We live in an age when travelling around the world has never been easier. The internet gives us a medium for researching where we want to go, how to get there, the best deals and recommended routes. However, many of us still might not have experienced much outside of the culture of our own country. In this article I look at why everyone should make the effort to undertake a period of travel at some point in their lives.
What Do I Mean By ‘Travel’?
It’s important for me to clarify what I mean by a ‘travel’. I’m talking about the type of travel that takes you out of your normal routine, a travel that you need to plan out and budget for. I mean a travel that will afford you the chance to experience a different culture and take you out of your comfort zone a little.
In simple terms, I’m not talking about a 2-week holiday to a destination which is full of the same people you know and love (or not) back home! If, like me, you’re a Brit, then it could be a couple of months doing a tour of South American countries. Or maybe you’ve been granted a 6-month sabbatical from work and want to go for something completely different by travelling around Asia for 5 months. The options are (excitingly) numerous.
It’s possible for almost anyone to go for a prolonged period of travel at some point in life. Some may go before starting their working life or a period of study, some may go as a career break halfway through their working life, some may go later in life once their children have fled the nest and some may go as an extended honeymoon. There are many different points at which a person might go travelling in their life, but, wherever it fits, I believe that every person should try to travel at least once in their life. Here’s why….
Travelling Makes You More Appreciative of Things
Depending on the type of travel in which you embark, your budget will vary greatly. I would suggest that any long term travel (4 months or longer) should be accompanied by some work, regardless of your financial constraints. There are various other benefits to arise from this work in itself, but to manage your budget so that you have just enough for your travels and a couple of extras will also enhance your experience.
My own year-long travel of New Zealand mostly worked on a basis of: travel until my finance got low > work for a short time to replenish the finances > travel until my finance got low etc. This simple way of living kept me moving, kept the money in when I needed it, and kept my travel experience unique and genuine.
Travelling this way will mean that you are not lavishly spending out on unnecessary things but instead will mean that you savour and fully appreciate everything that you do. I will never forget the simple pleasure of getting a cappuccino and a cake slice at a nice cafe when spending out on something so small seemed like a big decision. The same feeling applied when sleeping in a proper bed after several weeks of camping in cold weather! To fully appreciate these simple things is an incredible feeling that many of us lose in our everyday lives.
I will never forget the simple pleasure of getting a cappuccino and a cake slice at a nice cafe when spending out on something so small seemed like a big decision
It Can Help Your Creativity
This may seem like a strange one. You may not feel like the most creative person or even feel the need to be in your life, but to have your creative side teased out through travelling can feel quite liberating.
It’s likely that you’ll travel with limited resources and without many of the daily luxuries that dilute our creativity (the internet, TV, ready made meals etc.). Often when travelling, you strip away the luxuries and live a more basic life. If you camp at any time then you may be forced to use more basic utensils for your cooking and cleaning, whilst your lack of electronic entertainment may encourage you to play old fashioned games of a more social nature.
If you are travelling between several points then you have creative freedom to plan out an ideal trip which incorporates the greatest points of interest to you. With a longer duration of travel there will naturally be setbacks in your journey and this will force you to think on your feet in order to re-plan your route. The nature of the journey will help you to approach issues from alternative angles which, in turn, will develop your capacity to show your creative side.
It Helps to Give You More Perspective in Your Life
By stripping away some of the daily luxuries that we take for granted and by living a more simple life wherein we work to live – or in this case, we work to travel – travelling can give us greater clarity in life. Many of the things that seemed like a big problem in our daily life back home feel much less troublesome when travelling.
Our ‘home’ issues such as the laptop that loads really slowly or the colleague who keeps using your stuff at work or the constant supply of dirty dishes in the sink or the bad wifi signal in one room of the house all (or examples of a similarly silly level) seem embarrassingly insignificant when we are able to add a healthy dose of perspective. When we are wondering about where we are going to sleep at night or problem solving so that our money doesn’t run out before we finish the trip, the smaller things don’t seem to bother us as much anymore.
