Traveling can be a wonderful experience, and something that gives you joy far beyond simply going to a popular tourist site and taking some photos. During my time on the road and in meeting many people who have done significant travel, the common thread is that travel can broaden your horizons, make you a wiser person, understand your culture and others more and appreciate your privileged life a whole lot more. I thought it would be fun to collect some of the best answers to the question of how travel has enriched your life, and compile them all into one post.
I hope this will serve as a good resource to point people who have never traveled abroad and can’t understand what the fuss is about. 🙂
Below are the best submissions I’ve received on this topic, which I strongly recommend having a read through. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did. Also, if you have anything to add to this topic, you’re welcome to make a submission here.
I've always said that Travel is the only thing that you can buy that makes you rich. When I decided that I wanted to visit as much of the world as I can before I turn 50, I had no idea how much better my life would become due to travel. I currently travel with my youngest daughter who recently celebrated her 8th birthday, and I relish our experiences together.
Travel has not only brought us closer but together we have experienced new places, immersed ourselves in cultures, even learn a few phrases in foreign languages and made new friends worldwide. Travel has made me realize that although we may be from different parts of the world, we aren't that much different. We may speak differently, wear different clothing but we all want the same things in life. We all want to be happy and to live freely.
The memories that we create through travel, give us stories to tell to our children, and maybe later, our grandchildren. Travel allows you to broaden your horizons and redefines your way of thinking. The things that you thought were so important before, really wasn't. So get out of your comfort zone and travel, and remember, all travel is travel.
--AnnMarie John, AnnMarieJohn.com
I was abandoned in Paris by a former best friend in my early 20's back before smart phones, crowdsourcing and shared economy options. I stayed in the city and learned how to navigate on my own, making the best of the situation. I emerged a solo traveler and have traveled to 50 countries in the years since. It was the best thing to happen to me to teach me how to be alone in the world while still being curious to learn more about myself, cultures and people. Since then I use travel to reset my mind, body and soul as I escape the daily stress bubble of life and become an explorer. I love to connect with folks around the world and share my stories to inspire others that it's ok to venture out on your own.
--Suzanne Wolko, PhilaTravelGirl
Every chance I get, I travel. And from every travel, both small and big ones, I always come back with a sense of the place and the people that live there. It helps me to understand their culture, experience their cuisine and customs. It is a thoroughly enriching experience, particularly when it comes to fashion. It is very enlightening to see how other people relate to their clothing, what every garment means to them and how they express themselves through it. It is amazing, and it teaches you a lot about the world and the impact of a culture over their textiles.
--Joe Flanagan, 90s Fashion World
As a travel devotee and community advocate, travel is very near and dear to my heart. It isn't just a part of my profession, it is my life! At Wild Bum, we believe travel is not a luxury, but rather an essential part of our health and well-being. Let me count the ways travel has enriched my own life... My husband and I prioritize travel with and without our kids. We whole-heartedly believe that travel has strengthened our relationship, cognitive health, and overall well-being. Last year, our kids raised $13k to re-open a school in Kenya. We traveled there and met the students and teachers who live in a tiny Samburu village in Laikipia, making the long and strenuous trek up a mountain to their school, re-opened the doors, made brooms out of leaves from the nearby bushes and cleaned each classroom, which had been occupied by bats and birds since its doors has been closed. We played soccer and jump rope and even though we didn't speak the same language, we learned that connection can occur without words. It's made through the universal language of sports and laughter!
This is an experience my entire family will forever remember, shaping my young kids into the worldly and kind young adults we hope them to become. We live not by word, but by example! By real experiences.
I am also fortunate to curate and guide women's dance & service adventures! I bring groups of close to 30 women to Guatemala where we've installed water filter and stoves into the homes of Mayan women, El Salvador where we renovated a rural school and most recently, Colombia , where we helped fund and build the first-ever community center in a rural area! These trips are life-changing! I have the gift of experiencing how these magical travels impact not only the communities we visit but the women who come on the adventures. We dance and work hard, but also experience the local culture, laugh until our bellies ache, play games and enjoy cocktails and R&R - these adventures are all about connection and feeling more like ourselves - returning a better mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister and on and on.
I always say that travel is the gift that keeps on giving.
And, building Wild Bum - an online global marketplace that offers comprehensive, curated travel guides. Designed by Guide Architects—real travelers who are passionate about sharing their insider travel knowledge. Providing a blueprint for travelers around the world to plan their next adventure. It is founded on the fact that travel enriches our lives - cultivating a global community who feel it's profound impact. It is everything.
Counting down the days until we hit the roads, the skies and everything in-between so we can start exploring this incredible planet we call home.
--Mollie Krengel, Wild Bum
In 2001, at the age of 21 and having just graduated from college in computer science, I made a decision that changed the trajectory of my life. I decided to go to Egypt. One month turned into 11 months which literally changed how I see the world. That trip to Egypt allowed me to learn more about myself and my place in the world, but it also gave me a rich opportunity to learn more about the many different ways of being human. After Egypt, I was bit by the travel bug and I decided to take a position working in international development. I was stationed in Sierra Leone.
It was there that my mind was stretched again. I went on to get my Masters in Cultural Anthropology and many years later, I began to organize cultural tours for other women. When I would return from a trip, I always had lot of people with questions. How were the people? Weren't you scared? How did you get around if you don't speak the language?
These questions pushed me to want to provide safe, off the beaten path experiences for others. Rather than making it my full-time gig, I typically organize one to two annual experiences and these have been life-changing for me and the women who come with me.
Transformative travel literally gives me life. It informs all of my work with publishing, exhibit curation and the like.
--Zarinah El-Amin, Book Power Publishing
Last March, I left my full time job and traveled the world for the year as I grew my travel site, TripTins.com.
Prior to leaving, I never thought that I would be someone who had it in me to take such a big risk. To leave my comfortable job and apartment and go out to travel the world, making barely any money and backpacking through hostels, is something I could not imagine doing.
However, by taking that one big risk in my life has opened up so many more doors than I could have imagined. Along the way I have been able to meet some incredible people, both travelers and locals, who have taught me so much in so many different ways. I now have a global network of people to reach out to in every corner of the world who come from all different paths of life. Whether it be an award winning travel photographer or a local volcano guide, it has been life changing meeting these people.
The trip also made me push both my mental and physical limits and has showed me that if I really wanted to accomplish something, all I had to do is set my mind to it and work towards that goal. Whether it be hiking up over 7,000 feet of elevation in a day or growing my site from a couple hundred visitors a day to over 1,500 - as long as I focused in on my goals, I could accomplish them.
The decision to travel has been the most rewarding one I have ever made and I can't wait to help other people travel in the future.
--Charles Breitbart, TripTins.com
Where do I start? I grew up on a plane and in airports, basically. My dad flew for TWA from the late '60s until 2000. I flew carte blanche until I turned 24.
For me, travel gave me insight and understanding beyond my primary school in central Kentucky. I knew the world was round and many other cultures in it. After my time in England, Spain, and Greece, I could tell my classmates about the cultures I experienced firsthand. When I returned from Greece in fourth grade, I got to tell my class about the Acropolis and ancient Greek art. I dressed up as the Oracle of Delphi (or what I thought she looked like) and told some of the Greek myths in a creaky voice.
In later years, I turned to more educational travel--I spent time in Eastern Europe and Israel, studying Holocaust memory in villages that lost their Jewish population due to the Nazis. This became the beginning of my master's thesis in graduate school.
Now, I travel to see what I cannot see in my current location. I'm planning a trip to see the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan. I want to immerse myself in a natural event that an entire country embraces for a month with festivals and events.
Most people in my area barely get out of central Kentucky, let alone the globe as I did and continue to do. I hope my travels give others insight into a wider world.
--Lisa R. Kindel
I moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand in May of 2018, and I ended up living there for 16 months. Before moving to Thailand, I had only ever traveled to westernized countries. My time spent in Thailand changed my life more than any of my other travel experience because of how different the culture is there. Thailand is a Buddhist country, and I spent most of my childhood growing up in Nashville, Tennessee. Most people in the south of the United States have the same religious beliefs and vote similarly. It was an enriching experience to spend such a long time in a country where their entire culture is formed by Buddhist beliefs, and they have a monarchy. It drastically changed my world view about how there isn’t one “right” way to live.
--Haley Gallerani, theveganabroadblog.com
Early on in my career I was what's known as a digital nomad. This is someone who works remotely and has no home base. Living the life of a digital nomad was something that I always dreamed of. I mean who doesn't want to wake up and go to work in some of the most desirable places in the world. I've lived and worked in everywhere from Bali, Bangkok, Taipei, Istanbul, Prague, Cape Town, Mexico City, San Juan del Sur, Medllin, Lima, and Rio de Janeiro. One of the best things about working and living abroad was being able to meet people and develop friendships all over the world. Traveling for some people can be extremely intimidating if they've never done it before. But the best advice I can give someone looking to travel, is just get out there and go. And once you start traveling, you'll quickly realize that it's probably one of the best decisions you've ever made.
