Maybe the most obvious, or maybe the least obvious. One of the most important benefits of travel is your health. Specifically stress reduction.
According to a study by The National Library of Medicine: Three days after vacation, physical complaints, the quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation.
Some will say that travel is more stressful than relaxing. I agree it can be when things go wrong, But it does not need to be. If booking a trip is stressful for you, let a professional do it for you. Use a travel agent or go on an organized trip with a group vs. a self-planned one.
Perhaps one of the most understood benefits of travel is relaxation!
In today’s fast-paced world, we all struggle to slow down. Taking a vacation is a great way for you to put everything on hold and relax.
Disengaging from the day-to-day of life allows you to clear your mind, rebalance, and refocus.
Advances Social Skills
Have you ever been in that awkward situation where you do not have anything to say?
I think we all have at some point in our life. With a couple of trips under your belt, you will have much better social skills—a key benefit of travel that people often discounted.
Travel forces you to be social. People naturally ask where you are from, how you ended up in your chosen location, and so on.
It is not uncommon to be invited to local events. Attending will give you the chance to mingle with people you otherwise would not have the chance to.
Improves Communication Skills
I cannot tell you how many times we have been in a situation where none of us could speak the local language, and no one in the host country spoke English. A common scenario in some countries. And a common reason people don’t venture overseas.
This has never been an issue for us. Believe it or not, you can muddle by with basic sign language or communicate in pictures.
I have described entire requests like I need to do laundry, or I would like to buy local art all by simply drawing the picture.
It is a lot easier today; we all have Google Translate, which is great. But you will not always have wi-fi. If you get out and about enough, you will figure out how to communicate without language.
Do not be afraid of not speaking the local language. Try to communicate as best you can. If you can pick up a word or two, you will be ahead of most others, score – another benefit of travel!
Makes You Appreciate What You Have
Traveling helps us appreciate our lifestyle, and it is humbling.
You really do not know just how fortunate you are until you see life in other parts of the world.
Simple things like running water and electricity suddenly have new meaning to you.
You may think to yourself, I don’t need to travel to appreciate what you have. And, you may be correct. However, chances are this benefit of travel will make you appreciate them even more.
Strengthens Your Immune System
Yes, this is comical, given that I am writing this article in June of 2020. The year of COVID. But seriously, travel does build your immune system.
While you will never escape the potential “Delhi Belly” incidents completely you will build up a tolerance for them.
In some cases, if you are unlucky and get exposed to something more serious, you will be immune the next time.
Broadens Your Horizons
Connecting with different people from different cultures allows you to see issues and daily life differently.
Experiencing life at the moment rather than through television or someone else’s narrative is eye-opening.
You will develop a new curiosity that you did not know existed. And you will become more open to the world outside of the US.
Develops Your Tolerance
If you had told me twenty years ago that I would understand how or why some cultures engage in point-blank bribery, I would have said you are bonkers.
I am not condoning it. I am simply saying that in some cultures, it is a necessity.
It was explained to me by a dear friend: Right or wrong if you do not take the money someone else will.
In some counties, if you do not engage, you are not going to get far.
Stretches Your Pallet and Taste
Food is like the universal language of love. Let’s face it – we all must eat.
Every region of every country has its own local cuisine. All locals want to showcase their dishes and traditions.
Eating around the world gives you a totally different appreciation for food.
Do not get me wrong here, I am not talking about eating bush meat or domestic animals. That is not for me and I am completely against how some counties cultivate their food. This aside, let us talk vegetables here to avoid any debate over the food source.
No two cultures are the same; no two cuisines are the same. Everything from available vegetables to seasoning varies, and exotic choices await!
For example, sampling a vegetarian curry in Thailand is radically different from sampling a vegetarian curry in India or England. In fact, northern and southern Indian curries are very different.
Makes You Adaptable
You have all heard the expression “When in Rome,” and we all know the meaning.
The reality can be a jolt of lightning to your social core, or it can be the true test of your endurance and adaptability.
I am a firm believer that things will go wrong, and I expect it. I also do not panic or freak out when things go wrong. Neither do the people that travel with me. I am known for keeping calm in that I encourage all to chill while we figure it out.
Have I ever been in a situation that was not safe? Of course – many times. I am talking about experiences like this:
You are in India. It is rainy season and the sewer systems have backed up onto the main street. The choices are walk through the water and proceed on to a good time or stay hotel bound. Which in my case would have been for weeks. I chose to go out and deal with whatever came my way. I survived.
