16 Amazing Benefits of Travel : How Travel Makes You
a Better Person
So much is said about the ways in which travel can be life-changing and help you experience all kinds of positive things, but what are the actual benefits of travel? Do the benefits of travel outweigh the disadvantages of travel? Can travel actually make you a healthier or happier person?
It’s true that the full-time, long term travel life isn’t easy. Any kind of travel has its pros and cons alike – (I’ll save the cons for another post) – however, the benefits of travel are so vast, I think sometimes we take them for granted.
Especially when we’re travelling long-term – I know I do sometimes.
When I really think deep on this topic, I feel the benefits of travel tremendously outweigh the drawbacks, especially as the drawbacks can be managed or minimised if you’re smart. Or as I like to call it, if you’re ‘Travel Savvy’ 🙂
As for the benefits of travel making you a better person, I can’t help you become as awesome as me, (haha), but I can guarantee, travel will help you evolve into a better version of yourself.
The Benefits of Travel – the Scientific Proof
There are lots of studies to support the health & wellness benefits of travel, as well as the self-development benefits of travel.
Travel exposes you to totally different and new environments, i.e; the street food culture of Southeast Asia, or the crowded backpacking mecca of Australia or Europe. This exposure often results in your body coming across new germs. This, in turn, can boost your immune system, because it creates stronger antibodies.
According to Joel Weinstock, Chief of Gastroenterology at Tufts Medical Centre; “In the 20th century, we started changing the way we live. We live in very clean boxes. Water is immaculate. Food is nearly sterile. Exposure to bacteria and soil is less common. Certain diseases that were essentially unknown in the 18th century and earlier are becoming common now.”
Multiple research studies in the past, imply that being exposed to some germs and minor illnesses, can keep your body and gut more established. So when you travel from place to place, your body automatically adjusts to a large number of minuscule ‘germ-bodies’, which makes it much more grounded.
Adam Galinsky, a Columbia Business School professor who has authored several studies on the connection between international travel and creativity, had this to say:
“Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.”
However, travelling alone, without being purposeful about engaging, isn’t enough, he adds.
“The key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion and adaptation,” he explains further, “Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment.”
I love this quote as it’s exactly what I love to do when I travel to a new country – engage with it. Immersive travel. You’ll hear me refer to this way of travel a lot, over this blog.
You can shove lots of things into an itinerary and tick your landmark goals off an itinerary list; but I feel like I’ve really experienced a country when I engage with the culture, the people and the food.
So with the science part over and with that in mind, I’m about to throw at you some of the real Benefits of Travel, whether it’s short term or long term travel.
16 Amazing Benefits of Travel: How Travel Can Make You
a Better Person
1. Travel Educates You
One of the major benefits of travel is that the art of travel will educate you, everywhere you go. Travel will throw you into a world of new cultures, fascinating histories, unfamiliar infrastructure, new cuisine and foreign languages. It’s impossible for you to travel and not learn something new.
Sometimes learning about a countries precarious history or why an unusual custom is practised in a country, can make your travel experience in that country much easier, and you’ll be respected more by the locals.
“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of the experience.”
This famous travel quote by Francis Bacon, explains that although everyone gets different things out of travel, it always has something for everyone.
2. Get a Vitamin D Boost
A lot of the countries you’ll choose to travel to will likely have hot climates and an abundance of sunlight. Exposure to sunlight means a boost in your Vitamin D levels, which makes this one of the ‘medical’ benefits of travel.
I don’t know about you, but I love basking in the warmth and glow of the sun. As much as I’m aware of the dangers of the sun, I love being in it and I do feel connected to nature when I can feel the sun’s rays on me.
Don’t forget all that lovely sun has a dark side too – so always wear sunscreen.
3. Travel Makes You More Open-Minded
Out of the many benefits of travel, this one really sets you up for the rest of your life. Narrow mindedness is one of the things I dislike the most, and I believe narrow mindedness breeds ignorance.
Travel really expands your mind and before you know it, you’ll become profoundly open-minded.
Being open to new cultures, accepting diversity in people you meet, understanding a countries’ customs and listening to everyone’s personal story – all culminate in you becoming more unbiased, nondiscriminatory, free-thinking and receptive, to the new world you’re exploring.
4. You’ll Develop Practical Skills
You’ll cultivate some handy practical skills from travelling too. When something breaks, you’ll have how to learn to fix it, when you lose something, you’ll learn to cope without it and find alternatives.
You’ll become all kinds of resourceful. (Spoiler: duck tape fixes anything).
Working at a Help Exchange or other volunteering placement could see you using skills you never thought you had.
I have worked in organic cafe kitchens, helped look after rescued hedgehogs and even ended up helping restore a movie set location at a conservation site. (Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant set location in New Zealand – for those wondering which movie).
It could be also something as simple as learning to sleep alone in an airport, carrying your belongings securely when around pickpocket locations, or fixing your shoe when it breaks.
You’ll find yourself in situations where you need to try something – anything – to find a savvy solution.
And from this, you’ll grow more confident in your own ability to troubleshoot. Soon you’ll be pulling solutions out, as fast as Hermione Granger pulled them out of her bottomless beaded handbag, in the Harry Potter movies.
5. You’ll Become More Resourceful
This one draws on the previously mentioned benefits of travel, that helps you develop practical skills, but this focuses more on your emotional and mental resourcefulness.
When you travel, no matter how well you plan or prepare for your trip, you will always end up dealing with unexpected situations, at some point.
Although they are stressful to get through, these situations you find yourself in – and get yourself out of – will result in growing your self-confidence, significantly.