--Ryan Roller, Bead the Change
My travel story began at age 16 with a high school trip to Spain. I hated the flights, but putting a language I learned for years in school with a country in which the language was spoken was life changing for me. I knew it was the beginning of an addiction. A few years later, following friends as they went home to Israel further fueled the need to travel, discover new countries and cultures. In Israel I met my husband so travel there with our children was yearly. Not only did they learn about the cultures which makes up the melting pot of the country, their wanderlust was born.
About 24 years ago I was given an opportunity to take a part time administrative position in a new travel agency. While there I learned the business and eventually left my full time job for the travel industry. Sharing my travel experiences and helping others explore the world and cultures excites me. I want others to find the love I’ve found through travel.
Travel has given me the ability to understand the world better, appreciate other cultures as I visit new destinations and participate in tours learning history and customs first hand. Hearing personal stories about families and generations before them creates bonds with the story teller and the country.
So much amazes me as I look at my surroundings. Scenery painted with colors of a city or rural villages, art and architecture, to nature and safaris, captures my heart and my camera lens. Then there is local cuisine and beverages. There is much to please the palate.
I feel blessed I’ve been able to travel the world and meet new people. I can’t imagine not having the ability to continue my journeys or to help others fulfill their travel dreams.
--Adrienne Sasson, Rubinsohn Travel
Traveling widens your perspective - you get to see how others live, how other cultures thrive, and how there's beauty behind it all. In India, I got to experience how many live with only a few personal belongings in their homes, but they are so happy, content, and welcoming to others. The love from their family was all they need and a cup of chai. When I came home from that trip, I didn't want to shop instead I ended up cleaning out my closet and donating clothes. It completely brought my priorities into perspective.
--Alisha Chocha, Roam Often
They say the person who leave home for travel, does not come back as the same person. This statement is very true. Travel changes people on a fundamental level I feel.
For myself, I think of a 2-month trip I did with my older sister to Itlay. We spent 1-month backpacking around, then the second in Venice doing a printmaking and drawing class. I was hesitant to go on this trip at first. I was a young guy, had a girlfriend back home, friends, parties to go to. I am glad however I opted to travel.
The experience of seeing another land, experiencing the people, foods, songs, and dance left me deeply moved. It changed the direction I was heading in. After this trip, I did a few other solo trips. Through South East Asia, and a 2-month stint on a sailboat. Each time, the thrill and excitement of travel building.
Now, I have my own travel blog and am pressing a life of adventure and travel, far from my initial direction of going into 3D animation. One world behind a computer, the other behind sunglasses.
Travel. It changes a person for the better.
--Tim Mack, RoamingSprrow.com
I don't know about others but traveling has certainly made a lot of impact on my personality.
I was a shy kid. As a teenager, I had to think ten times before I could talk to strangers. I just couldn't. We were a bunch of teenagers who decided to visit Australia but just few days before we were supposed to travel I fell ill and I couldn't go.
After a few weeks, my friends came back and they told me how much fun they had and I was very disheartened.
One day I came across an article that said about benefits of traveling alone so I read it and then decided that no matter what, I will travel to Australia alone. So I packed my bags, booked tickets and headed to Australia alone.
I was very nervous and scared. If I had to ask people about something I used to be very apprehensive but gradually I felt comfortable and then became more and more confident. I was in Australia for two weeks , visited some amazing places, made new friends and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
I realized I became a confident person who could make his own decisions and it made me a better human being.
Till now I have made so many solo trips and I completely love it. I would definitely recommend to travel alone sometimes, trust me it will make you a better version of yourself.
--Sagar Sahay, Alpha Ragas
I fell in love with travel at age 16 when I was sent, somewhat against my will, to live with a French host family in Normandy, France. At the time, I was a shy, only child from New York. I was placed on a farm, in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly had 8 siblings, and could only speak French. I came away from this experience fluent in French, amazed at the depth of conversation I could have with people in their language, and the feeling that I had enlarged my family.
Since that summer, over 30 years ago, I've been to roughly 50 countries and studied four more languages. In 2018, I became a nomad and have been solo traveling full-time.. Here are some of the ways travel has enriched my life:
I have friends from all over the world who teach me different ways of life, different viewpoints, and have introduced me to beautiful traditions as well as the good and bad aspects of each of their countries.
I've gotten to try foods I would have never heard of if I never traveled the globe. Guinea pig in Peru, kudu, springbok, ostrich and warthog in Africa, and asado in Argentina.
I've gotten to taste, and get the history of, some of the best wines around the world; Pinotage in Africa, Malbec in Mendoza, Tannat in Uruguay.
I've challenged stereotypes and judgments about places that were based in news and stories that simply don't align with the in-country experience. In Colombia my fears of guns and drugs have been replaced with memories of kind people, beautiful scenery and some of the best coffee in the world. I've learned that the government of a country, and the people of a country, are very different.
I've stepped outside my comfort zone and dared to be more adventurous (ziplining for the first time in Costa Rica), be more bold (talk to anyone, anywhere and accept invitations to join people at their table), and be happier with less.
Space on this planet has been an amazing part of travel. Being from Manhattan, and going to places in Africa with thousands of miles of empty land that belongs to the most beautiful animals I've ever seen took my breath away.
My photos are an everlasting testament to the experiences I've had tasting, exploring, touching, smelling and witnessing life all over the globe. They are an eternal set of memories of colors, places and people that remind me how lucky I am to have seen everything first-hand.
I've been deeply humbled by levels of poverty I never got so close to, and then felt more appreciated and useful than ever when I went into those communities to be of service.
I've connected to myself in ways I never expected that led me to create deeper connections with people and places. I've confronted personal issues, learned to love who I am, and developed my intuition which has never led me astray. (Only not listening to it has!)
Travel has allowed me to see how present manifesting is in my life. No sooner do I realize I need something than it shows up, I'm so grateful!
--Heather Markel, Heather Begins
Travel has been both the most enriching, and life-changing, experience for me during my 20s. Through travel, I have gained a sense of confidence and independence I think I would have lacked if I never adapted this lifestyle. The memories I have made, the way it has challenged me, and opened my mind to new experiences and cultures has made me open-minded and adaptable.
All these traits have moulded me into a person who isn’t afraid of saying “yes.” And this spontaneity learned from years of travel brought my to my now-fiancé Sebastian ... who I met on the road! After only knowing each other for twelve hours, we stayed in touch. He lived in Sweden, I lived in Canada. People thought we were crazy. But a year later and I was moving to Sweden and now we travel the world together, making so many memories we can tell our children and grandchildren about.
Travel has fully enriched my life through experiences and lessons learned, but it has also changed my life forever.
--Madeline Robson, Madeline Rae Away
Travel has enriched my life in so many ways. Seeing the world has allowed me to experience other cultures, learn about other ways of life and celebrate the differences. It's taken me on unforgettable adventures and shown me beautiful sights, and challenged me in ways I could never have imagined which in turn taught me things about myself and helped me grow as a person - and introduced me to friends I may not have found otherwise. I travel for the thrill of seeing all the beauty in the world, to learn and to live a life with no regrets. All of this makes me appreciate everything I have in life - my home, my family, my friends and reminds me that I owe it to myself to embrace life and to use every opportunity I have to create and live an incredible life.
--Vicki Louise, MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld
I quit my fancy corporate job in 2015 where I was working 12-14 hours daily sometimes on weekends too, sitting behind a 4x4 size cubicle writing proposals and presentations for clients I was least bothered to work with. After severe health issues due to my stressful job I quit and moved back to India and started traveling across the country mostly to places that were abundant in nature, wildlife and away from people / hustle bustle. Since, I started traveling and more so since I founded my tour company I've been extremely happy and satisfied although the money is not that great compared to what I was making when in corporate. I took a leap of faith and after 3 years I now have started seeing the benefits. I have the pleasure to work when I want, how I want, on my own terms and to work with who I want - 95% of my clients were a blast to travel with. They came from all kinds of backgrounds and demographics - from a 75 year old single American woman on crutches to a 8 year old aspiring photographer.
Travel has made me wiser maybe not in the typical academic sense but more so on general knowledge, culture, jungle craft, survival and our impact on wildlife and nature. Travel has made me more aware of what I should consume, how much of it I should consume and how to be a responsible citizen on this planet. I am confident that I wouldn't have acquired any of this sitting in my fancy corporate cubicle.
--Kunal Jain, To Travel With
Travel has enriched my life in a few ways, but it started very much in an educational setting. Learning languages at school meant that I was part of exchange trips to both France and Spain. We not only visited both countries and stayed with a similarly aged student, but we also welcomed those students into our homes too. Aside from making lifelong friends from the trips, travelling there forced me to apply my knowledge of the language, which helped me to communicate with the students and their families in their own tongue. You can create a real connection with people by talking to them in their own language and sharing stories from your own culture and hearing stories from theirs.
