I was born to travel. I knew from a very young age that I would visit other countries and see the world. I remember being 13 years old and making a plan that included getting a good job and not having children in order to make my goal of travel more attainable. Well, now I’m 30 years old and I’ve traveled to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. So far I’ve been to about 25 countries and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.
After leaving my tiny hometown in Missouri and really seeing the outside world for the first time, I knew I was hooked. The world is so much more complicated and wonderful and diverse than I ever imagined. And now I’m convinced that everybody should experience traveling to another country, too. Here are five reasons why.
Traveling diminishes fear and misunderstandings about the world. The world isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be or as the media makes it out to be. I’ve been to many places considered “dangerous” and never felt in danger. In fact, I’ve encountered just the opposite. Everywhere I go people have been warm and helpful and accommodating. Fear prevents us from living, growing, and experiencing the world. Traveling has diminished many of the fears I once had.
Traveling encourages open-mindedness. Stereotypes get shattered when you travel. You meet people and realize there’s more to them than what you’ve been taught or what you’ve seen on TV. I’ve learned people are just people and generally want the same things as everyone else.
Traveling teaches you about your own culture. After experiencing other cultures, I’ve come to better understand my own. each culture has its own blend of weird habits, interesting yet often detrimental traditions, various flaws and perks. Leaving one’s country can provide a unique perspective.
Traveling encourages independence. I’ve always been an independent and hard-working individual, but never as much as when I’m traveling. The life skills I’ve acquired from finding accommodations, transportation, and managing money while traveling have made me more successful and less dependent on others.
Traveling helps you appreciate what you have. It’s easy to complain about one’s country when you’ve never experienced anything different. Now that I’ve returned home for awhile after three years abroad, I have a new appreciation for all the wonderful opportunities my country has to offer. Traveling has made me more patriotic, but less ethnocentric.
My goal was originally to travel to every country in the world, but let’s be realistic. There are 196 countries and I’ve only been to about 25 or so. A more attainable goal might be to visit every continent. But mostly, I just want to experience the world, try new things, learn other languages, broaden my horizons, and get all that I can out of this life.
Looking forward to my next adventure, and hoping you do the same, too!