So, you think about taking your dream trip, quit your job or simply go on a weekend getaway. But it’s expensive. But there’s so much you could do with your time. Like work. Or watch TV. You could watch the news and hear about another war that’s about to take place. You could even watch National Geographic and save yourself the time on the plane.
You could. Challenge is you might miss on some of the fantastic benefits that come with travel. Here are 11 out of at least a million reasons why travel is really good for you.
1. Decrease your footprint: Whether you use a suitcase, a backpack or anything in between, travel gets you out of the comfort zone of “stuff”. Even if you lean toward packing “too much” for “just in case”, you might not want to pay a fine for carrying more than the airline company wants you to put on the plane. Especially if you’re headed to more than one flight. This, in turn, might teach you – as it taught me – that you can actually get along with relatively very little “stuff”. It might teach you do need as much material weight as you’re used to having in your life, yet if you take the opportunity and learn to thrive with less, you can continue supporting Earth when you return home. It’s much more eco-friendly not to fill spaces with countless, usually unnecessary, material objects. And this is coming from someone who definitely has more “stuff” than she knows what to do with. One of my goals for 2012 is to decrease the amount of my stuff and to decrease my footprint in ruining this planet.
2. Learn how to become organized: OK, so some of you are already super-organized. Maybe you can learn how to become messy, not caring about your clothes not being in one regular place in the closet. I enjoy messiness and I think some messiness supports my creativity. However, on my trip, I practiced organizational skills. It was important because I wanted to make sure all my belongings fit in my suitcase and I wanted to know where different items were located, so that I don’t need to look through my entire suitcase each day.
3. Let go of control: I spent a year planning my trip. Not that I needed a year to plan it, but rather I got all excited, it was a dream come true, and I couldn’t stop reading about the different places I would be visiting. This is how I discovered the ability to go dolphin and whale watching in Dana Point, California – right between San Diego and Anaheim (Disneyland for you)! That was such a fun experience! So planning is great, and you can’t plan everything. In fact, 3 months before I planned on landing in Bariloche, Argentina, a volcano erupted in the Chilean lake district, and Bariloche was affected greatly, and it was unclear whether I would be able to visit it – and I planned on spending two weeks in that area out of a 5 week trip! Now top that off with a hurricane in New York very few days before I was to land there and a seminar I had to submit to my university….. and I had to let go of control. Fortunately, it all worked out. Both the Bariloche area and the NY area everything worked out perfectly, and I even got to practice some very fun spontaneity!
4. Embrace the present moment: If you lead a busy life, you KNOW there’s no real time to stop. This is how my life looked like before the trip: university-work-work-university-university-work-work-university…. and sometimes I also slept and ate. Yet when I traveled, I had this jaw-dropping beauty surrounding me and I couldn’t stop looking. I wanted to indulge every single instant I had there, so much so that it took me 5 hours to take a 3 hour route in Ushuaia (Argentina) – and it was only 5 hours because I didn’t make it to the end of the hike – I had a bus to catch back to town center or I would be left at the Tierra del Fuego National Park to spend the night. Check out photos from Ushuaia here.
5. Discover that a half-empty glass means the glass is half full: Coming from a tiny country like Israel, visiting someone who lives 2 hours away feels like going abroad. I went when I had a full day off, which was almost never for the majority of my adult life thus far. About once a year, to be exact. It’s two hours there, then two hours back and you also want to spend some time with that person, right? Some people even look at my 1 hour daily commute (per direction) as being too long. Therefore, I didn’t know if I would be able to make it through the very long bus rides I heard take place in South America. Having “only” 5 weeks to travel through Argentina, I budgeted interior flights in advance. I booked Aerolinas Argentina’s Visit Argentina Pass and therefore got a discount. They also have a South American Pass if you’re interested. However, due to volcanic ash chaos from Chile, I ended up spending 23.5 hours inside a bus on the way from Puerto Madryn to El Calafate – instead of approximately 1 hour in the air, taking photos of beautiful clouds.
I was miserable. It was one of the very few times I felt truly miserable during my trip. All other moments felt like pure joyful magic.
Yet the glass was half full. I saw a gorgeous sunset. I met a fun person on the bus and we talked for hours. I saw the night sky as I had never seen it before. And shortly before Calafate, I saw a field of snow like – yes, like I have never seen before.
6. You’ll ask for help: Being in a new place and not knowing your way around, you’ll likely find yourself asking for help. It might scare you if you’re shy, yet you’d be surprised how gracious people can be. I once asked for directions from a man in Ushuaia, and he ended up telling me about coming from Chile to Argentina 2-3 decades ago, adjusting to Ushuaia’s freezing winters and how Ushuaia used to be before much construction took place. It was fun and fascinating. I’m sure other places in the world are great for practicing this skill, but if you’re unsure where to go – go to Argentina.
7. Communicate with people that have different backgrounds and experiences: During my travels, I got to meet people from many places in the world, who experienced things very similar and very foreign to my life experiences. It was fun, captivating and eye-opening. Traveling alone is great for that. In Argentina, there wasn’t a day I didn’t have at least one long conversation with a local or fellow traveler.
8. Discover that beauty is everywhere: It started with planning this trip. Or maybe even back in New Zealand in 2009. I developed a passion for travel. I started seeing beauty EVERYWHERE. On a daily basis, I take a bus route I’ve taken in full or in part for more than a decade. I used to think it was boring to go by the same route time and time again. Now I look out the window and you can find me taking pictures. It got worse since this last trip. There IS beauty everywhere. The trees change form. The fields change form. The clouds change form. The buildings stay the same, yet a new building is being built and people-watching is still interesting and always different. I’ve taken so many photos from my bus window over the last few months since I returned, you’d think I’m absolutely new to this area. Travel did that for me. In Puerto Iguazu (Argentina), I found beauty in every leaf, and stopping to see the beauty everywhere helped me see butterflies that flew away when hurried steps passed through the trail. You can see some photos from that day here, and the beauty of the everyday in central Israel here.
9. Exercise: With my infamous schedule of studying and working, working and studying, I barely got any exercise done. In the weeks before my flight, I started practicing walking and climbing stairs. As a result, I was able to spend hours walking non-stop, and it was a lot of fun developing that skill with my body. Therefore, whether you’re trekking on a glacier in Argentina’s Calafate, hiking around the Grand Canyon in the States or wander through the streets of Tel-Aviv, one thing is sure – travel supports your health!
10. Experiment with new foods: As I traveled through Southwest US, my relatives took it upon themselves to introduce me to a bunch of new, weird, tasty foods. It was great! Among other foods, I tasted all kinds of Mexican foods for the first time.
11. Learn new skills: Many people experiment with new adventures while on the road. Some people take diving lessons or learn how to enjoy a museum. I already went skydiving in Israel a few years ago, so in Argentina, I learned how to trek on a glacier. In New Zealand I learned how to kayak (well, sort of). In New York, I learned how to sleep in hostels.
As I wrote earlier, these are only some of the benefits that come with traveling. Just going through these reasons made me smile, and made me anticipate even more the next change I’ll get to hit the road.
Here are some posts that might bring a smile to your face and have you booking your next adventure:
Sarah of Wandering Off takes her 3 year old traveling, so that when she grows up, she understands people have different perspectives because they come from different places. Read her post on Brendan’s Adventures.
Budget Travel Adventures shows you how travel bucket lists can be the beginning or articulation of passions.
What do you treasure most about traveling?