“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” This quote is cliche, but that does not make it less true. I am definitely a fan of being richer, but I’d say the main reason I’m such a huge proponent of traveling as much as possible is because honestly, it seems to make you less of an asshole. Here are a few reasons to support my claim.
1.Traveling humbles you.
As Americans we are constantly telling ourselves how great we are, how powerful we are, how everyone wants to live here and be us. This is a giant load of shit. Traveling has really humbled me in this aspect. When I walked the Camino de Santiago I spent a lot of time with Arnaud who is half-French, half-German, and at least 5+ years younger than me. Not only was he barely out of high school and doing the same (actually much more) traveling and hiking as me, but he also spoke German, French, and English fluently, and just picked up Spanish on the camino. That kid was insane. The more I travel, the more I meet people like Arnaud. Here in Wichita, Kansas people marvel at the number of places I’ve been, but it is such a small, insignificant amount compared to so many people I’ve met while traveling. People here also comment on how cool it is that I speak Spanish, but all I can do is think about how much cooler it would be if I had grown up speaking multiple languages like they do in Europe.
And sure, there are lots of people that try to come make a new life for themselves in the United States, but the vast majority of people I meet who live in other countries are very content where they are and have zero desire to live in the U.S. They want nothing to do with our over-stressed, over-worked way of life. Also, have you ever thought about how many people leave the United States to make a new life? You could go to any major city in the world, and even many many not-so-major cities, and find American ex-pats. Like, a lot of them.
2.Traveling makes you feel invincible.
You are navigating your way through the world – through different languages, transportation systems, and customs. Anytime I master a public transit system I feel like I can do anything. When I’m able to communicate in another language, I feel powerful. By putting myself in all these new situations I have to figure out, I am constantly challenging myself and succeeding. Even when I’m not really succeeding at what I might have set out to do, I’m still succeeding at learning new and wonderful things about the world, and about myself. And when I feel better about myself, I’m more open and compassionate with others.
3.Traveling inspires you.
Every time I travel I see some new beautiful building, or some amazing new fashion, or meet some incredible person that just fills me with awe and wonder, it makes me want to be better at life. Seeing these things makes me feel like I need to be using my creative energies more, channeling my passions more, putting my hands and heart to work more. It pushes me to be more authentically me by surrounding myself with all the things my heart desires: adventure, beauty, innovation, originality. When I’m thinking about and surrounded by all that light, it’s hard to let the dark in and be negative.
4.Traveling makes you stronger.
I am much more physically active when I travel. I walk everywhere to take in as much as possible. Plus I just don’t have a car at my disposal, usually. But aside from becoming physically stronger, it also makes me mentally stronger. There are so many things I’ve thought I couldn’t do, only to push through the doubt and prove myself wrong. I didn’t think I could navigate whole countries where I don’t speak the language on my own, I didn’t think I could make friends in other countries, I didn’t think I could walk 500 miles (especially when I climb in my car to literally drive from one store to another 1/4 of a mile away here at home), but then I did. Once I am outside the comfort of my home, I am forced to face the world head on; there is no familiar face or street to run to – and sometimes that is just what the soul needs.
5.Traveling promotes world peace; it makes you feel connected.
The more you travel, the more you realize how small the world really is, and how similar we all really are. Sure in Spain they have designated nap time everyday, they eat dinner at 10pm, and wine flows freely any meal of the day, but they also go to work and school just like us, love their friends and family just like us, and are simply trying to find their place in this world, just like us. Plus, it’s really hard to demonize, or hate a group of people when you relate to them.
So for the good of all mankind, go out and see something new!