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Travel is much more than escaping the demands of work and home while we relax on a beach somewhere. There are many life lessons to be had while traveling, many of which you can pick up quite easily without much effort.

Travel exposes you to new cultures and ideas, while often presenting you with many new and unique situations, all of which can collectively help you grow as an individual.

Whether positive or negative, your travel experiences are likely to stay with you a long time and have the ability to shape who you become.

If you found learning in a classroom difficult, fear not, because not all lessons are taught within four walls by a teacher that just doesn’t seem to get you.

Travel may just be one of the world’s greatest teachers, educating you in some of life’s most important lessons. Here are the top 8 life lessons you can gain through traveling the world.

8 Life Lessons You Can Only Gain by Traveling

Learn Who You Really Are

Hagia Sophia Istanbul

Traveling allows you the time to focus on yourself and realize what you want out of life or what direction you want your life to head in.

Self reflection occurs even greater in solo travelers. Daily routines back home can see you develop bad habits or you may continually be engaging with unhealthy social groups.

Travel allows you to break free from temptations and distractions where you can then take time to learn who you really are without the normal pressures that may be pulling you in the wrong direction.

You can realize things about yourself that you need to change, discover new interests or talents you never knew you had, and learn what your limits are.

And while travel can help you discover more about yourself and the things you may need, you should always take time before you make travel plans to ensure you’re fit both physically and mentally to travel.

Travel never allows us to run away; our problems typically follow us on the plane. And because travel itself can be stressful and intimidating, it can potentially exacerbate both physical ailments and mental health issues you may be struggling with.

You should always schedule a checkup with your doctor before traveling if it’s been awhile since your last visit. You should also deal with any problems such as substance abuse whether that means visiting a drug rehab Miami leading mental health professionals recommend or at the very least traveling with someone you trust that can offer you support for your addiction so it doesn’t spiral out of control without your normal assistance you get back home.

Learn to Value Experiences Over Things

Cuverville Island, Antarctica.

There’s no denying that “things” can bring us joy, but the happiness they bring us is often very fleeting. Whether it’s shopping at physical stores or online, accumulating possessions helps us get through each work week and offers us physical proof of what we are gaining or achieving by slaving away at our jobs day in and day out.

The exciting novelty of our possessions most often fades quickly, unlike experiences which can truly last a lifetime. One of the best things about travel is we begin to learn just how little we need to survive and still experience happiness.

Most of us literally live out of a suitcase while traveling, with just a small assortment of clothes, toiletries, and maybe a good book, and yet we yearn to take a holiday whenever we can despite needing to leave behind most of our possessions each time we do so.

Sure we may pick up a few souvenirs abroad, but it is the sights we see, the people we meet, the activities we partake in, and the photos we take to remember it all which stays with us.

Travel can help us learn to be less materialistic in our normal everyday lives, and seek out experiences with family and friends instead of resorting to purchasing things to find happiness.

Expanding Your Comfort Zone

We humans are creatures of routine. Because many of us follow a stringent schedule week in and week out, we very rarely are presented with new unfamiliar situations.

But routine can easily force us into a constrictive shell where it becomes increasingly more difficult to be daring.

Travel on the other hand throws us all kinds of new challenges and foreign ways of doing things. From sampling new kinds of cuisine to learning new languages and trying new activities, travel forces us outside the familiar, daring us to expand our comfort zone and become more fearless.

For me personally, traveling has seen me skydive from planes and abseil off skyscrapers despite being rather fearful of heights. It has also seen me taste dishes like haggis, fermented shark, and piranha.

I’ve let spiders crawl on me, held snakes, and slept beside giant seals on the beach. The longer I travel, the more I feel I can tackle almost anything.

Gain New Perspectives

A visit to Dongguan Great Mosque Xining offers a fascinating insight into Chinese Muslim culture.

We often fear or criticize that which we don’t understand. We are quick to judge other cultures and their way of life despite having zero first-hand knowledge of why things are done the way they are.

Travelling allows us to see with our own eyes what is going on around the world and hopefully gain understanding that there is more than just one story and not necessarily just one right way of doing things.

As you travel more and more, you are likely to notice your attitude towards many things will begin to change. These changes in attitude are also most likely to be positive as you begin to accept different cultures’ beliefs.

While it isn’t necessary to alter your own beliefs or ideas, we all have an obligation to at least be respectful of other cultures and be less discriminatory.

Only by traveling abroad and actively engaging with other cultures are we able to learn how to respect one another and realize we all share more similarities than differences.

Strengthen Your Social Connections

Jilin China

A great side effect of traveling with family or friends is it often allows you to strengthen your bonds with one another. Yes, we may tend to quarrel a bit more while traveling with loved ones due to the stresses of travel, but it also forces you to rely on each other for support as you face the unfamiliar and learn to navigate the many obstacles travel can present you with.

Many of the distractions that are present back home are also removed when we travel, thus allowing us more time to really connect with loved ones and have meaningful conversations that may be long overdue.

Even solo travelers often find they become closer to family and friends. They soon realize just how much the people closest to them mean to them.

Solo travelers may even find themselves communicating with friends and family more while traveling than they normal would back home, whether it be simply from having the time to do so or out of missing them and the support they can offer.