The other big way that travel has enriched my life is by providing a sense of scale. Growing up we didn’t go on many holidays so I was always quite insulated in the UK. It was only through a charity trip to a township in South Africa, where we built a library and netball court for a local school, that I realised just how much of the world I had no knowledge of. Driving through the township we saw thousands of people living on streets that less than 100 would live on back home. Nowhere before then had I appreciated the scale of humanity living on this planet, nor just how much of the world there is to see.
--Dan Steeden, Horo Travel Memories
I'd like to actually talk more about how it's enriched my children's lives, though it does start with us. 10 years ago I hadn't traveled at all outside of my own countries, and my husband introduced me to the beauty of international travel. When we had kids, it was clear to us that we wouldn't stop exploring the world and that we would hand down this love to our children. Traveling with them has completely opened their eyes to different cultures. The biggest country to have an impact on them was Japan this past summer - my eldest was 7.5 and my twins turned 5 in Japan. My daughter came back and did a presentation about Japan to the whole class. Last year, we visited Normandy and when we returned she also taught them about Normandy. Not only have they learned about history through their own eyes, but they have honed their presentation skills, public speaking, and have a generally broad outlook on life. On a personal level, when they were younger, we searched for information about Singapore with kids in Hebrew and were unable to find it, which lead us to open a Facebook group, called Traveling Overseas with Kids (in Hebrew) and the accompanying blog, so traveling has also lead us to change our professions, at least partially. I've attached a picture from our trip in Japan in case you'd like to use it.
--Talia Klein Perez, Traveling Overseas with Kids
It happened in 1994. Newly divorced and single, I wanted to get away, but had no-one to go on holiday with. Rather than sitting alone on a beach like Johnny No Mates, I decided on an activity holiday. Sailing, perhaps, or hiking – something sociable.
When a magazine flopped on to my doormat advertising, ‘Rafting The Zambezi – The River of the Gods’ I signed up straight away. I didn’t bother reading the description. I remembered something romantic about Victoria Falls and “Dr Livingstone I presume?” And since the word ‘rafting’, conjured up visions of floating along on a barn door, looking at wildlife, I thought doing it in Africa might be fun.
This was pre-internet, in 1994, remember. I had never heard of whitewater rafting. So, what happened next came as rather a surprise.
A few people mentioned things like, “The biggest white water in the world”, “Crocodiles” and “Hippos”, but I was not worried,
“Don’t be silly. Not where we’re going!”
It was the video of enormous, churning rapids at Harare airport which finally snapped me out of my blissful ignorance.
“Oh my word – that IS where we’re going!”
Murky green waves, fifteen feet high, tossed inflatable rafts and people into the air like rag dolls. That first night, we slept under the stars on the banks of the Zambezi below Victoria Falls. Known locally as *Mosi-oa-Tunya* – ‘The Smoke That Thunders’, we saw a lunar rainbow in the spray. There, we were briefed on how to avoid ‘large reptiles’ (crocodiles) and were read the riot act about hippos; “They kill more people in Africa than everything else put together.”
For the next six days, we tackled a multitude of the churning rapids that I had seen on the video. I hung on for dear life as I experienced the roller-coaster ride of my life. Did I mention that it’s some of the biggest white water in the world?
It was terrifying, exhilarating, intimidating and intoxicating. I was hooked!
Yet, away from the excitement and adrenalin, I enjoyed a sweet and simple life. I had two sets of clothes; wet and dry. In the tranquillity of nature, we cooked simple food each night over a wood fire. Sometimes, sleeping out in the open, I woke and just gazed at the magnificent canopy of stars above me and understood why my ancestors worshiped the heavens.
I felt privileged to experience a landscape that most people will never see, concealed as it is by sheer, four-hundred-foot cliffs and accessible only via the violent fury of the Zambezi’s Grade Five rapids. (Grade Six rapids are extreme and often un-runnable!)
Six days and 60km later at the Kariba Dam, I was a different person. My hunger to see the world and really experience life had been fully awakened. I resolved to stop living my life in thin slices; a few weeks’ leave from work here and there was not enough.
Since then, I have travelled on six of the seven continents and rafted some of the biggest rivers in the world. In 1996, I asked my boss for ‘maternity leave’ to go backpacking around Australia and New Zealand. I met my husband in 1999. I want to go whitewater rafting! he told me. I am the whitewater rafting queen! I replied. 37 days later, we were engaged and married within the year.
Although it took until 2015 to get all the pieces in place, my husband and I finally managed to give up our jobs to travel full time with our four dogs. We now spend our summers touring in a caravan, with windsurf boards on the roof; the winters, we spend skiing.
Travel taught me that there is more to life than work-eat-sleep-repeat. It motivated me to find a way to give up the daily grind to do more of what I love. Travel also taught me that I don’t need much in the way of material things; I value experience over owning stuff - and I already have most of what I need to be happy.
--Jackie Lambert, World Wide Walkies
As a lifestyle and design professional, the ongoing development of my creative abilities is very important. Of the several things that I do to enhance my design sensibility and build on my creative skills, travel is first and foremost on the list.
My work has taken place globally and as such has provided many travel opportunities. A great plus, as I have had wanderlust for as long as I can remember! To experience a new place and delve into a new culture are things which I will never tire of, and these journeys have helped to further develop my worldwide perspective. I truly believe that when you are open to new experiences you allow yourself to become inspired.
I love the adventure of exploring someplace new and experiencing another culture; seeing new things, meeting new people. No matter where I have been, I always come back with new insights and inspirations. From the Art Nouveau details in Brussels or the light in Venice, travel thoroughly inspires my imagination.
--Denise Foley, denise-foley.com
I am a professional musician and vocalist aboard luxury cruiseships and have had the opportunity to travel around the world and make amazing memories while performing music.
Traveling has enriched my life in ways I could have never imagined, and the fact that performing music, my true passion, has brought me these opportunities is a dream come true. Visiting over 30 countries, I have been exposed to so many amazing cultures, languages, foods, historic landmarks and natural phenomenons. There are so many times I will take a photograph while traveling, look at it through the viewfinder and think “this will never do justice to what I’m witnessing right now”. Months later, when I’m looking at the same picture and thinking about how amazing it is, I remember how it will never compare to what I was experiencing in that moment. Traveling has given my life a sense of fulfillment and excitement that I had never felt at home, even though life as a professional musician in the city is never really dull.
However, the best part of traveling is the people I have met along the way, both locals and fellow travelers. I can confidently say I have a couch to sleep on anywhere in the world. Being able to experience so many amazing places with other people and create those memories together is priceless. I swear, I have met my future bridesmaids through traveling. Though we come from different places and have different backgrounds, it is rare to stumble across other women as equally adventurous and fearless.
--Alissa Musto, alissamusto.com
Traveling not only enriched my life; it changed it, and at age 64 I was ready for a change.
After a six-week trip between Spain and Portugal, constantly asking ourselves, Can we do this?, we actually did. The question was whether we could sell everything, leave kids, family and friends and become permanent Traveling Normads. After being unsuccessful getting a Spanish visa I decided Screw the visa, and instead learned how to play the Schengen Chess Game, which means bouncing in and out of the European Union and staying within their 90-day visa restrictions. It was actually pretty easy, and our safe havens of Croatia, Romania and the rest of Eastern Europe was a pleasant change.
Over 14 months we visited 23 countries, visited 300 plus cities and stayed in many locations for Six Weeks at a Time, which was the premise for my book of the same title. Our last long-term tenure was Southeast Asia, primarily Thailand, and that whole experience was a real test of our comfort zones. Add in the Coronavirus which surfaced in our backyards and it made our journeys challenging towards the end, always worried if we would get STOPPED at the border. But we did make it back to the US, and instead of being stuck THERE we went South of the Border to Mexico, which is where we are now. We were also the sole passengers on a Delta 737 from Ohio, so that in itself was a cool trip!
Has travel enriched me? Hell yes, and I wish I had done it when I was younger and had more stamina and energy, but even now I still do and teach fellow Baby Boomers how to Travel like a Millennial and to Travel Younger.
--Norm Bour, Travel Younger
I have built my life around travel because it has enriched my life so much! I used to teach International Business at a university in Texas. When my husband and I retired 3 1/2 years ago, we started traveling 9 months of the year in Europe. These are some of the ways that travel has enriched our lives:
*Travel Gives You the Chance to Try Incredible Food and Wine*
Food is one of the things I enjoy most as we travel through Europe. Enjoying the unique dishes in each place we travel, lovingly made by local people, is one of the many things I appreciate as we travel from place to place. And we love enjoying the wine and meeting the winemakers, too.
*Travel is Good for You*
We walk a lot when we travel. We get out and move. We hike, and bike and breath fresh air. This is all good for the body and good for the soul. This article in Forbes describes 5 Reasons Why Travel is Good for Your Mental Health . Each item on the list represents how travel contributes to your overall well-being.
*Travel Prompts you to Keep Learning*
I learn so much when I travel. I am reading a book right now called *The Shortest History of Europe* .. I don’t think I would have ever picked up this book if I hadn’t been traveling here and questioning how Europe came to be as it is today. There seems to be a history lesson around every corner in Europe. I feel like Europeans feel their history more than we do in North America.
