Recently, I was looking through some photos I’d taken during my travels. So many amazing experiences!!
As I walked down memory lane, I began to think about how traveling has impacted my life in so many unexpected, positive ways.
TRAVEL GIVES YOU SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
“Every man can transform the world from one of monotony
and drabness to one of excitement and adventure.”
– Irving Wallace
When you plan a trip – whether it is for a day, weekend, or longer – you have something to look forward to. The enjoyment that the trip provides starts long before you arrive at your destination.
Studies have shown that the anticipation actually provides more pleasure than the trip itself. Why? Because you’re envisioning the fun you’ll have, the places you’ll go, and the things you’ll see.
TRAVEL ALLOWS YOU TO RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES
“One of the gladdest moments of human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into
unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of
routine, the cloak of many cares and the slavery of home, man feels once more happy.”
– Richard Burton
In this hustle bustle, multi-tasking, rush rush rush world we live in, it’s in our best interest to take time off for ourselves. We need downtime to reduce our stress levels and relax, refresh, and recharge.
According to a pre-pandemic press release by the U.S. Travel Association, “American workers left 768 million unused vacation days on the table in 2018, up 9% from the previous year. And 236 million of those days were forfeited completely, totaling more than $65 billion in lost benefits.” 1
Yep. You read that right.
The importance of taking time off cannot be emphasized enough. Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies and do permanent damage if we aren’t careful. The ability to decompress is critical to maintaining good physical and mental health.
Traveling offers us the chance to focus on ourselves, do what we want when we want, and come back with renewed energy and spirit. It’s amazing what a simple change of scenery can do!
TRAVEL CAN REIGNITE YOUR
SENSE OF CURIOSITY & WONDER
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as
if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
– Bill Bryson
Getting away from the places you go in your everyday life allows you to see and do different things than you do when you’re at home. When you go somewhere you’ve never been, everything around you is new and interesting and the possibilities are endless.
When I travel, I’ve found that the best way to experience a new place is to just go with the flow and not have a stringent itinerary. This leaves the door open to wonderful new experiences.
Traveling with children can offer an even better perspective. Children see the world around them from such a different perspective. Even the simplest thing is looked upon with a sense of curiosity and sometimes even awe. When you take a child on a trip, even somewhere you’ve already been, you’ll see it again through their eyes. Once familiar places seem brand new. We all need to summon the child within us so even the simple things in life bring us joy.
TRAVEL CAN GIVE YOU A BETTER
UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER CULTURES
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people
need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things
cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
– Mark Twain
More often than not, what we think we know about a person or a culture is based on limited information.
For example, several years ago, I dated a man from Israel. He had moved to the U.S. when he was 11 and spoke English fluently. However, his religion and culture were totally new to me.
I’d hear him talk to his father on the phone and to me, it sounded more like a shouting match than a conversation. I’d say to him, “you shouldn’t yell at your father like that” and he’d reply, “I wasn’t yelling, that’s how we talk to each other.” I thought he was nuts until I traveled to Israel with him and one of his daughters.
The three of us visited one of his uncles and his family with the other uncle with whom we were staying. Shortly after arriving, the conversation between the men turned to politics and the volume of the conversation grew progressively louder and more animated as each man tried to make his point. (It was like listening to “The McLaughlin Group” or similar political roundtable…but in Hebrew. LOL).
As I observed this interaction, it dawned on me that he was right: talking loudly was simply a cultural thing; it wasn’t yelling as I perceived it. Long story short, as a result of that trip, I was able to understand him and his culture better by meeting other Israelis and seeing firsthand how they interacted with each other. It was a very positive and eye-opening experience.
TRAVEL CAN HELP YOU UNDERSTAND YOURSELF BETTER
“…When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along”
– John O’Donoghue (excerpt from “For the Traveler”)
Traveling often involves a lot of down time, whether you’re on a road trip or sitting in an airport. This downtime provides a lot of time for introspection. Eventually, your mind inevitably turns to things that concern you, problems you’re having at home or at work, your never-ending “To Do” list, and so on.
Many people may find this disconcerting, but it can truly be a blessing. When we have a block of time alone, we are able to focus solely on ourselves, our wants and needs, and truly consider what, if any, actions we need to take in order to be happy.
I find that when I let my mind wander to other things, a solution to a problem or a new idea will come to me more readily than when I focus all of my energy thinking about it. Solutions have even come to me in my dreams.
How you deal with things during your trip will also help you get to know and understand yourself better.
Trying new things that take you outside of your comfort zone can be scary but fun, showing you that you are more brave than you thought you were.
TRAVEL ENABLES YOU TO EXPERIENCE NEW THINGS
“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when
we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.”
— Lawrence Block
This quote could not apply more to me personally. I like to see and do touristy things when I travel. However, I also like to get off the beaten path, away from tourists, and explore. Either way, I have always found really interesting things when I’ve been on my way to see something else.
For example, one time on the way to my boyfriend’s brother’s house in central Virginia, we decided to take a “shortcut” which led us down an unfamiliar road. We didn’t recognize anything and just when we were ready to turn around, we came across the coolest church I’ve ever seen. It was like a small-scale version of the castle in Disneyland.
Another time when we were in Nashville, we walked a few blocks past the popular Music Row area and stumbled upon a beautiful, historic hotel with gorgeous architectural details inside and out (see above photo).
These are the moments I live for and love. I find that the more open I am to just going with the flow, the more I discover.
TRAVEL ENABLES YOU TO GAIN A NEW PERSPECTIVE
“People who don’t travel cannot have a global view, all they see is what’s in front of them.
Those people cannot accept new things because all they know is where they live.”
– Martin Yan
Most of us form our views of the world based on what the media tells us. If the past several Presidential elections have taught us nothing else, they’ve taught us that we definitely can’t believe everything we hear (or see for that matter).
To truly understand what’s going on in different cities and countries around the world, we need to see things for ourselves. We need to talk to the people, see how they live, what their environment is like, and what crosses they bear before we can truly understand them and their culture.
TRAVEL ALLOWS YOU TO CREATE
MEMORIES THAT LAST A LIFETIME
“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over
again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
— Pat Conroy
Did you know that 81% of Americans would rather receive experienced-based gifts than a physical gift? 2 I didn’t either, but I think that’s a good sign. People are beginning to place more value on experiences versus the newest “in” thing for fulfillment.
One of the ways I personally like to preserve memories is to take pictures. I take pictures of EVERYTHING! I love capturing images from different angles, in different light, and with different camera settings.
The people, places, and things that are characteristic of a destination tell a story. With time, our memories tend to fade (I know my memory isn’t what it used to be and I’m still relatively young. LOL). Roger Kingston said it best: “A camera is a Save button for the mind’s eye.”
By taking pictures, I have lasting memories that I can enjoy long after I return. When I look at my pictures, I can remember where I was when I took them, what was going on around me, and what made compelled me to take the photograph.
What benefits do you get from traveling? Please share in the Comments below. I can’t wait to read them!
1 “National Plan for Vacation Day: The Antidote to ‘Vacation Deprivation’ ‘”U.S. Travel Association Press Release, January 22, 2020
2 “This Holiday Season, Americans Want Experiences, Not Stuff,” by Jodi Holzband, Squarefoot Blog, November 28, 2016
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