You are in Cuba and the water cuts out and there is no water for two days. Do you stay in? No. Not at all. Simply get some bottled water and take a shower as you would normally and continue.
My point here is you can adapt to almost any situation. And, if you do with a light heart, you will survive with no scars. In fact, you will be quite elated by your ability to overcome obstacles.
I bet you never considered adaptability to be a benefit of travel!
After you have conquered a couple of trips, domestic or international, you will get savvier. As with anything, the more experience you get, the more confidence you will acquire.
But the confidence translates far beyond the travel and into your day-to-day existence.
Being in a place where you do not know anyone helps you to gain confidence. And once you have it, you have it.
Provides Real-life Education
I have said all my life that travel is the best education that money can buy. And, unless you are planning to be a doctor or some other specialized professional, pack your bags and go.
It sounds so cliché when an experienced traveler says this, but it is the truth.
You will learn about everything from:
Languages, language barriers and how to overcome them
Culture and what this means outside of the US
Politics outside of the US which is dramatically different
What non-democracy is and feels like
How different levels of poverty and wealth shape people’s lives
How different religions dominate regions
I could go on and on, but you get the gist.
Meeting different people from vast cultures and societies provides an impossible education from a textbook or course. There is no substitute for the real thing.
Even simple things like how news is presented in different countries will give you a wake-up call. Some counties oppress all news other than the government’s version. Aka, there is only one “truth.” Some countries’ news outlets are so unbiased and neutral that it questions what we consume here in the US (left or right).
If I had to give you one reason to travel or my favorite benefit of travel, it is for the educational aspect.
Traveling Makes You Smarter
Hand in hand with education, the more you travel, the smarter you become. I have learned so much from different places it would be hard even to start that list. A recent and prevalent experience for me was in Bogota, Colombia.
I was fortunate enough to visit over Easter, a deeply religious time for Catholics. I learned in-depth aspects of the Catholic Religion and its significance on the local culture and beliefs. You may read this and say, blah, you can get that here in the States.
Well, yes and no. I can assure you that almost all observe Colombian adherence to religion and traditions. And, rituals are not a la carte like they are here in the US.
You Become More Interesting
Think about it, you will always have a story, always have a tale to tell, and you will have some narratives worthy of holding court if you get adventurous.
A word of caution here. No one likes a showoff. And, almost everyone I know loathes the competitive conversationalist that launches into “have you been here”, “have you done this and that”. You have all met this character and it is annoying.
Be humble and share naturally as conversations evolve.
Travel Makes You Love Your Home Even More
Traveling is fantastic. It is amazing. The only thing that competes is that first night back at home in your own bed.
I am a bed fanatic. I spare no expense on a good night’s sleep. You spend at least a third of your life in bed, so a bed should be a good one.
Outside of getting in your own bed. It is always great to see your family, friends, and pets.
Encourages You to Collect Experiences – Not Things
We cannot take all the material possessions we have collected with us wherever we go after this life.
Technically speaking, you cannot take the experience. I mean, you cannot package it up in a bottle.
For sure, what is rich or poor, good or bad health? Your experiences are yours and yours alone?
Most importantly, you get to keep them forever and onto the next place, even if only in spirit.
Let us You Create Memories.
Brian and I often travel with friends and in a group. Over the years, it has become a new norm for us.
I also travel with my family, my girlfriends, and my nephew. And, I am not opposed to solo travel and often travel for work alone.
If you travel with friends and family, you build lifetime bonds through your experiences.
Ensures You Have Fun
Who does not want to have some fun? After all, this is probably why most people travel. Or, perhaps this is what most people would say is the main benefit of travel.
The options for a fun run as far as your imagination will take you.
I do not just mean the love of your family and friends. I am talking about you growing to love the people you meet on your journey. You will love many of the locations you visit.
Heck, you will love your new life more.
Gives You Something to Look Forward To
To this day, I still get excited about an upcoming trip. The anticipation always creates an electric excitement for me.
For me, it does not matter if we are going to the beach for a weekend or a long multi-country trip. I still get excited and count down the days.
Knowing there are trips planned gives me something to look forward to.
We all need something to look forward to.
Closing Thoughts About the Benefits of Travel:
Traveling is one of the most liberating gifts you can give yourself or someone else. Travel will enhance your personal growth, it will enable you to come out of your comfort zone, giving you a sense of independence to chase more of your dreams.
When was the last time you traveled? Where did you go, and what did you experience? Where are you planning to go next?
What other benefits of travel have you experienced?
Just remember, you only get one life – now is the time!
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.