Everyone should travel more. Easy to say but not always convincing, because let's face it - there are also lots of reasons why people decide not to travel. Money, kids, risk of getting sick in a foreign country and so forth. However, there are numerous benefits to travel that are difficult to gain anywhere else and make it extremely worth it. Here are my top ten.
1. Changes Your Perspective - you can't travel and not gain a different perspective on life and the world. And most often this change is towards greater tolerance and awareness with less pity for oneself.
2. Make More Friends - one of the great pleasures of travel is meeting new people who often have fascinating backgrounds and stories. We are currently in Mexico and just had a lovely chat with a Romanian karate master living in Vancouver, and a young man who just graduated from Berkley and is spending the next three months traveling the world before heading back to Japan to pursue business. Can you meet people like this where you live? Probably, but there is something about travel that brings strangers into easy conversation and deepens bonds as you experience something new together.
3. Learn - as much as you may read, there is nothing like doing and seeing to sear something into your memory. People who travel can converse about geography, culture, and food while also possessing enviably large skill sets that include such things as the ability to shift a manual vehicle with their left hand while driving on the opposite side of the road. All of this is awesome.
4. Builds Confidence - there's nothing like successfully riding a train across India, hitchhiking through Iceland, or managing to order food solely based on hand signals to build your confidence. When you travel you are forced into uncomfortable and challenging situations that when successfully navigated, gives you a huge confidence boost. Hopefully not in a way that makes you become cocky and reckless, but in a way that makes you feel that you have a solid head on your shoulders that can take on new things and figure them out.
5. Become a Better Conversationalist - ever felt like you had nothing to add to a conversation or felt like you were a boring date? Never again if you've traveled enough. You'll be able to engage the humanitarian with information from projects you've been a part of, the date with stories of your adventures, the brainiac with endless facts and numbers, and your friends with amusing tales - something you're bound to have plenty of if you have the right attitude!
6. Learn New Languages - not only is it satisfying to learn another language (or at least reach conversational level), it looks good on resumes (unless it's a dialect from Papua New Guinea that only a few hundred people speak) and makes travel easier. Of course you took language courses in school, but there is nothing like using a language in its own country to gain proficiency.
7. Find Your Soul Mate - if you're single and adventurous, let me tell you that I've known a lot of people who find The One while on the road or on some kind of humanitarian endeavor. The reason is simple. If you're out doing that kind of stuff, chances are that you're hoping to meet someone who's into that stuff too. Have similar life goals is a big deal. But sometimes it seems impossible to find someone willing to do that kind of thing. And then you head out into the world and find an amazing guy teaching kids in an orphanage and... he's single! Because, he's been waiting for a lady like you to join him where he's at, doing what he loves.
8. Because It's Fun - that's a good enough reason to do something, right?
9. Learn More About Yourself - this sounds cliché and yet travel has a way of opening your eyes to things that you didn't know about yourself. It might be good things, like discovering that you're stronger and braver than you though, or it might be unpleasant things that you can work on, like getting stressed too easily or being judgmental.
10. Stories When You're Old - travel gives you truthful tales to tell your grandkids and assisted living friends in lieu of big fish stories. Don't think so? Just this year we trekked near some of the highest mountains in the world, visited the second most populous city in the world, lived to tell of our scariest small plane landing to date, and survived multiple earthquakes in a foreign country just to name a few.