In addition to strengthening bonds with family and friends, travel also often forces us to rely on the kindness of strangers for assistance and advice. Whether it‘s asking for directions from locals on the street or making purchases from shopkeepers, you can’t forgo interactions with others while traveling.

I personally have met some of my closest friends while traveling, and even went on to marry one complete stranger who I had only spent but a few fleeting hours with in Africa.

Because our senses are heightened when we travel, the people you meet while traveling often result in stronger connections and these people become individuals you will remember for the rest of your life.

 Become More Flexible and Understanding

Solar panels outdoor car 4WD

The one guarantee about travel is that things aren’t likely to go perfectly to plan despite how thoroughly you prepare. Travel forces you to become more flexible and always have a plan B in place, which can be beneficial to other areas of your everyday life whether it be at work or home.

Flights get delayed, bookings get lost, and as we have recently seen, travel restrictions can be put into place with very little warning.

While travel insurance can assist you financially when dealing with a range of unfortunate travel-related mishaps, it can’t help you with the mental strain of having to forgo certain travel plans or having to deal with delays or distractions that take precious time away from your holiday.

You simply have to get on with things and come to expect that your itinerary may experience some detours along the way. Travel also encourages you to become more understanding with others and certain situations.

Managing millions of travelers is no simple task for airlines, hotels, and tour operators, especially when language barriers and culture differences are present.

We all need to accept that the travel industry much like most industries are run by people and therefore mistakes are inevitable.

Relive History and Understand Why Things Are the Way They Are

Venice sightseeing

You can read all the history books and binge all the period dramas you want, but nothing is a substitute for actually setting foot in the places where important historical events took place.

Traveling to historical places brings out emotion and feelings that can’t be experienced simply through words or visuals on a screen. And it’s important to learn from our past so we can avoid making the same mistakes.

While you can read about historical atrocities, nothing brings them to life quite like seeing the places where it all happened with your own eyes.

For example, I had read Anne Frank’s diary as a child but actually roaming the very house where Anne and her family hid from Nazi persecution brought tears to my eyes and made it seem a lot more real.

Knowing the history of the places you visit will also allow you to understand why things are the way they are. You will learn why many modern day conflicts exist and why things like specific types of architecture, cuisine, and language exist where they do whether it be from colonialism or another factor.

While simply reading about history can prove boring to many, actually interacting with it through hands-on experiences results in intriguing insights and reflection.

Realize the Importance of Giving Back

Hi Five for international volunteers.

While it’s great to discover more about yourself and learn ways to be happier in your everyday life through travel, it’s important to remember that life isn’t all about yourself.

Travel makes us realize how much assistance is needed around the world. The news stories that actually reach our screens everyday are just a miniscule glimpse of the many issues that need attention globally.

By traveling and keeping our eyes and ears open, we begin to learn the many causes that are worth more attention or a fight. You can hear about climate change, but actually seeing deforested rainforests in person really brings about the severity of the issue and the immediacy with which it needs to be dealt with.

Seeing starving children beg you for any kind of handout you can give or populations needlessly dying due to a lack of clean water, medical services, and basic supplies that are readily available elsewhere will quickly force you to want to give back.

Whether you schedule in part of your holiday time to giving back to the local communities and fragile natural environments you visit, or raise funds and promote issues needing attention when you get back home, there are a number of ways you can give back to this world without sacrificing much of your time or own resources.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    4 Comments

  1. Hi Meg,

    All are invaluable lessons I learned by circling the globe for over 10 years. Gaining new perspectives helped get me over myself. I learned how billions of human beings offer different viewpoints compared to my prior USA-centric views. I also valued experiences over things deeply enough to where I now own a backpack, carry-on, Chromebook, laptop, phone and 1 week’s change of clothes. I feel free. Virtually no-thing holds me back.

    Ryan

    • Thanks for sharing your personal journey Ryan, I totally agree, I’m do glad I had the opportunity to travel in my young adulthood, as it really does make you well grounded and humble, anmd not allow you to fall down the rabbit hole of believing the whole world and their views align with you.

      I LOVE that you travel in such a minimalistic way – I’m still, trying to achieve that, chronic overpacker here!! But I’m getting there slowly :D

  2. Megan, great insights. Though I haven’t been able to travel as much as I wish, I’ve had some amazing adventures, like getting lost on a 4×4 trail (that google said was a road!) in Costa Rica, alone, with no cell service and not speaking the language.

    One important lesson I learned is how to travel alone. I think everyone should do it at least once. It really pushes your understanding of what you are capable of. When the little or big things go wrong, and you have to deal with them alone, you realize you have far more resources than you knew.

    • Thanks for reading Charles, it sounds like you’ve had some incredible adventures indeed! God love Google Maps – amazing though sometimes can definitely lead to adventure itself :D

      I totally agree with you on traveling alone – I truly believe I learned more about life and the world, and gained a more well rounded education about being a person, and my place within society, from traveling alone than I ever did at school, or the independence leadership camp style workshops they run for you in high school.

      Such an eye opening and life changing experience, and so powerful for personal growth :)

      Thanks for reading, and happy travels! Here’s to more amazing adventure Xx

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