a great opportunity to go out of your comfort zone and nourish your thrill-seeking soul. But if you’re going on one, there are things you must remember: test your gear, wear appropriate clothing, and stock up on food and water.
Speaking of nourishment, it pays to be mindful of your food restrictions, allergies, and other dietary requirements while on holiday. You can go on culinary adventures without sacrificing your well-being by researching places to eat that are suitable for your diet.
Travel deepens your understanding of the unfamiliar
Longer-term trips let you immerse yourself in a new culture, expose you to different lifestyles, and challenge your assumptions about how things work elsewhere. When you go to an unfamiliar place, you often don’t know how to get around, and you can’t speak the local language.
However, there are subtle ways to understand a place and increase your self-awareness in the process. For instance, you can make an effort to talk to the locals rather than at them. Appreciate their culture instead of appropriating them, especially if you’re spending more than just a few days in a particular destination. Immersive travel deepens your understanding and challenges preconceived notions about a place and its people.
Getting a sense of the local culture also requires greater participation than taking quick visits to popular tourist spots. Watch a local sporting event or attend a festival or learn the bizarre customs of the city you’re visiting to gain a greater sense of the local culture.
Travel makes you more empathetic
According to Harvard Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker, reading fiction encourages empathy because it enables readers to imagine themselves in others’ shoes. It can be argued that traveling, although more commonly associated with pleasure, also encourages empathy as it makes distant lives and cultures more relatable.
Learning about the language, lifestyle, and values of a foreign country broadens your perspective in terms of how different every part of the world is. You don’t have to learn everything there is to know about a foreign place, but it sure does pave the way for greater discovery.
For example, it may strike you as odd that in certain countries, wearing outdoor footwear indoors is frowned upon. Experiencing these and other “oddities,” however, can transform you into a person who respectfully conforms to other people’s values rather than expecting them to conform to yours. Ultimately, you gain a better understanding of how the world works and you go home a changed person.
Do you remember the first time you traveled? You probably don’t, but you’ve definitely changed since the day you first set foot in a foreign country. Join Wheel & Anchor’s travel tribe today, and discover the world — and yourself — with us.