I first started this post intending to write about why I travel. But as I wrote and revised, I started to feel like I was trying too hard to find big, noble reasons that would inspire others to want to travel, too.
The truth is, I don’t usually have big, noble reasons to travel.
We took our first trip as a couple because it sounded like a fun adventure to go to Cancun. We planned our next trip to Hawaii for the same reason. The obvious benefits of having fun together and creating good memories are often all the motivation we need to plan a trip.
Still, besides the fun experiences, over time I have noticed three unanticipated benefits from my travels that I am really grateful for.
I’ve read a few books by Brené Brown lately and have appreciated her insights about life. When I was thinking about what I’ve learned from my travels and how I’ve changed, the words courage, compassion, and connection kept coming to me. In Brené’s words:
To practice courage, compassion and connection is to look at life and the people around us, and say, “I’m all in.”The Gifts of Imperfection, page 21
I am working to be “all in” in my life, and travel is helping me to get there.
Yes, I travel to have fun, but travel is not always fun, is it?
Much of travel is waiting in airports, encouraging tired kids, dealing with mishaps, etc. These experiences will show you what you are really made of!
I recently contributed to a guest post for a fellow travel blogger at My Travel Fix about my experiences traveling with anxiety. As I worked on this post, I realized how I have grown through my travels from someone who tended to avoid hard things to someone who is willing to do things that scare me when they are important to me.
When my husband and I took a trip to Jerusalem, I was so happy and grateful to be in such an incredible place, but I also felt afraid of all the unknown. I was so far from home and everything that was familiar to me, and all of the newness was just a little too much. The first night was rough.
But the next morning I ventured out anyway. I didn’t dwell on my overwhelm from the night before or let it drag me down. My husband and I were up to see the sunrise and had an amazing few days exploring the city.
I’ve learned over the years not to worry about hard first nights and not to be paralyzed by my fears.
My family and I are often exhausted from a long day of travel when we arrive in a new place, and sometimes it makes us wonder why we even planned the trip in the first place. But after a good night’s sleep and in the light of a new day, everything is always more clear.
My excitement to explore and experience new things is available if I am just willing to get going.
My travels have taken a lot of courage, and I have become stronger as a result. I have seen what I am capable of, and I no longer want to hide from new experiences.
Compassion and Connection
My brother-in-law recently shared this quote with me and I’ve pondered it since:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
I’ve never felt like I had any prejudice against others, but I realize now that for much of my life I also didn’t have a lot of interest in the lives of people who seemed different from me.
That has definitely changed as I have traveled to other countries and mingled with people from many different cultures. I have begun to genuinely care about the people we meet and have a real interest in their lives.
Back at home, I am drawn to people in a new way and love to listen to their stories and learn from their unique experiences. I seek out opportunities to associate with people from all cultures and find ways to bring us together.
I love feeling a real connection with people from all over the world, and I being able to relate, even just a little, to where they come from and some of their experiences. I’ve learned that we always have more similarities than differences, that we really are just one big human family.
What benefits have come to you through your travels? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!