When I was younger my mom made sure to pass on her love for travel to my sister and I, so from a very young age, I began to embrace the idea of visiting new places. Now my sister and I are both travel junkies, addicted to the concept of discovering places we’ve never been before. We save our hard-earned money and make these adventures happen, one by one.
Two years ago I took a term off school and decided to backpack through South America with two of my best friends. Miraculously, we made it to four countries in a month and a half and did it all under a very tight budget. It was easily one of the best experiences of my life. That trip truly changed my life and has prompted me to encourage others to do the same.
If you haven’t already begun your traveling experiences, it’s never too late. Here are a few reasons why making time in your life for travel will completely change your world.
Research has shown that the act of planning a trip or time off boosts your mood quite a bit. Unfortunately, our country has developed around the concept of long work days and limited vacation time. According to USA Today, the United States is the only country in the world that doesn’t have legally required vacation time, while many countries in Europe make it mandatory. Austria, for example, boasts 22 paid vacation days and 13 required paid holidays.
The result of our country’s strict work regime is a population of individuals who feel stressed, tired and to some extent quite unhappy. Therefore, it is up to us to plan for some time away from home, even if it’s just one week out of the year. Prioritize your happiness above all else and give yourself the gift of embracing your freedom.
Meet and greet
It’s inevitable that you will meet people during your travels, especially if you choose to stay in hostels or use services, such as Couchsurfing or Airbnb. Some of the greatest people I know I’ve met during my travels. It’s amazing how having a conversation with a local or a fellow traveler can broaden your mind. They’ll give you a different perspective on life and encourage you to try new things, and they may even become lifelong friends.
Up your street smarts
Traveling is going to force you to use your brain, whether you like it or not. You’re going to have to learn how to interact with people, find your way around new places and even figure out menus at restaurants. You’ll be using your smarts to avoid dangerous situations and instances where people are trying to hustle and rip you off. Every culture is different and will have different things you’ll have to learn by trial and error—just always remember to think twice in all that you do.
Immerse yourself in the culture
This is probably the best part of traveling, as it requires you to learn the little details that make up a culture and requires you to respect and follow the various customs associated with each culture. You may end up eating, sleeping, communicating and traveling way differently than you are used to. You’re also going to have so many new sights, sounds and smells to experience everywhere you go.
You’ll never be the same
Traveling is life-changing. Not only will you come home with a broader perspective of the world, chock-full with new information, but you’ll also come home feeling like a different person. That time on the road forces you to experience yourself in a new light, and may end up prompting you to change things within yourself as well. You’ll come back wiser, stronger and most likely injected with the travel bug. Be ready to want to explore every nook and cranny in this beautiful world we live in.