One week into my year-long trip around SE Asia with my wife Mary, I have already experienced way more than I expected. Today I want to try to answer the question: Why Travel? Is it for the glory of returning home to share you tales? To get away from the monotony? Maybe to find the best tasting mango in the world?
Here is my list of the greatest benefits that come from traveling:
Travel is the best way to have an adventure. An adventure is defined as an unusual or exciting experience, often potentially hazardous. From trekking through the jungle to trying new foods to navigating the local bus system, you are guaranteed to have to use your basic human problem solving skills when you travel. This in turn can be a boost of confidence – if you can make it through the busiest, loudest, scariest places in the world, challenges at home will be a walk in the park.
Travel builds relationships. If you are traveling with someone, as I am with Mary (this trip is effectively our honeymoon), you grow closer through shared experiences. You also must learn to engage others you meet in meaningful way, as you may only share a short time together.
Travel is an ideal transition between life stages. Often I find I generate ideas and motivation toÂ fuel my next big project when I return home from traveling.Â Tim Ferriss popularized the idea of a mini retirement, and travel is the best way to restore balance after working long and hard on a project.Â After three years of focusing on extreme microbiology for my masters, this trip gets me out of the library and into the world.
You become a better storyteller. Â You need a diverse collection of experiences to choose from in order to have good stories. Â And what do good stories do for you? They connect you with the people you are telling them to. Â You get plenty of chances to swap tales with other travelers for practice and sometimes the stories you hear will help you on your journey.
To have your wildest dreams come true. The whole point of my bucket list is to set up a series of quests for worthwhile experiences. Â Some quests such as mine to go to all 50 states take half a lifetime, and completing them proves that even bigÂ goals are achievable.
To be pleasantly surprised. Â Before any trip, you have a certain set of expectations. Â In the course of your adventure, you will likely discover something you weren’tÂ expecting and is a nice surprise. Maybe the trees are expecially interesting, the food is delicious, or the local customs are endearing. Granted, you can experience this feeling when reading a book or walking around your neighborhood at home, travel just feeds you a steady stream of surprises.
As a reset button. Travel can reset your ability to make good decisions on the fly. For a life that has gotten stagnant or predictable, travel can reset your curiosity and openness to learning new things. You regain your childlike wonder. Travel can also reset your comfort zone -Â sometimes you travel to purposely get uncomfortable in order to grow as a person.
Travel helps you appreciate people. Around the world, most people are trying to make a living and spend time with their friends and family. I have seen so many creative solutions and effort in entrepreneurship, and so much love and time shared between people that it reminds me of my faith in humanity and encourages me for the future.
Question: What are the reasons that you travel? Leave your answer in the comments below.