I need to preface this with: I have been beyond blessed in my life. I have had the humbling opportunity to travel multiple times every year of my life.
21 states and 6 countries, and I am not even close to going everywhere I want to go. I have learned many things as a result of my constant need to explore, things I think more people need to understand. I wholeheartedly stand by the idea to make money (i.e. have a job, no matter how minimal it is) to travel. Honestly, I do not need a huge house or an expensive car; I need a plane ticket and an adventure. The peanuts-salary from my student job is what got me on a cruise a couple weeks ago and is getting me to Orlando later this summer. Work hard, travel plenty.
So many of my friends have not been to other countries, have not been to many states in our own country, or have not even explored most of our own home state. It makes me sad for those friends because I cannot imagine a life without exploring and traveling. I understand money is a huge deal, but there are some very cheap ways to explore: travel around your home state (a tank of gas or two, tops), drive to a nearby state (save loads of money on airfare), visit places where you know someone lives and crash with them for free (free housing and having a local who knows the cheap places to eat). Trust me, I get it; I am a graduate student with virtually no income, so I get it. But, that also does not stop me.
See, my mother instilled wanderlust in me at 2-months old, so I really cannot help it. My parents packed me up in June, after my wonderful arrival onto this planet in April, and took me to Tennessee… no wonder I am a Florida girl who loves mountains. My mom has planned our family trips every year and other small travel adventures throughout the year. That was merely the beginning. Quarter of a century later, I have quite the list of destinations checked off.
1. Traveling increases your appreciation
By seeing new places, new people, new livelihoods you learn to appreciate your life, your home, our planet. You appreciate the Earth, the varied landscapes across the country (or between countries), the sunrises and sunsets, and how other people live and work. You are grateful for this life, thankful for the opportunities, and appreciative of the moment. It is hard to put into words how you feel after you travel, but basically just think: humbled with ear-to-ear-grin happiness. You come back thankful for the experiences and thankful for the place you call home. Warning: you will also come back home with an even stronger urge to travel more; it is a cycle that never ends, really.
2. You will never regret going
The only thing you will regret is not being able to see everything….. and regret not being a millionaire, so you can quit everything and just travel for the rest of your life. I have never come back from a trip unhappy; even when I got food poisoning (two different trips, nonetheless), I did not come back thinking I should have never left. I would go back to those places in a heartbeat – just now I would know where to not eat.
3. You learn things that are not in textbooks
Many people say you learn new cultures, new values, new religions while you travel, and it does happen to some extent no matter how close to home (or far) you travel. Traveling anywhere, from the state next door, to the country next door, to the opposite side of the planet, can teach you something. You might learn things like how to travel on your own, how to use common sense, how to follow directions/maps, or how to to make big decisions. Or, perhaps, you learn about different cultures and ways of life. You might learn how people in other states pass their time, or how people with a different language interact with one another. Maybe you will even learn the food preferences of that community. Some closed-minded people have told me they do not care to travel because nothing out there seems that exciting. How do they know that? You cannot say you don’t like other places because you have never been.
4. Your senses will explode
Literally, your eyes will start twitching from the beauty-overload. Places like the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, the beaches, and other natural wonders will make you freak the heck out. Even big cities will make you awe-struck with the architecture, the busy-bee lifestyle, the large light-up signs, and elegant shops. Of course everywhere is different, which only reiterates how much you should travel in your life. Only going to the same big city or only going to the same mountainous getaway is not “traveling” but merely “vacationing.” The smell of nature, the smell of flower fields, the smell of fisheries, the smell of coffee shops, the smell of local restaurants’ cooking, or the smell of exhaust fumes from a big city are all things you will remember and carry on with you even after you leave a place. The sounds of nothingness, the sound of birds chirping, the sound of rain, the sound of waves, the sound of constant movement and traffic, and the sound of people you meet where you go will stay with you long after you get back home. The feeling of the wind or dry air or misty rain or sand between your toes will never leave you.
5. There are always surprises
Good or bad surprises, you will have some. Maybe it rains the whole time and you have to find other ways to explore the city. Or maybe you stumbled across a hidden gem while getting lost…. I mean meaningfully meandering. Perhaps you start talking to a local at dinner one night and learn about some secret, local-known spot to visit. Maybe you will meet new friends, or maybe you will find out you want to move to that town. Maybe the local cuisine pleasantly surprises you. Anything is possible, and this is another lesson that traveling teaches you: be prepared for anything and just go with the flow. Traveling is supposed to be fun and not micro-managed. Just see what is out there!
Now, get to traveling, folks!