*Travel Helps You Understand Other Cultures*
This may be my biggest take away from the traveling I have enjoyed over the years. The more I learn about people around the world, the more I discover that we are really all more alike than we are different. We all love our families. We thirst for meaning in life. We hunger to make our communities better. We all want to have balance and purpose in our life. We all need nourishment for our bodies and our souls.
As I travel, I learn that people in other places have different ways of doing things, and that’s OK! It’s even a good thing! We can learn from each other, appreciate each other, and accept one another. We don’t have to agree on how to do something – learning how others accomplish some of the same things makes us appreciate our own ways all the more.
*Travel Provides Lifetime Memories*
A popular saying these days is “buy experiences, not things”. The Atlantic published an article about this philosophy a few years back, and the sentiment is truer than ever. The experiences we invest in make us happier than the things that we buy.
What pulls on my heartstrings? Memories of travel with my family. That time we went to Scotland when our kids were 5 and 8 and we rode horses high above Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. The humor in reading to my kids about the Roman Forum when they were falling asleep from jet lag. The joy of hiking in Spain and enjoying a picnic at the top of a mountain. We ate local meats and cheese and drank wine out of the bottle at the summit. These kinds of experiences have enriched my life beyond my wildest imagination. It's why I love to help other people travel and explore the world!
--Betsy Ball, Euro Travel Coach
The biggest way that traveling has enriched my life is by providing me with a perspective on my own culture. You learn far more about your own culture when you’re away from it than you do while staying immersed in it. There are countless cultural norms that I previously thought were universal, many of which are taboo in other cultures. I never recommend people to travel and go to resorts. When I travel I love spending time immersing myself in the local culture and customs. Fortunately, there are a large portion of people around the world who speak English which makes interacting with other cultures, learning about them, and immersing yourself accomplishable. When you travel you experience new ways of doing things and interacting with people that is so beneficial for growth and enriching your life.
--Tim Bigknee, SightsAndInsights
Besides raising my two young children and being with my family, traveling is the second entity in my life that truly makes me happy. Though I did not start traveling until I got married and after my children were born (in my mid to late twenties), it has been what keeps my mind most active and curious about what is around me. I have particularly been very thankful for connecting with others online in social media groups, or through mutual friends who live all around the world. Over the past few years I have maintained contact with these individuals and even went to finally visit one of my 'virtual friends' in person in Australia last year. It was one of, if not the best trip I had ever taken. I will continue to do more of these types of trips in the foreseeable future.
Another way travel has enriched my life was through my daughter when I first brought her to the Caribbean and then with me for a month in Ireland and England. I was concerned, giving that she was five at the time, if she would enjoy it or appreciate it. These trips make up the majority of our conversations at home and she loves to reminisce about these trips through photos and recreating packing our luggages and pretending we are at the airport/on the plane.
By not only meeting new friends abroad but also introducing my young daughter to travel at a young age, these enriching experiences continue to inspire others around me. My cousin who is in his late-60's, for example, had never traveled extensively before, and he joined me recently on one of my trips to Europe. A friend of mine also joined me on a trip to Ireland last fall, inspiring even more travel adventures as she is now traveling more than ever before.
--Vanessa Gordon, East End Taste Magazine
My best trip I've ever taken - which definitely enriched my life - was taking a career sabbatical - I went on a round the world trip for a year just before I turned 30 (I'm now 46) - it was the best thing I ever did.
There was one major driver for this. I felt like I needed a break after going straight from school to university to work with a life threatening bout of cancer thrown in between. I just wanted to live life a lot more. I had actually caught the travel bug when I was sent to Kosovo for work, which was my first trip outside of Australasia. So taking a delayed 'gap year' was good timing. I feel that you have a bit more life experience and look for more than boozing up with others from your own country in terms of cultural experiences.
I travelled to 3 continents on a round the world trip - Africa, Europe and South America. I had saved up a lot of money during the previous couple of years to make sure I could finance my trip by budgeting for how long I was going to be away for. It was actually a good move, because the consulting firm I was working for went into a downtown and a number of people lost their jobs. By the time I came back, I went to work in another office in another city for a while so this worked out in the end!
I learnt that the more you learn about other countries, the more you learn about your own. I would definitely do it again! I just love the freedom of travelling by yourself without having to answer to anyone.
I would say anyone considering it, just do it. Plan to have no plans and just work out your entry/exit points. The best travel experiences I've ever had have been off the cuff. Whatever happens, you won't regret it! It was one of the happiest times of my life.
--Anthony, The Travel Tart
So far in my life, I attribute travel as the single thing that's had the biggest effect on my perspective and the way I see the world. By visiting other cultures, seeing and meeting new people, and simply exposing yourself to things massively different from what you're used to, you learn so much about the world and what it has to offer.
Before I went travelling, I admittedly had narrow, short-sighted opinions on things. I was close-minded and wasn't open to change.
Travel has changed all that for me. Experiencing new cultures and ideas has made me a more open-minded, accepting person which not only helps me as a person, but also benefits my career and business.
--Chane Steiner, Crediful
Travel has enriched my life in several ways. The most important of them being my confidence increasing as I now know that I can make it through most situations, however uncomfortable and uncertain they may be. My confidence began growing during my first solo trip to Southeast Asia where I backpacked alone in four different countries for three months.
Travel has also enriched my life with some amazing people that have become life-long friends - you meet so many interesting individuals from all walks of life from around the world when travelling! Even though I set off on my Asia adventures by myself initially, from the moment I stepped off the plane in Bangkok, I matched up with someone. So if the fear of travelling alone terrifies someone - it shouldn't! You'll be craving some alone time before you know it - I sure did!
--Loredana Gogoescu, Destguides
I was an exchange student in both high school and college. I lived with a family in southeast France for several months during my junior year of high school and on campus in Florence, Italy as part of my junior year in college. These experiences were both incredibly special and started my life long love affair with travel. I am still in contact with the family I lived with and returned for several of my sisters¹ weddings and have visited friends in both countries many times over the years since. When my husband and I were dating we took a trip to France and Italy because I knew I could not be serious with someone long term if he did not want to travel there with me and in fact he passed the test with flying colors. My friends and family in Europe agreed he was a keeper. I speak both French and Italian and try to keep up my language skills as much as possible. Two of my nieces studied abroad their junior year in high school as well and one went to college overseas too so the tradition continues! I am so grateful for the experience, it has enriched my life in so many ways.
Living in a foreign country during your teens and 20s can be a transformative experience. For me it became immediately apparent that there were far more similarities than differences. Fathers are strict with their teenage daughters, younger siblings can be annoying in any language, moms never like how the kids are dressed, teens break curfews and sneak cigarettes and alcohol with their friends, you get the idea. I believe if everyone in the world were free to travel and was encouraged to explore other cultures and ways of life there would be no more war in this world. It is hard to fight with people once you see their families love them as much as yours does you. They may eat different foods, listen to strange music, celebrate holidays you have never heard of and have customs you do not recognize but they also have parents, siblings, children, and grandparents they care about deeply just like you do. To travel is to learn, to grow, to appreciate. Studying and living overseas enriches your life by exposing you to new experiences, ways of thinking, people, sights, sounds, smells and flavors. Traveling gets you out of your routines and comfort zone. It is a great way to get your creative juices flowing and reenergize your life. When the synapses keep firing you ward off Alzheimer¹s too! Studying abroad as a teen gave me the confidence and sense of adventure that has stuck with me ever since.
--Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls
Everything in life has its purpose and place, for living, we need air, water, food, and shelter, etc. Similarly, we need things to full-fill our souls, such as music, leisure, and traveling. If I talk about traveling, it is one of those things which has given me tremendous opportunities to learn and appreciate the beauty of this world.
By traveling abroad to multiple countries, I came to know of several cultures, languages, and norms which were unknown to me. In addition to that, every country has its sort of architecture. Like in England and Wales, I saw multiple castles, and in the USA, I got an opportunity to see monumental skyscrapers, and that gave me the sense to appreciate the diversity of such architecture.
Moreover, not just learning how to light up your eyes with the magnificence of architecture, I also came across different people who taught me how their lives were; for instance, what was the local food? What was their routine in day to day activities? What kind of clothes their culture tells them to wear.
In general, traveling does give rest to our tired minds due to work or the same routine, and it is somewhat a great way of soul searching.
--Werner Jorgensen, HeatXperts
Traveling has certainly enriched my life! Hands down,* travel has made our family grow closer*. Instead of going in different directions we are exploring, laughing, discovering, learning, and telling stories...together. As a family we yearn for international adventure travel, ski trips, and a lot in between. We also save time for couples travel because a little R&R is good for everyone.
We have been to a lot of exciting places. My website articles share how family adventure travel does not have to break the bank. Writing about our travel adventures provided a much needed outlet while recovering from two hamstring tendon reattachment surgeries. *I now realize that travel enriches my life even more so: planning, experiencing, and sharing.* Life. Is. Beautiful.
