Running a travel blog comes with a set list of expectations. I’m supposed to provide guides to cities I visit accompanied by pretty pictures. On top of that, I usually do it in a specific format. As you can imagine, this gets quite repetitive, and this feeling of monotony (and several essays) lead to a monthlong hiatus because I was feeling uninspired. I realised while I was making my latest post on Edinburgh, I’m giving my (small) audience all these guides, but I realised I was missing an important component.
I never talked about why you should travel in the first place.
Travelling has changed my life and matured me at a pace that nothing back in the states could have done. I completely owe who I am today to my travels and my times living abroad, and I wouldn’t want to be who I was before travelling for a second. Today, I’ll discuss in four ways what travelling has done for me.
Before my first time living abroad, I was largely irrational, temperamental, and immature; basically, I was your average 13-year-old. However, being 15 years old and dropped in the middle of Italy without knowing anyone or anything pretty much forced me to grow up at a rate far quicker than I had imagined. Being so incredibly outside my comfort zone is what forced me to change and change my perspective on absolutely everything the world has to offer. And being outside your comfort zone, or in the unknown, builds your tolerance as a human being.
There’s often a fear of the unknown that’s portrayed in a society, which leads to a scapegoat. This fear mixed with irrationality/rage is eventually what turns into bigotry. However, it’s easy to curb bigotry by beginning to know the unknown. For example, I considered myself to be as informed as I could possibly be! Despite this, I had never been to the parts of the world whose people are being oppressed in the US. Earlier this year, I started going to countries that are generally unfamiliar with the West. My experiences with the people were eye-opening and they taught me more than any internet research could possibly teach me. After, I felt these trips truly made me a better person from being able to “know the unknown.”
The more you face the unknown, the more you have to adapt; this adaptation is ultimately what helps builds tolerance.
Travelling, especially in a foreign country without knowing the language, forces you to get into some sticky situations. You’ll slip up, embarrass yourself, and get lost. For example, in Croatia, we lost our parking ticket and I had to discuss with the owner in broken Croatian about what happened. My butchered Croatian eventually helped and he happily sent us off with a “doviđenja!” I know I made an idiot of myself trying to speak his language, I didn’t have a choice but to muster up the courage to do so to get out of this ordeal. Travelling requires a certain chutzpah few people have; the more this trait is emboldened, the more your self-esteem will manifest itself in your daily life. I can tell you, the constant mishaps I’ve had abroad have been the biggest factor in my high self-esteem.
Would I have been able to eat scorpion, hold a sheikh’s $100,000 falcon, hitchhike three countries, be in Anne Frank’s home, see the Mona Lisa, swim with stingrays and more if I stayed in LA? The answer is no! There are so many incredibly unique experiences around the world, and it would be a shame to not be able to take advantage of the immense diversity the world has to offer. Of course, travelling is expensive, but it is possible to do it on less than $55 a day. These experiences don’t even have to be as extreme as some of the ones listed above. One of my top 3 favourite memories of all time wasn’t anything already said; it was eating sushi in a hole-in-the-wall in Tokyo. It was one of those long moments where one savours every bite of a meal; this seems to hyperstimulate all other senses and provide a full-body experience. It’s these experiences where I’ll reminisce and realise I really lived and took in all the world has to offer.
Get to Know Yourself
It sounds cliche, but I’ve learned pretty much everything about who I am today as a result of travelling. The reasons above (combined with my preference of travelling alone) have allowed myself to become my own best friend. This means I can be alone with my own thoughts for days (or weeks) on end and not go insane! This connects to the first two reasons; when you get to know yourself is when you can become secure and when you can truly flourish as a human being. When you travel, you learn how you handle difficult situations, how to avoid past mistakes, and you learn that you can do things you didn’t know you can do. New parts of you are formed by experiences, how you see yourself can be changed by a single trip!
If you decide to skip to the end
and not read the unnecessary amount of effort I put in into this post, I want you, the readers to take away this quote which summarises my entire view on travel:
“travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.”