I got my first taste of intercontinental travel when I was 13 and visited England for a family reunion.
I was blown away by the architecture, the accents, and the beautiful countryside. We rode the London Eye, toured Buckingham Palace, and visited two dozen graveyards, because apparently my family is weirdly morbid.
From then on I was hooked.
Throughout our relationship, Sam and I have made travel a priority—both with our time and our finances. This meant limiting spending in other areas, such as eating at restaurants, going to movies, or buying new clothes. But the experiences we’ve had traveling far outweigh anything we’ve sacrificed.
While there are SO many benefits of traveling, here are just a few.
1. Travel broadens your perspective
One of the greatest benefits of traveling is that it allows you to see the world from a different vantage point. As Augustine famously said, “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only one page.” Being forced out of your usual routine and immersing yourself in a vastly different culture is eye-opening. After spending time working with refugee children in Greece or with orphans in Uganda, I no longer viewed my comfortable life in North America the same way.
2. Travel is educational
I was a lousy history student in school (This forever pains my father, who is a major history buff and had grand hopes for his daughter. At least I don’t do drugs…) But there is something about visiting historic sites that brings all those boring Western Civ. lectures to life in a way sitting in a sterile classroom never could.
3. Travel strengthens relationships
Many of Sam’s and my best memories were made while traveling—such as getting engaged in the Swiss Alps and reenacting every scene from The Sound of Music in Salzburg. Some of our most disastrous experiences also happened while traveling—like getting stuck beside a five-year-old with the lung capacity of Whitney Houston who screamed continuously during our 10-hour flight to Africa. Or staying in a romantic hotel in Washington, DC, and spending the entire evening battling a not-so-romantic case of the stomach flu. Yet these experiences drew Sam and me together in a way that might not have been possible had we stayed home.
4. Travel makes you less materialistic
As cliché as it is, when you decide to prioritize experiences over things, you realize that you really don’t need 50 pairs of shoes or the latest technological gadget to be happy. And that value shift is incredibly freeing.
5. Travel forces you to be more flexible
I’m as type A as they come. I love schedules and plans and genuinely enjoy making to-do lists. But the truth is, even the best-laid plans go kaput during travel. It’s inevitable. For example, Sam and I tend to bring rain with us everywhere we go. We are like human rain sticks. Last summer alone we ended two droughts. So sometimes a last-minute change of plans is inevitable. Flights get delayed, freak blizzards hit, the “quaint” vacation rental you reserved online resembles the hotel from The Shining in person. As a result, you have to learn to be flexible.
Travel—whether you drop everything and backpack the world indefinitely, or simply take one or two trips annually to somewhere new—will change you.
In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
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