--Marcy Fitzpatrick, Fitz Travel Bits
I am a travel coach who focuses on helping and empowering people to have meaningful experiences that improves their wellbeing and enriches their lives. My personal journey began in university as a wanderlust spirit with a broke college student budget. I struggled for years growing up and into my young adulthood with severe anxiety and depression. It was after graduating from university that I knew that something needed to changed. I was slipping into a deeper depression, felt lost and confused, and lacked any direction in my life, despite having a college degree. I knew in my heart that climbing the corporate ladder was not for me and I didn't want to live my life anyone just trying to make my family happy. I wanted, I needed, to find my passions and purpose in life. I needed to figure out who I was, what I wanted out of life, and what I didn't want. That's when I decided to take a very conventional route by packing a suitcase and setting off to explore the world. I had no idea how long I'd travel for, where exactly I would go, or what answers I was looking for. I thought maybe I'd travel for a month before coming back home and finding a real job. Little did I realize, travel was helping me in more ways than I imagined. I wound up traveling on and off for the next decade to over 84 countries as a solo female traveler.
Travel was not only my greatest professor but my healer. I was meeting incredible humans around the globe who opened my eyes to other ways of living, foods that I didn't have in my home country that enriched my body, and had experiences that made my soul sing. I explored incredibly beautiful destinations that installed a deeper love of nature and the world in me. My travels exposed me to new belief systems, ideas, lifestyles, people, hurt, joy, problems, and challenges. It showed me just how strong I was while teaching me about my weaknesses. It made me realize what kind of life and lifestyle I wanted to be happy as well as what my dream career path was. I dove into research on the various wellness benefits that travel had and learned about the decades of studies that talked about the mental, physical, and physiological health benefits that travel can provide. Some of these studies included how travel can boost your happiness and even lower your stress and anxiety levels.
I also learned about the benefits of experiences and human connection had as well, both which travel consists of. Travel introduces you to new people, whether they are other travelers or locals. It makes you an interesting storyteller and gives you a boost of confidence to know what you are capable of and what your passions are. Travel makes you more compassionate for other beings and can inspire you to help others or make a change in the world. This aids in feeding your soul and gives you a sense of purpose. Traveling also opens your mind to new ideas while shaping what you want in a life and a career. Need to strength a relationship with a loved one, child, or a friend? Travel somewhere. There are many healing powers that traveling with people or engaging in culture or human connection can do for you. There are so many ways that travel can enrich your life if you simply open your mind to it and take that first step on your own adventure. It's important to self-assess what kind of experience you are seeking on your next trip and what outcomes you desire so you can better decide what to do, where to go, who to go with, and for how long.
Put the benefits of travel into motion in your life by being intuitive about what you need, what you fear, what might holding you back, and what transformation you need. I have made it my mission as a travel coach to empower others to take control over their vacations or travel lifestyles so they too can have transformative experiences that impact the mind, body, and soul.
--Sahara Rose De Vore, The Travel Coach Network
A Moment of Clarity: After a few years of working from home I, like many people in similar situations, felt a bit of wanderlust and decided to take a few months to travel (and still work) from a few places I’ve always wanted to go. And while there were some exciting moments, the one that changed me as a person was much more subdued. I had rented a relatively remote house in Spain for a few weeks, in a somewhat remote area closer to nature and fields than to any cities. And one morning, there was nothing special that happened except for a profound sense of calm that flowed over me. It was a sunny day, sure, but the change was more in myself, and just the serene natural beauty of the place, away from the rest of the world and other people, allowed me to truly think to myself and for the noise in my head to die down. For the moment, everything was alright, and this moment was all that mattered. I think back on this whenever I feel as though I’m overworking myself and need to reorient myself. It took me a trip halfway across the world to find a moment of clarity, but it was worth every minute and cent spent on it.
--Laura Fuentes, Infinity Dish
My husband and I have been traveling full-time around the world with our five children, ages 12-3 years (ages 10-1 years when we left). In May, we will celebrate two years since we left.
We've spent six months on the west coast of the US and Hawaii, seven months in Asia (Bali to Japan), six months in Europe (road-tripping from Portugal to Croatia, back to Rome, Paris and around France) and are currently in New Zealand.
We own our own business and work remotely. We spend about a month in each location. We set out, after selling our home and most of our possessions, to find a new life. By eliminating the clutter of life, we hoped we will be able to rebuild our lives in a way we all loved even more.
Travel has been our medium for finding this change. Learning, socializing, exploring and struggling through so many countries worldwide has shaped us into new people. We have seen so much beauty around this globe.
Our children have learned basic, polite words (hello, thank you, please) in so many different languages they often mix them up. With this comes the discomfort of being the outsider that cannot communicate properly. I'd say one of the first things we learned, after going international, is a great amount of empathy for those who immigrate to the USA. We struggled over and over through botched Google Translate conversations. Instead of a quick judgment call when we see someone struggling to communicate, we feel pangs of distress and want to help them feel more comfortable.
Through so many different cultures, we've seen beauty around this world. We've learned little nuances of cultures that make them unique. For example, people in Japan are incredibly kind and reserved. However, they frequent onsens, public bathhouses, frequently. Within these bathhouses, which are segregated by gender and incredibly clean (like all of Japan), they open up like social butterflies. While the Westerners are cowering in the corner, the Japanese women are chatting it up in the buff. Such a fascinating dichotomy!
We've fallen in love with Thai people and seriously consider someday moving to Thailand. While social and economic infrastructure can be a bit spotty, the people are the real gold of that country. They simply just LOVE deeply. They can meet you for the first time and are picking up your young children, wiping their nose, fixing their sandals. They will help you find anything you need and never worry about your language or social blunders. We haven't felt as welcome and loved as we do in Thailand (the only country we've actually visited twice in our adventures, which says how much we love it).
We were surprised in Italy, not only by the incredible taste of the food, but by the undertone of right by me attitude. Don't be surprised to be swindled just a bit there. They also are very loving people, but honesty isn't always their strong suit. They sit on miles and miles of incredible history in Rome. However, as most people, they quickly can take this for granted and are tired of the constant excavation and preservation. To an outsider, this can be surprising. Italy is built for tourists and is heavenly to get around.
We found the most delicious food in the world in Paris. We went in expecting the classic unwelcome attitude towards tourists. While it is there, Parisians are actually quite kind. If you make even the slightest effort to speak their language (we all butcher French, but A for effort, right?!) they warm up like lightbulbs. They take food and social time seriously in a way we can all learn from.
Overall, we've learned how kind people are worldwide. Good people, who love their families and help one another, exist everywhere. In our quest for a home, we've only learned one thing: we can happily live anywhere! This proves to be a bit frustrating, but also incredibly comforting.
As we self-isolate in New Zealand, we are mourning the loss of our travel life. It's suffered a tragic, fatal death to COVID-19 that we didn't see coming. We now are making plans to settle in Portugal for a year this fall. If anything, we are incredibly grateful for the memories we have been able to make. We relish memories of places that are suddenly inaccessible.
Our children have become global citizens. They've learned to be best friends and depend on one another in a way that would not be possible otherwise. I hope these relationships carry on for decades to come and our travel experiences bind them tight. They are blind to many cultural differences after having no normal for so long. Normal to them is exploring together, experiencing new things, attending church in languages they may or may not understand and learning to play with kids through non-verbal cues.
You don't need to travel full-time to enjoy many of the benefits of travel, however. Getting out of your normal comfort zone is a great reward from travel. You find empathy and understanding for things you didn't know about before you left. You are often strained emotionally at some point trying to figure out logistics of travel or upended plans. You leave your routine and form memories with those you travel with in new and fun ways. These bind you together even when you return home.
I've learned over the last two years that our minds are wonderful filters in retrospect. Even in our most difficult times traveling, we tend to only remember the good. The bad floats away and we are left with the real treasure of travel: the wonderful memories. These are the souvenirs we cannot gain any other way and the most precious of all.
--Leslie Stroud, 7wayfinders
Growing up in a small town I dreamed of seeing the world. Our family didn't have much money, so our vacations were limited to road trips within a few hours from home, except the one time my parents saved enough for a week in Disney World. When I got married, my new husband agreed to a honeymoon in Hawaii. It was there that I first realized the profound effect travel could have on one's life--but not for the reasons you might think.
Sure, I was awed by the palm trees, breaking waves and beautiful sunsets of Honolulu, but a visit to Pearl Harbor changed my life. My husband had insisted that we tour the memorial; I agreed, but wasn't very enthusiastic about it. History...eh...I wanted to lounge in the sand and drink Mai Tais. I propped myself against a tree as we waited for the boat taking us to the memorial to arrive. A tour guide was telling us what to expect. I was only half-paying attention, more interested in the unusual bark on the tree against my back. After his introduction, I asked the tour guide what kind of tree it was and why it had such strange, pitted bark.
Those are bullet holes.
