One of the biggest challenges I faced the first time I considered traveling, was justifying it to myself (and to the people around me). Justifying the money I would spend, or that I was quitting my job, or that it would be good for me at all. In the end, it was the best decision of my life.
At the time of the initial ponderings I was suffering from a bad case of depression, FOMO, and anxiety regarding my uncertain future as a young twenty-something. Travel changed everything.
Travel is good for your health
I can honestly say [solo] traveling pulled me out of a bad depression. It drastically altered my outlook on life and allowed me to consider and accept (but only occasionally) the fact that sometimes, things are just out of my control.
I’m no doctor, but I believe it cured my depression. When you’re depressed, sometimes all you need is a change of pace, a new scene, or some sunshine. The thing about being depressed, though, is that you’re never in a place to realize or accept or consider that this is even an option, let alone doable.
The beauty of new things alone often brings a renewed sense of self.
It’s also important to note, that long-term travel can also bring on feelings of travel fatigue or homesickness. I know you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right. I could travel forever,” but really, spending so much time moving from place to place can really wear you down. One of the toughest parts for me was not having a home base, or at least somewhere I could feel comfortable in my own space for more than a few days. I’m sure not everyone is affected by this, and there are ways to cope, but it’s a real issue that most people must face.
It’s also great for personal development
When you’re stuck in your day-to-day routine, or a 9-5, how often are you so inspired that you develop a new outlook on life? Myself, never. When I’m stuck in such ruts, inspiration does not come willingly.
Nine-to-five aside, exploring new cultures gives way to so many new considerations and feelings. Traveling often brings with it a substantial boost of confidence. Confidence in oneself and what once can accomplish can be great for self-esteem.
I’ve seen it change people’s personalities drastically; from a shy, introverted home-body with low self-esteem, to a burgeoning explorer of worlds; Coming home with a renewed sense of being and purpose, making positive changes. I’m sure you know somebody who’s come back from their big backpacking adventure, fat and happy, acting like a person-of-the-world. Of course, not everyone needs that boost of confidence.
As if you needed another excuse to finally buy that ticket and hit the road.
I’m more than willing to admit how jaded growing up in the Western World makes us. Engaging with cultures other than your own can help develop empathy and understanding - something which can be limited when you live with extreme comfort and convenience.
Travel is educational
Education doesn’t have to follow a strict curriculum. Immersing yourself in other cultures and exploring new places is educational in itself. Sometimes just being around new things, or listening to foreign languages can have lasting effects. Immersion learning is well known as a highly effective method of learning and honing language skills.
Learning languages is great, but it takes time. Through my adventures, I never learned more about anything than what I learned about myself. When you’re an avid traveler or adventurer, you’re constantly testing yourself, or gauging your own reactions in specific situations. Often, I’ll find myself subconsciously putting myself in situations that I know are over my head, just to see what I’m capable of. Most of the time, I come out fine, and better for it, having learned something new. If anything, avid travelers are great problem solvers.
Sometimes what draws us to a part of the world is the history of a particular place. And what better way to experience a historical monument than be going to it. So much can be learned about a culture or place by its history alone. The best part is, you rarely have to go far to get a feel for the history of a place.