It Gives You an Education on the World that Cannot be Learnt
As I mentioned earlier, we live in a day and age when travelling has never been easier. It’s also true that it’s very easy to research different countries prior to planning a trip or choosing a destination. But whilst we can read the history of a country in a book, and we can view their landmarks on YouTube, and we can read reviews on sight seeing spots, it’s no replacement for being there in person and physically experiencing it for yourself.
After a brief stint of voluntary work in a village called St. Lucia in South Africa, I learnt so much more than research could ever teach me. Of course, there are expert researchers who could give me a ton of facts about the village about which I have no idea, but the physical interactions with the local people, the exposure to their work, sampling the local cuisine, hearing first hand about their families’ history and the overall ‘feel’ of the location gave me a real world education that cannot be replaced.
Travelling Can be a Tonic for Technological Burnout
I think that this one is particularly relevant. The majority of us are aware of the drawbacks of using technology so frequently that it feels like an addiction, but it is difficult to create a healthy balance. Occasionally, we need a detox from the autonomous technological routines that we regularly go through.
The devices that we have available to us are incredible, and it’s important that we manage them so that we remember how useful they can be. Travelling can provide an excellent platform for helping us to manage it in the right way. The inevitable lack of signal in certain destinations and the high tariff price of use in certain destinations will help us to focus on enjoying the location whilst reserving technological use to important functions such as taking a picture to savour the moment or making an important phone call.
It Can Give You a Much Needed Career Break
I think that it’s important for each person to consider a career break or change of career at some point in life. Even if you love your job and have no intention of ever leaving, it’s a comforting feeling to have the opportunity to have a break or make a change if things did turn for the worse.
A handily placed career break – if used effectively – can really reinvigorate your appetite for being a hard-working a valuable employee on your return. It can help to instil a drive in you to make a difference in your job, and can greatly contrast what we may feel when lethargically plodding through in our work.
Upon my return from a career break – in which I undertook a year-long travel – I was tremendously excited to re-start my career in education and was bubbling with ideas for moving forward. It’s essential that people find that spark for their own employment and travelling can dramatically help towards this.
It Helps to Connect You with People Outside of Your Bubble
We all tend to get into routines and habits pretty quickly. For most, this usually centres around where we work and, to a lesser extent, our friendship / family circles. Therefore, we often tend to fall into the same types of activities, with the same types of people, with similar patterns of conversation. We can get stuck in a ‘bubble’ from which it feels difficult to get out.
Travelling will help you to meet different types of people within different cultures and this can be incredibly refreshing. The excitement of meeting somebody from outside of your culture is often reflected in their excitement in talking to you about your culture.
In my experience of staying in a hostel with people from Belgium, Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, France, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden and Finland at the same time, we all had a fantastic opportunity to discover different cultures and outlooks – it really brought us all together. The occasional group exploration of different areas by taking a little hike for a couple of hours also worked wonders for our social dynamics.
This type of setting from time to time can really help us to stretch our minds and enjoy social activity on a different level to that of the norm. It can also dramatically improve a person’s communication skills with a greater range of people.
Being Away from Home Helps You to More Fully Love Your Home
The old adage of absence makes the heart grow fonder is rarely more true than here. By going away and gaining an appreciation for different culture and people, you’re very likely to gain a new found appreciation for the unique culture and charms of your own hometown.
I’d never loved my home in Cornwall more than after I’d returned from a year of travelling abroad. It’s not because I didn’t like the places to which I travelled – quite the opposite, actually – but by investing in the unique nature of new cultures you’re more likely to consider your own home from a fresh perspective and this will help you to understand and love that home more because of the experience.
Now that I’ve rounded off with talk of home, I can wrap up the article. If you have not done a proper ‘travel’ before in your life then I hope that my writing makes you seriously consider – perhaps you could update the bucket list to incorporate a travel somewhere – or, if you have travelled before in your life then I hope that you get the opportunity to enjoy its vast pleasures again!