A chill went through my body. I looked around and realized that if hundreds of planes had descended upon us at that moment, bullets flying, there would be no place to hide in that wide open space along the harbor. I envisioned terrified sailors, pilots, mechanics, wives running aimlessly for cover. No living history exhibit has ever made a moment in time more real for me. As we paid our respects on the Arizona, I thought of my grandfather, a WWII combat Marine. I stared at the outline of the ship below the water's surface, vainly--and absurdly--searching for signs of life.
After that trip, I became more interested in my grandparents' lives and my ancestry. I respected people more--especially those whose lives I knew so little about and were so different from my own. I wanted to hear people's stories. While we were on the Arizona, a Japanese woman was laying flowers at the tomb. At the time, I was furious with her. It was HER fault, HER PEOPLE, who had made the need for this memorial in the first place. How DARE she! Later, I learned that no one wins in war. That each side has a perspective. That 'truth' is ambiguous.
I grew up a lot in that moment on the banks of Pearl Harbor. The experience left me more compassionate, empathetic and eager to learn. A few years later, as a young single mother, I still didn't have much money. But unlike my parents, I knew the value of seeing the world and made travel a top priority for my children, right after love and education. It became my career: I am now president of FlackShack, a marketing communications firm specializing in tourism marketing for small towns. To this day, my daughters also recognize that value, having traveled the world to places I only dreamed about at their ages: Kenya, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Dubai, the Caribbean, Finland, Venezuela and so many more.
--Suzan French Gennace, FlackShack
Travel is my therapy and my teacher and the best one I have had yet. Being an awkward teen, somewhere in between an extrovert and introvert, Travel made me crawl out of my shell. I am still very awkward, for an adult it's just that travel made me feel comfortable about who am I am.
It's like I spend this entire time looking at the world through a peephole and then I started traveling, and it was like seeing new colors!
Like before the exposure travel got me, in conversations I'd be nervous and continuously contemplating a witty reply, but now I am more open. I listen. I inter-act. I laugh and share because I got over the fact that I am not perfect. Traveling to beaten paths and coming across so many people and different ways of life, got me thinking, we define what perfect is. And I think it's accepting things, people in their simplicity, they are perfect as they are.
I get stuck in my thoughts and travel has given me so many perspectives that I like spending time in my mind now.
Why do I think travel did all this?
- Travel is a flow and so is life.
I remember the first solo trip I ever took, I had my whole plan marked on a tissue! And well nothing went as per the tissue and I ended up having more fun than I ever imagined. I went to Kheerganga, Manali in the Himalayas on my first trek. So now, when plans come undone in life as they so often do, I flow.
I fret less and live more.
- Travel makes you better.
I think I not only learned how to take better care of myself but of others as well. Like when I visit monasteries or any other holy places, I am sensitive to the people's rituals there and try to connect with their beliefs and I learn so much!
I find mountains really have humbled me into a better human being. A trek to Shrikhand Mahadev Kailash in Rampur, India is one of the most challenging treks ever and looking back I thought for sure that it would be the death of me. And now, it just makes me feel so powerful that I did that.
I am learning to be more self-sufficient, happy, free and resourceful and grateful as I travel more and more.
You know all the cliches are cliches for a reason! Where there is a will, there is indeed a way. The best views do come after the hardest climb.
I know that everybody has such a clear idea of dos and don'ts bout everything cause' we have set limits and boundaries. But there is so much wonder out there.
Go travel to a far off land, where it's wintering for six long months and nothing but snow and snow for miles. You really won't care about a lot of things, things and ideas and wants that don't you shouldn't have been bothering about anyways.
So that's how I travel for therapy and lessons. And I love it.
Everybody who is in need of something new, new faces, new foods, new views, new smiles, and new thoughts must travel. 🙂
--Divya, Indian Travel Store
I was born with nomadic DNA. My thirst for traveling runs through my blood since…well as long as I can remember. My grandfather used to ask my grand-mother: “Fur? Jewel? A trip?”. He quickly realized he needed to change the question to simply “Where are we going?”. I started crossing the Atlantic Ocean at 6 months old and never stopped. 29 years later, having lived in 10 different countries and visited and revisited over 69 countries, I am still asking myself “where should I be going next?”. After a few months in a place, a restlessness occurs and “next” needs to happen fast. I usually take it for granted: you live, you travel, period. But occasionally I stop (like now) and wonder: “What pushes me to travel? What strange impulse drives me to jump on travel sites, to read lists of world wonders to discover, to create a life that includes, requires traveling?”. My mother probably would say: “You can practice your language skills!” or would quote my favorite St Augustine’s quote; *“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”. *
I know that traveling has made me self-confident, tolerant, sociable, curious… My friends live in so many different countries. My best friend is an Iraqui/ Canadian Muslim that I have known for 20 years since living in Qatar, and other close friends are Italian, Spanish, Costa-Rican, Peruvian, Mexican, from all ways of life and all faiths. I feel inter-connected to them as a citizen of this beautiful world. I am grateful that Mark Twain was right:” “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
My parents travel to disconnect from the world and reconnect with each other: “This is the secret of a long, happy marriage…escape with your spouse and rediscover each other.” My sister travels to learn new cultures. Before any trip, she will read and watch so many documentaries that by the time we get there, she already looks like an encyclopedia …she is currently devoting all her time to be fluent in Japanese to return and live there! Many of my friends just think traveling is fun and enjoyable: whether it is eco-tourism, yoga retreats or foodies’ tours, or simply getting massages at the same time on an empty beach…
Life is change, life is vibrance, evolution, revolution, creation…you think you know something and you are simply wrong. Or you simply don’t know what you don’t know…But how do you find that out? For me, I travel. Travelling makes me feel truly alive, it reminds me at home to live every moment fully, but it somehow demands more of a conscious effort. When I travel, living fully is effortless. I leave with a certain self, but I never return the same: my new self has felt the warm breeze on the coast of Antalya in Turkey, has tasted a macaron of La Duree in Paris, has watched the rising sun in Machu Pichu, has laughed and cried during a Londonian play, has feared to end up in jail in Prague, has gotten lost in a market in Estonia, has eaten and eaten (and eaten…) a full fondue in Switzerland, has swam with dolphins in Israel, has seen my body covered with incredible blue butterflies in Mexico, has body boarded on a 5 mile long desert beach in the Dominican Republic …. My body and mind appear to have transformed after having embraced all the sunsets, the tastes, the impressions, the knowledge, the emotions, and the other million memories that have come with each trip. I feel this joy of living from the top of my head to my toes. I do not believe I discover myself on a trip…but I do discover another self, a richer self after each trip! So why stop? Ever?
--Sophia Clark, Embrace the Wander
I've been lucky enough to travel quite a bit, I grew up in Chicago but moved to Colorado for college and since then I've lived in Spain and Australia, I've been to Africa four times, spent 10 weeks traveling around South America, I've been all over the states, Europe and the Caribbean, and I've visited Fiji, Panama, and Hawaii. My list of places I still want to go is extremely long!
For me traveling is about experiencing something new, new foods, new sights, new sounds, new smells, and new ideas. Traveling is about learning about other cultures, beliefs, and unique views throughout this world that are different than my own. Ultimately though, traveling is about understanding that we're all a lot more similar than we are different. The fear, the hate, and the anger that fuels world conflicts and prejudice are easily overcome through something so simple. Travel.
Because of this I think traveling the world, and experiencing new people is one of the most powerful and enriching things a person can do. It's the truest way to understand the grandeur of this planet, how immense it is, and how insignificant we are individually in this system. That's freeing to me, to know that the small things we all stress out about each day are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and it's one of the great traits traveling instills.
I think everyone should travel. I'm so passionate about its benefits I think it should be required. I think there should be a gap year between high school and college and again between college and becoming a working adult that young people should have to travel abroad, and gain this perspective on the world you can only get from seeing it.
--Paul Ronto, RunRepeat
When I graduated from Harvard University in 2001, I decided to take one year to travel before getting a real job. However, as a middle class kid from Cleveland, OH, I did not have the money to simply buy a ticket and explore the world. Instead, I needed to get a job. I applied for a position with Rustic Pathways and was hired to open travel operations in Costa Rica. My vision was to go down to Costa Rica, hike through the rainforest, surf some world class waves, white water raft the best rivers in the world . . . and oh yeah, create some programs for high school students. Little did I know that this experience would change the trajectory of my life.
During my first summer in Costa Rica, I created 7 community service and adventure programs and hosted 400 students. The overwhelming response from students was t*his program completely changed my life*, and the response from villages was thank you for coming here to build a community garden and community center. At the end of my first summer, I realized that there was tremendous potential in the overall travel model. We went from 400 total students that first summer, to 12,000 students annually 15 years later.
In the bigger scheme of life, I've realized that travel naturally challenges peoples’ assumptions on how the world works. It introduces people to new cultures, religions, music, food and ways of living. Travel prepares people to be successful in the world. Not only does it make people more resilient, durable and adaptable, but it provides them with the skill sets to perform at a global level. I believe that the next generation of leaders will all have the skills to operate across language barriers, religious differences, sexual orientation, and ways of being.
