Why do we feel so great when we travel? Is it the prospect of finally snapping that perfect picture of the Eiffel Tower? Is it the endless amount of delicious, new food (probably not, but it certainly helps!)? Is it meeting new people from exciting new places? Or maybe it’s something on a much deeper level that keeps us coming back for more, always pushing ourselves to see more, eat more (seconds? thirds?), learn more.
Here are a few reasons why traveling makes you feel like your best self:
Travel teaches us to be flexible.
Anyone who has ever flown on a discount airline understands the meaning of the word “patience.” Just the act of getting from one place to another can be a seemingly insurmountable hurdle, with flight delays, lost luggage, getting off at the wrong train stop, or bus drivers going on strike. Navigating a city in another country is not always the picture-perfect experience that Instagram would have us believe.
Travel allows us to trust the world.
The news sure has a way of making the world seem like a scary place. While we should always be aware of our surroundings and the climate of safety in certain countries, the reality is that even within countries that seem epicly foreign or frightening, there’s probably a lot of beauty, too. Just like how the streets of south Chicago don’t fully represent all of the magnificence of the Windy City, so too are there adventures to be had in destinations we’re unfamiliar with (or slightly apprehensive of). But boy, does it feel good to trust your gut, squash the stereotypes, and move to a place of understanding and compassion rather than fear.
Now, we’re not telling you to pull up your bootstraps and head into the uncharted wilderness of a dangerous place. But what we are saying is that much of travel forces us to put our trust in the kindness of strangers. When asking for directions on the street, recommendations for the best restaurant in town, or trading stories with new friends in a hostel, we have to constantly rely on others, many of whom might not even speak our same language. When exchanging money at the market, walking down an unknown street, or jumping onto the bus, we still have to rely on the goodness of others.
Travel allows us to trust ourselves.
Navigating the Polish train system without a map (or a dictionary)? Haggling in a foreign market, or planning an entire travel itinerary through three separate countries on the fly? Travel not only makes us capable of handling ourselves, it empowers us to accomplish what we put our mind to, too. In travel, road bumps (literally and figuratively) are a-plenty, and we must be able to problem-solve as quickly, and creatively, as possible.
Travel connects us with the world beyond our front doorstep.
Although we encounter many cultural differences in our travels, it is actually incredible how similar we are to people who live across the globe. Despite our diverse cultural backgrounds and daily lifestyles, travel allows us to connect with others and realize that we actually have a lot in common with that one friend living in Sweden. We also enjoy spending time with family, listening to indie pop music, and dancing on the weekends.
Once we’ve pulled ourselves outside of the safe, protective bubble of home, we can clearly see that we are just like those people hundreds of miles away. We are all a part of a bigger story; we all have more bringing us together than tearing us apart. It’s this realization that breaks down fear and prejudices, making the world a much smaller, more welcoming, and connected place.