“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” –Augustine of Hippo
I hear the same thing over and over. One of the biggest regrets that people in mid-life have is that they didn’t travel more when they were young. The truth is that once kids and mortgages and jobs settle in, it’s just harder to do. I had the privilege of getting to travel a lot in my twenties and thirties and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Here’s why.
1. It’s always an adventure
First off, besides the fact that travel is just plain fun, I think there’s something deep down in every one of us that longs to get off the beaten track. I mean who doesn’t want to get away from the rat race and set off on an adventure? I suppose some people. But since you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you’re like me. You look for ways to add adventure to your life.
2. It makes you more interesting
You’re at a party and everyone around you is doing their best at small talk when you say, “that reminds me of a time when I nearly married a native girl in Madagascar.” The room gets quieter. Heads look your direction. People want to wander into your conversation. You are suddenly the most interesting person in the room. (For the record, I’ve never been to Madagascar, but I did almost land in prison in China. But that’s another story…)
3. It opens up your heart
Americans live at the very top of the scale in terms of quality of life. The rest of the world doesn’t have it so easy. There’s nothing like walking through a small village in Northern India or joining in on a soccer match with orphans in a slum in Nairobi to make you realize how good you have it. You can’t see the hurting parts of the world and not want to do something about it. Guaranteed, you’ll live the rest of your life differently.
4. It puts life in perspective
Most of us grow up with everyone and everything around us catering to making us happy. My friends, my coffee, my car, my life. Its pretty easy to begin to feel like we’re the only ones in the world. Travel helps us realize that we’re all part of the much bigger family of humanity. Its not all about us after all. Who knew?
5. It will make you feel rich
I remember reading in Tim Ferris’ book about the practice of re-defining what it means to be rich, based on what really matters to you. What makes me feel rich or privileged? Cars, money, homes? Not for me. When I’m sitting in a small cafe in the middle of the rainforest with my wife, drinking a freshly brewed (and authentic) cappuccino, I feel rich. Who gets to do this? Me, that’s who. Life is good. I’m one of the lucky ones.
6. It gives you an appreciation for beauty
The pyramids in Egypt, the frescoes in Italy, the paintings in the D’ Orsay in Paris, the streets of Austria. And that doesn’t even include the natural beauty that’s everywhere. What about Victoria Falls or the moors of Scotland or the winding trails of the Himalayan range. Travel reveals beauty in ways that staying put never could.
7. It will turn you into a foodie
OK, this might be the best part, certainly for some of us. I mean, what about Chinese food in China or pizza in Italy or a fine cabernet while sitting in the Medoc region of France. Come on with it. Travel rule: never, never eat at McDonald’s. Sure, they are everywhere but so is opportunity to try and enjoy so many amazing new things. You’ll never order the same way again.
8. It will inspire your work
Whatever you do, international travel will likely inspire how you do it, why you do it and maybe even where you do it. As a writer, travel always fuels my imagination and creativity. A lot of young entrepreneurs are increasingly choosing careers that allow them to work remotely while staying connected to colleagues. Thank you, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
9. It will help you take risks & be flexible
Flights change, hotels lose your registration, trains break down. You don’t recognize anything on the menu. You can’t speak the language. You suddenly realize that you’ve been dropped off in the wrong part of town. Things happen. When you travel, you learn to take risks (hopefully measured ones) and be flexible. You have to. When you get home, things that used to seem like a big deal just aren’t anymore.
Without a doubt, travel will change you, for good. Every time. Sure, it takes time and some money. But it’s worth it. When I graduated from high school, my grandfather was going to buy me a really sweet watch as a gift. Instead, I asked him if I could use the money to travel. He loved the idea. That began a life of travel that has taken me to 60+ countries and forever changed me.
Did you travel young? Do you want to? Why do you travel or what travel tips do you have that have helped you the most?