--Chris Stakich, Rustic Pathways
Travel has been a part of my life since at six months old my entire family boarded a flight back to the Dominican Republic. 1980’s New York City was not where my parents envisioned raising their children and they retreated to their home land. Ever since I've had the privilege of calling both these identities mine. I’m both Dominican and American. And yes I'm also Dominican-American. Living in the space between cultures has allowed me to learn from both, and apply it in my everyday life. My brothers and I (and an entire generation) navigated these spaces. Moving back and forth between knocking down mangoes with rocks in our backyard in Santo Domingo and playing handball at the courts of our Bronx neighborhood.
Having to navigate through different languages, cultures, and daily realities promotes grit, empathy, and a sense of community. These are the lessons that students (young and old) learn when they participate in a homestay, contribute to a community impact project, or take a long drive through new landscapes. It was not until my adult life that I began to call any of those trips to the Dominican Republic travel. It took me going to Costa Rica, and experiencing a new culture for me to realize that the benefits of travel are ingrained in who I am. I made a career of travel and made a commitment to myself to continue to explore. To push my boundaries. Because it is at the edge of our comfort zone that we learn the most. I’ve learned about the value of community and the benefits of cross cultural collaboration. That diversity makes us stronger because it diversifies the points of view from which we can draw. And that the world is an ever connected place where decisions made on one continent can have a drastic effect on communities across the world. It is only through learning about one another's cultures, customs, and realities that we can create space for us to collaborate, and when we collaborate as a global community the sky’s the limit.
--Harry Alvarez, Rustic Pathways
It’s crazy to think that how much of an understatement it is to say that travel has enriched my life. I feel like those words truly don’t do how I feel justice. I am currently a Flight Attendant for a major U.S. airline, but that isn’t even how my traveling experience began. Since I can remember, my family has been traveling. Before I even got to college, I could say that I had been to the vast majority of the United States, parts of Canada, Mexico, the Grand Cayman Islands, and Jamaica. You could truly say that traveling was part of what developed my character. However, becoming a flight attendant truly took that piece of who I am, to another level. It truly made the world my oyster. I can honestly say, I have been utilizing those benefits, that come with the job, to my advantage. It’s crazy to think that I have been to so many places in this beautiful world. I can’t imagine my life without travel. I feel for so many of the people who have only really been able to see their own state, and maybe a few others. International travel isn’t always readily available to the masses. I wish that I could give everyone the opportunity to do so, it changes your life. I would like to talk about one specific experience that I always go back to. My first solo trip!
I have always been one of those people who runs with what is given to them. Thus, when I got flight benefits, I really decided that I was going to step out of my comfort zone and do things that I have always added to my bucket list, but didn’t always know how I was going to bring them to fruition. One of the top ones, going to Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day! Being in my career field you always have a group of people who want to do the same things you do, but your schedules don’t always match up. Anyways, the people who I originally wanted to go with didn’t have schedules that matched up with mine, so I decided to go on my own. I bought a book on Ireland, planned everything I wanted to do, paid for tours, my hostel, and of course listed for my flight. I just did it. I can truly say that this will always be an adventure that I will look back on for the rest of my life. I met some of the most amazing people I could ever hope to encounter. I never felt unwelcome, or like I was in danger at any point. I went to places such as: Dublin, Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, a sheep farm, etc. I met individuals I will call friends for life.
This is only one example of the many experiences I have encountered on my many travel experiences. I can truly say that seeing different parts of the world gives you an insight that so many people will never experience. You leave your home country, or even your state, and you realize that there are so many opportunities out in the world. Or, you simply come to see how good you really have it back at home. Not everyone is as lucky as we are back in the states, but they still love their lives. We are all living a human experience and travel really expands on this. I wouldn’t change these experiences for anything. I have had to make sacrifices when it comes to the career I have chosen, but in the end, I can truly say that it has made me a better person. You can’t even begin to quantify the lessons you learn when you are on the road.
I have learned how to be more independent, just based on the simple fact that if I want to see places, the vast majority of the time you have to go out on your own. No one is going to hold your hand! I have learned to always evaluate my surroundings, take safety into my own hands, plan for what I want to do when I am on a layover, etc. if I can give anyone any kind of advice, I would tell them to plan. Take the time to follow your dreams. They are accessible, you just need to take the leap. If you’re nervous about traveling, sit down and look up the place you want to travel. Figure out where you want to stay, what you want to do, safety precautions, let others know where you’re going. Just know that traveling is one of the most enriching things you can do in your life. It gives you the opportunity to see how others live. Other cultures. What they value. How they see your country. It truly gives you an opportunity to develop who you are as a person. It opens your eyes to so many different things that are going on in the world and how beautiful it truly is out there.
Without travel, I don’t think I would be even close to the woman I am today. I have such an appreciation for what is out in the world and how badly I want to continue being a part of it. Travel gives you this feeling that things are so much bigger than yourself. It introduces you to people that you would have never had the opportunity to know unless you took the opportunity to put yourself in that position. I know that I have family in Greece that I hadn’t seen since I was a child, but because I was able to travel, we were able to reconnect and have a relationship I wouldn’t change for the world. I am able to really see where my heritage comes from, which is basically all of Europe, and connect with pieces of myself that I would have never been able to do so before.
Travel is something that I will always, I mean always, tell people to take the time to partake in. Even if it takes you a long time to save up for the travel adventure of your dreams, please do it. Immerse yourself in the culture, meet people you would have never imagined you could connect with, see sites you’ve only dreamed about seeing. It will change your life. Something you can always look back on with excitement and pride. Travel is one of the best opportunities to really find out who you truly are. It opens up so many avenues that normal life just doesn’t offer. I hope that everyone takes the time to see the world!
--Cynthia Lopez Olson, Travel Enthusiast
In 2015, I had a chance to travel Rwanda thanks to my employer. I stayed in the country nearly 2 months and it gave me whole new experiences -landscape, lifestyle, food, music, and politics. Before the trip, I watched Hotel Rwanda to learn about the country’s history. The movie dramatically described the situation during the Rwandan genocide that killed between 500,000 and 1,000,000. That powerful story gave me a fear and a bias before I landed in the country. But what I saw was a peaceful and vibrant country. People seem to be happy. Kigali, the capital city, was embracing new IT technologies and constructing new buildings. Every Sunday morning, a beautiful African choir music from the church across road woke me up. I saw a vast plain area with wide animals during a safari trip. In spite of these enjoyable experiences, I often heard sad and hidden stories about the people. Stories like an old woman who continues her life after she lost her son during the genocide. And, the man who murdered her son lives next door. Many middle-aged employees that I share the same office with still have horrible memories from the tragic event. This travel broadened my spectrum of how I see the world and people. I became more understanding and un-biased. And, yes, it definitely enriched my life until now.
--Peter Song, Haki Review Mashup
Travel has made me more open-minded. In particular, travel that has been to a country with very different culture, food, and atmosphere than what I'm used to in my day to day has really been the most enriching for me. For example, I had the opportunity to travel to India a couple years ago, and while it was overwhelming and a bit chaotic, I also met some of the kindest people. I've also found that travel where I'm able to really immerse myself in the culture and connect with new people is the type of travel where I grow and learn the most. For example, I traveled to Peru with a women's rights nonprofit and worked with female entrepreneurs there to help them grow their businesses through social media. It was so rewarding and incredible to connect with these amazing women.
--Elise Armitage, What The Fab
After my first year as a lawyer, I went to China for six months and fell in the love with the culture and noticed a significant improvement in my happiness levels. When I returned home I made a near-immediate change to leave the legal profession. I realized that I valued the flexibility to travel for long periods of time, which wasn’t probable in a legal career where you often need to meet with clients face to face.
My time is China also helped me let go of my attachment to work as a measure of self-worth. Having the occasional off day to explore or relax doesn’t mean you are someone that is unproductive, or that you don’t care about your career or the company — it’s just an off day, and nearly everyone has them.
--Michael Alexis, Team Building
Travel has been a greatly enriching experience for me:
1) Not only making me *discover new places*, travel has provided me an *opportunity to see new cultures, learn some languages and try some new foods*
2) I have *made some very good friends* in places where I have travelled to. I have now friends in all the continents and most countries of the world.
3) Travel has helped me *become very social and comfortable* at striking conversations and building relations with people in daily life.
4) Travel has made me *more content, and made me appreciate the beautiful world* and things I have got.
5) Finally, travel has *made me get out of my box, and enabled me to see the ingenuity and creativity* of the various people of the world. It has made me less bigoted, as I appreciate more of other cultures, and see more of the good of others rather than beating my own trumpet only.
--Saurabh Jindal, Talk Travel
Travel has enriched my life and blessed me with countless opportunities for adventure, discovery and growth. Over the last twenty years, I've explored and experienced life all around the world (80 cities across 5 continents). Whenever I would come back from an international work trip for example, family, friends or colleagues would always reveal to me their own travel dreams; which always made me wonder why we suppress our desires to travel, as it has always empowered me and enriched my life overall.
