Travel has been a constant in my life for only about five years, yet I honestly can’t even think what I would do without it. The thought of catching a “travel bug” might not make sense to those who haven’t experienced traversing foreign lands, meeting people from all walks of life and jumping on a plane at every opportunity. Yet it’s very real and I have to thank travel for so many things. It’s changed my outlook on life and made me the person that I am today. It continues to shape me and help me grow and learn incredible things about the world.
Here’s exactly How Travel Changed My Life
I grew up fascinated by geography – I had a huge world map in my room and always tried to learn as many capital cities as I possibly could. Ever since I could remember, I’d scour the map for countries, islands, lakes and seas and asked questions about them. This love continues to this day – I love taking online quizzes and being tested by friends. While I travelled quite a bit as a kid, my first proper adventure was at the age of 20 when I travelled all the way to Australia on a study exchange. It was an incredible experience. Fittingly, it was my next trip Down Under five years later that helped me make a big life decision. I moved to Brisbane and that marked the start of a new chapter in my life – one full of travel, adventure and discovery. I owe a lot to travel – here’s how travel changed my life and maybe how it could change yours too!
Travel Has Made Me More Adventurous
I wouldn’t say that I was ever averse to being adventurous or trying new activities. It’s just I never sort of did it. I was pretty content with my relatively ordinary life at home. I decided to travel because one day I thought to myself – “will I look back at my twenties and be satisfied with what I’ve achieved and done?” So I moved to another country. And that was the best thing I’ve ever done.
It woke something up in me and since then, travelling has become a priority. When I don’t travel, I think, talk or read about it. With this passion (and my love of exercise) came the desire to be adventurous – from hiking through Borneo jungles to kayaking and cliff jumping in Croatia or running down a mountain in Utah, pushing myself has become a theme on most of my trips. Those that know me, will attest that I am not truly happy unless I am clambering up a mountain somewhere, cycling through dusty backroads or white water rafting down some river rapids.
Travel Constantly Challenges Me
As I’ve become more adventurous, I have also found that I enjoy pushing myself to my limits. I have always challenged myself to achieve as much as I could but travel has made it fun – I love planning challenging hikes, trying my hand at new activities and basically making sure that my trips are as far away from being “a relaxing holiday” as they could be. Beware those that want to travel with me!
I guess I want to see how far I can push my body while I still can – at 32, I feel absolutely fantastic and as long as my fitness levels allow me, I will continue challenging myself both at home and on my travels.
Travel Has Helped Me Learn About Other Cultures
Learning about and experiencing local culture, traditions and food, in my eyes, is an intrinsic part of travel. I don’t see it as a by-product of my trips, but an essential element! I feel that you can learn so much about a new city or country by coming in contact with its residents, points of interest and tasty specialties.
Being open to learning about new cultures has helped me become more open-minded, tolerant and changed my perspectives on the world. Going out there and experiencing everything this world has to offer is truly an eye-opening experience.
Travel Has Taught Me How To Discover
Immersing yourself in a destination is a great way to understand what it’s about and get the most out of your trip. And, yes, that means putting away the map and just…getting lost. While I am not saying that “touristy” places don’t offer an accurate representation of local culture – they have become popular for a reason, after all – for a true authentic experience, it’s always good to go slightly off-the-beaten-path. I’ve had some of the most memorable experiences when I turned off into an unmarked alleyway or tried a café that wasn’t listed in my guidebook.
Next time you travel, say yes to new experiences – take part in a traditional ceremony, try something you wouldn’t normally eat at home or just wander around aimlessly. I guarantee you will have some incredible experiences and learn more about the place you’re visiting than you ever would from TripAdvisor.
Travel Helped Me Understand Importance of Sustainability
Travel is fun and exciting but it also has power to do a lot of good. We can have long-lasting, positive effects on our travels through sustainable practices. While many travellers don’t think about what kind of footprint we leave during our trips, doing so can make a huge difference to the areas and communities you visit.
From activities that help preserve natural environments and feed money back into communities to eating locally sourced food and supporting social enterprises, we can all positively impact places we visit. While I am not saying that I always travel in a most sustainable and responsible way, it is definitely something that I am a lot more conscious about than I used to be. I try and do my bit by staying in locally owned accommodation such as guesthouses or AirBNBs, eating in local restaurants and taking part in tours/activities that support the environment and provide jobs in local communities.
Travel Helped Me Tackle My Fears
Travel has helped me overcome my anxieties and fears and let me experience some pretty cool things. I wouldn’t say I am afraid of the water but I am not a great swimmer – so doing my Open Water Scuba Diving course wasn’t necessarily my most sensible idea. Yet, I did it and it was one of the most incredible experiences ever! Prior to travelling, I’ve also never been on a motorbike as I had a not-so-irrational fear of crashing. Having covered many parts of Thailand on a scooter, I am now (almost) a pro! Also, while I don’t think I will ever be fully comfortable with flying, I am a lot better than I used to be – turbulence no longer makes me break out in sweat!
Travel Leads To Lifelong Friendships
A few years ago it would have been pretty difficult to imagine that I would meet so many of my close friends through travel. Yet, my travel friendships are some of the most important and strongest connections that I have today. Meeting people from all over the world is exciting and a great way to learn about other cultures. I love the fact that I have friends in so many corners of the world and seeing them after a long time apart is one of the most rewarding experiences out there.
Travel connects people like nothing else and sharing adventures and experiences with other like-minded people is one of the joys of travelling. Here’s to making more awesome friendships in the future!
Travel Has Made Me More Confident
I was the “quiet kid” at school and while I never really had problems making friends, I wasn’t the most confident person in the world. While sport has had a massive part in me becoming more assured in myself and my abilities, travel has had a huge impact on my social skills and confidence. As mentioned above, I’ve met some incredible people from all over the world, many of whom I still call close friends to this day.
Travelling (especially solo) is a great confidence booster. Interacting with locals in a foreign language, trying new foods and meeting new people can all seem intimidating at first but, with time, can become second nature. My experiences abroad have definitely helped – I am comfortable striking up conversations with strangers or using a new language without feeling self-conscious. I’m happy to eat street food and take public transport even if I just arrived somewhere for the first time.
Travel Made Me Better At Managing Money
Now, I am actually not that great at saving. While I am good at giving advice on how to save and make the most of your finances when planning to travel and actually being on the road, I don’t necessarily always follow my own advice. I spend way too much money on coffee at home and I eat around double that of a normal person when I am abroad – I need the energy as I exert myself a lot physically. Having said that, travel has definitely made me a lot better at this stuff – I try not to buy things I don’t need and instead save for trips and experiences. I do a lot of research to get the best deals on travel and save money on things like flights and accommodation. If I happen to be travelling longer term, I also try and set aside budgets for things like food and fun activities.
Travel Made Me Appreciate What I’ve Got
Travelling in certain parts of the world really opened my eyes to how lucky I am to be in the position I am in. I’ve cycled through Bangkok slums and visited remote communities in Vietnam – I’ve seen people living in poverty, without electricity or even running water. Yet these people were still happy, waving and smiling as we passed by and making the most of what they’ve got.
Travel is a privilege and not an entitlement. Those of us who have an opportunity to travel and see the world are very fortunate and should never lose sight of that fact! Travel also opened my eyes to the relative unimportance of physical possessions – experiences and memories are more important than cars, clothes and technology – and how lucky I am to afford a mobile phone that cost more than someone’s annual salary.
And finally (and arguably, most importantly)
Travel Helped Me Become an Expert in Geography Trivia
Just saying. If you ever need someone with in-depth knowledge of obscure world capitals to complete your pub quiz/trivia team, I am your man.