Why would anyone want to travel? And more than that, why would anyone think they need to travel? What is this burning desire to see what’s beyond your own front door or your hometown’s city limits? Why can’t everyone just be satisfied to “grow where they’re planted”? Well, because different people need to see and do different things! I know lots of people from my tiny hometown who love where they live and see no need to leave. And I respect that. There are a lot of good things about living in a small town. But for me, and for lots of people I’ve met along my life’s journey, there are a great many positives about exploring and experiencing the world God made! Here are 5 good reasons to consider traveling:
1. Understand That You Don’t Have to Understand
Traveling somewhere new is the only way to begin to understand people in a place and culture other than your own. You don’t have to know the native language to communicate with people, you just have to be willing to understand that your way is not the only way—and perhaps not even the best way! As I began to travel, I also began to understand that I don’t have to understand. No one who lives anywhere else, doing something I’d never want to do for a living, needs me to understand their way of life. I only need to respect them and be kind.
2. Understand Yourself
Traveling has taught me a great deal about myself. I’m smarter than I thought, but also a bit clumsier. I can also make do with just about anything, eat anything a kind soul puts in front of me, and survive just about anywhere. And I can make friends with just about anyone! This doesn’t mean I “found myself” while traveling; I know who I am and where I’ve come from. What I didn’t know was whether or not I could survive outside of my little town. Turns out, I could. And you can, too! Traveling makes people realize there’s more to themselves than meets the eye when they look in the mirror.
3. Gain Confidence
Traveling has given me opportunities to see and do things I never could have imagined on my own. I’ve climbed glaciers and learned to ski in the Alaskan wilderness, seen the Fairy Chimneys in Turkey from one of the largest hot air balloons in the world, and explored the Great Barrier Reef! Those are all cool things to do, but what’s more, they’re the kind of opportunities that give a person confidence. Taking a leap when you try something new gives you the confidence to keep trying new things, and before you know it, you’ve built up a mountain of confidence that you’re already standing on top of!
4. Gain Humility
So now that we’ve talked about confidence, let’s point out the humility that also comes with traveling. I don’t mean utter humiliation (although that sometimes happens, too!), I mean the realization that others have it harder than you do. Others have a better way of doing things than you. You might have to depend on a complete stranger for help when you just don’t know which way to go or what to do! Many people around the world speak two, three, or even more languages very skillfully. I have a dear friend in Switzerland, Bianca, who has achieved fluency in four languages, and can communicate in six more! It amazes and humbles me, especially after I traveled to France with her–she’s fluent in French, and all I can say is “merci!”
5. Learn to Roll with the Punches
Travel has taught me that I don’t have to control all aspects of my life–and that I simply can’t! Sometimes you have to sleep in the airport. And sometimes volcanic activity cancels your flight 10 hours in advance, and there seem to be no other flight options for the next 34 hours (or more!). Sometimes your travel companions are not where they said they’d be, and they totally say it’s your fault–but then you have to swallow your pride and spend the next week with them. Maybe the train employees in Paris are on strike and you nearly miss your flight. And you just have to roll with it!
I’ve never once had a perfectly smooth trip, but I have survived each and every one, and I’ve had to learn a lot of patience along the way! Traveling teaches you how to take every moment for what it’s worth. It also teaches you how to adjust your expectations and your own reality to make it to the next moment. There is always another flight, there are always people there to help you (but sometimes you have to stick your neck out and ask), and you will make it!
So, what’s your reason for traveling, or what has traveling taught you? What snafus have turned into great experiences or learning moments?
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