One of my most memorable and enriching travel experiences was getting an extreme body massage in Shanghai, China. I was traveling through Beijing and Shanghai on a business trip and the day before I was to return to New York, I wanted to get a massage. I was able to find a reputable and safe place recommended by my hotel and soon as I walked into the place I was served tea and shown to a private room. I didn't have to take any clothes off which I thought was weird but I had to admit I was a bit happy since I was by myself. A very dainty woman started to massage me and I thought to myself, I am going to take a nap (which is what I usually do whenever I get a relaxing massage). At some point, the woman asked me how her pressure was, and I told her that she could be a bit harder if she wanted to since my shoulder and neck muscles were very tight. This was my mistake.
There was no way I could've taken a nap during the massage. There was no relaxation involved. I had no idea that Chinese massages had a reputation for being painful. The woman definitely became more forceful, so much so that I swear her elbow was going to go through my back. All she kept saying to me was relax, relax, muscles very tight. For an hour I mustered up all the strength I could to relax while not wincing in pain. When the massage was done, I was trying to rush out of there but then the woman took my arm, gave me a glass of water, looked straight into my eyes and said to me; no work hard.
Even though I left the massage more sore than I started, what made it memorable to me was not the pain of the massage but more than that, how sincere she said those three words to me, no work hard. I definitely returned home really thinking about where I wanted to be in my career and what impact I wanted to make.
--Kimberly Ramsawak, Professional Jetsetter
I didn’t realize before resigning from work to travel the world, that it would not just be unbelievably amazing, or that I would be able to see and experience things I’d never even dreamed of. I also learned that travel really does enrich your life.
This personal transformation has occurred slowly over the past 4 years and 48 countries. The places I’ve seen, people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had, each filling holes my heart, like raindrops.
Sometimes those changes have splashed into my life in big drops, especially after visiting unique cultures or pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Other times, it’s happened in the tiniest of droplets, as I met generous strangers and learned about the lifestyles and values of other cultures, leading me to question my own.
They say travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, and it’s true. I’ve become richer in depth, experience, and knowledge. I’m more open to seeing, and respecting, the diversity of our world. More tolerant and forgiving. I’ve become more in tune with my instincts and feel alive with the knowledge that I’m in charge of my own destiny.
Each moment infused with its own unique message, until suddenly, I realized I was seeing life with a fresh perspective. Full of joy. Full of possibility.
It’s a bit like falling in love, as suddenly your life feels richer and full of color. You feel more comfortable in your own skin. Although it’s not yourself, or another person you’re falling in love with, it’s the world. It’s like that ‘perfect partner’ you see in movies that makes you a better person, but it’s ‘life’.
It’s difficult to describe. Especially to people that have not traveled extensively. It can only be experienced by doing it. By going the distance, escaping the social noise of your life, opening your mind, reflecting on life, and making personal choices to change.
Yet, you can’t really search for these moments of transformation, as they’re elusive. Like love, change and growth happens when it’s ready. Usually when you least expect it.
You may think that you have to invest in high priced, organized excursions to do this, but it’s not about the cost. It’s about the journey and the personal reflection.
Most of my trips have been solo journeys, done with a very low budget. In fact, that’s even better as you’re more exposed to the culture, leaving you more open to seeing things differently and learning.
Although I have hundreds of examples from the last four years that led to change, I’ll share a few. Like a Moroccan girl I befriended on a solo train ride from Fez to Tangiers, Morocco. I sat with her and her family for hours and even though she didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Arabic, we spent the journey trying to communicate.
By the end of the ride, she had learned that I was about to miss my flight to Spain, due to train delays. To my surprise, she called a friend and asked him to give me a ride directly to the airport from the train station.
Although I still wasn’t 100% sure they understood, I trusted my instincts and accepted, making my flight and new friends along the way. I’m still connected with her on WhatsApp and we occasionally send each other emoji messages, making the world seem a tiny bit warmer. A tiny bit smaller.
Or the young bedouin I met in the archeological of Petra in Jordan. I ran into him all three days I explored the ruins solo. Each day he asked me numerous times to have dinner with him. Finally, I caved and told him I would.
We met on the street, me smiling when he showed up with his donkey, one of his few prized possessions. We walked to the convenience store, bought tuna, cheese and pita bread, we found a rock in the desert and watched the sunset while talking about life and our cultures.
Sometimes it comes from crazy stories that have every possibility of things going wrong, only to turn out fine, restoring my faith in humanity. Like when I tried to walk to a historical site in Cairo only to learn that my hostel had told me to walk along a busy highway.
There, a policeman stopped me, waved down a random motorist, and told him to take me to my destination. The driver couldn’t speak English, but treated me like precious cargo and took me to my destination.
Near the end, he understood through my gestures that I wanted to give him cash for his trouble, but needed change. Pulling up alongside another motorist, he explained the situation. I exchanged money with them through the window, while we were driving side by side. I was able to leave a small monetary gesture, leaving him with a huge smile on his face.
The above are just a few of the many moments that have touched my heart. Each random act of kindness, made across cultures, filing me with a richness and joy that I never expected, but am eternally grateful for.
I look forward to more journeys, hopefully in the near future, to try to make the world a better place in the process.
--Julie DeCocker, Gorgeous Unknown
I travel because, as a teacher, I’ve found travel to be among the most impactful tools to teach profound lessons---showing us how to reexamine strongly held views, see complex global issues through a uniquely local lens, and build relationships across lines of difference. When we travel, we’re welcomed into someone else’s home---a home we don’t know, and sometimes are uncomfortable in. Being out of our comfort zone, and made to feel welcome by others, teaches us humility. Humility, in turn, opens the door for us to build relationships across lines of difference and inspect our established views through the lens of others.
As I’ve traveled with students, I’ve seen first-hand just how impactful it can be for students to be forced outside of their comfort zones, beyond their daily routines, and away from their established social groups. When not bound by those routes, students are freer to inspect their own feelings of empathy for others, express a sense of wonderment about the world around them, and develop a belief that all people are connected by a shared humanity. Travel provides a unique opportunity for student growth that can’t be replicated in a classroom by simultaneously forcing us into new situations and breaking down our old barriers to self-reflection, having the effect of turning our fixed mindsets entirely upside-down.
--Brent Watkins, Rustic Pathways
I started traveling when I was 16, 54 years ago, and I have never stopped. And I have worked in the travel industry for over 30 years as the founder of my own private travel company, and as the founder of a global travel + non-travel services startup.
Travel has consistently enriched my life by teaching me things about my culture, the cultures I have lived in, and foreign cultures in general. Travel is probably the most valuable education there is. It teaches you more about you and more about everyone else. And it distances you from your culture and creates universal insights that are spiritual, creative and self empowering. I have passed these insights on to my children.
Travel is one of the best ways to understand yourself and others better. It opens your eyes to issues like poverty and inequality. It reveals the power and beauty of the human spirit in people high and low. It teaches you that your ways are not the only ways or the best ways . . .
--Ian Martin Ropke, Your Japan Private Tours
The anticipation, nerves and excitement of travel are such an electrifying mixture of emotions that are difficult to experience in any other context. As your plane touches down on the ground, and your ears start to pop, as you walk through the airport, filling with the sounds of new languages, that electricity begins to build even more. Travel has become such an integral part of my life, and every adventure I’ve been on has been a transformative one. Not just because I’m able to learn about new and different cultures and traditions, but travel has become such a great way to also recognize our similarities, and what truly connects me to others, regardless of geography or language.
I can understand hesitation around the idea of travel, because everything is new, uncomfortable and unfamiliar but that’s also exactly the magic of it, and what makes travel so important. You learn how to cope and thrive in a new environment, especially when you limit your use of a smartphone and the Internet, and you just get to talk to the locals, and experience the world like they do. Driving down winding roads, or walking through streets I’ve never seen is almost like living life in slow motion. I observe every detail, soak up as much as I can, and pay attention to things I’ve stopped noticing in my own city. So far, I’ve only seen a fraction of what the world has to offer, but I look forward to each and every new place that I’ve yet to explore.
--Carlo Dummar, It's NERD
Traveling is one of the "things" that brings people together and creates bonding that is hard to achieve otherwise. It can be a group of friends, lovers, families, or a stranger you meet on your path. I will give you one of my personal stories (among many). My 24 years old son was backpacking the far east for six months. Kids that age are not always so close to their parents. On the last stretch of his trip, I met him in Nepal, and we did a two weeks hiking trek in the Annapurna ridge. After years of mainly casual daily shorter conversations, we suddenly had time to talk in-depth. We had to get along in rough conditions, share small rooms with no privacy, and witness amazing scenery of both landscape and culture.
These two weeks brought us together in a way no other experience, but traveling could provide. This period will stay as a cornerstone in our relationship for years to come.
--Erez Speiser, Israel By Foot