You could miss your flight, ahead of a visa run you’ve already organised, you could be held hostage to your bank login by the ‘verification text to a mobile number you don’t have’ scenario, or your Airbnb or House Sitting job or other accommodation cancels on you – the night you arrive.
(Yes these have all happened to me).
When your plans suddenly change or take an unprecedented U-turn, you’ll learn to think on your feet to find a solution. And you’ll learn to interact and engage with the people in your travel world, whose help you may need and be so grateful for.
6. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
One of the more valuable benefits of travel is that it pushes you to get out of your comfort zone. Trying new things such a new activity or different, exotic food, will really push your boundaries – deep-fried crickets, anyone?
Since I have been travelling I have tried many things I never thought I would try, such as kayaking on the open ocean in New Zealand, bush camping in Australia, waitressing at a millionaires wedding, jumping in the really deep ocean to snorkel a reef, eating Thai food without knowing the ingredients.
You’ll notice when you start stepping out of your comfort zone, you will surprise yourself with your capabilities. Which will make you feel pretty awesome about yourself – in turn helping grow your self-esteem.
7. You’ll Learn to Be Adaptable and Flexible
On an average day in my current travel life, I could have; a new house-sit to move to, another house-sit to clean before I leave, all my things to pack, a long journey, new house and confused pets to get used to, a new supermarket to find, a blog post to write, a million emails to answer, a collab to finish, pins to design, any other freelance work to catch up on, and a new area or city to get used to.
All in the same day.
On top of all that, I could end up realising I left my favourite top in the last house sit or left my phone charger plugged in the wall, or my shampoo could leak over everything, or my bag breaks.
On a regular travel day, (i.e not house sitting or freelancing), my day could also look like this; an early start, packing whilst half asleep, nowhere to find coffee (WHAAAT!?), long bus or train journey or stressful airport check-in (or both), visa dramas at customs, realising you’ve left your phone charger plugged in a wall at your accommodation – again, getting lost whilst looking for your accommodation, new language or dialect to understand, new sim card that doesn’t connect, new food to confuse your senses (and your stomach) AND a brand new environment to take in!!
Well, I think we just hit OverWhelm Road in Crazytown.
So you see, another of the valuable benefits of travel, is that travel WILL make you flexible and adaptable to new environments and situations. It’s impossible to be allergic to change when you travel.
When your transport plans get delayed or cancelled, you’ll learn to accept and be adaptable.
When an appointment, a tour, or a person cancels something important, you’ll learn to understand, be flexible and rearrange.
When you do temp jobs or travel jobs and get thrown in the deep end, you’ll learn to be adaptable and you’ll cope.
From all my years of travel and living in different countries, I describe myself as unflappable and I’m definitely adaptable, in fact, I’m probably a full-blown Chameleon by now.
8. It’s Easier to Make Friends and Make Connections
Meeting new people and making friends is one of the more obvious and better-known benefits of travel.
If you stay in hostels or go on tours, you’ll inevitably meet new people and chat with them. In a travelling social circle such as backpacking, you’ll always have someone to talk to or make friends with.
Even in airports or on long plane or train journeys, you’ll end up chatting with your fellow passengers. You’re already on common ground being stuck in a vessel together for hours, so you may as well!
However, on the other side, if you aren’t mindful about your state of mind, you can end up feeling lonely when you travel. Be careful not to segregate yourself too much, especially if you’re a solo traveller, long term traveller or digital nomad.
For me, I find it much harder to make friends when I hermit in the house, if I’m freelancing and house sitting in a new place, for instance. It’s much harder to make connections when you move around a lot, but also aren’t backpacking or on a known travel trail.
I notice I’m always so much more confident and talkative with people when I’m actively travelling and I’m in the ‘travel social circle’ or the travel ‘state of mind’.
9. You Learn Not to Sweat the Small Stuff
Tightly wound? Stressed? Easily irritated?
After a few months worldwide travel, you’ll either have learned not to sweat the small stuff…or you’ll be even more stressed and even tighter wound.
My advice is to go with the first option. Read these words carefully and repeat them after me:
“Do not sweat the small stuff! ”
Because if you do, you’ll never get through the big stuff. And ‘sweating the small stuff’ takes away joy from your travel experience.
Spilt something on your dress at an event or activity, and you can’t change for hours?
So what? Honestly, no-one cares, everyone is more self-absorbed in their own lives, to care what you’re wearing anyway. Execute a DIY clean-up job with whatever you can find and get on with having fun.
Favourite top mauled by a wild monkey or sunnies stolen by…. well..also a monkey?
No worries – just log it on your travel insurance, and buy another and replace it. Your devastated self will make you believe you’ll miss that top/sunnies but I bet you once it’s gone, it won’t affect your life.
Frizzy hair and shiny, sweaty skin in ALL your SE Asia photos?
It’s ok, give yourself a break. Some countries have super harsh environments and climates and it takes its toll. You’ll eventually adapt and so what if you don’t, it’s an accomplishment just staying sweat-free in some countries.
Post/keep the photos anyway, you’ll look back and you’ll still love the way you look in them because you know what you had to endure to be there.
Missed your flight, subsequently making you miss a friend’s party/social event you really wanted to go to?
It’s aaall goood – don’t beat yourself up – you can always find other ways to get there. Re-book, or source another transport mode or just go anyway and be a bit (or a lot) late.
If it’s important enough for you to be there, you’ll find another way. If it isn’t, you’ll realise the missed flight really isn’t a big deal.
10. Developing Your Self Confidence and Personal Growth
Developing Self Confidence by becoming more resourceful, is one of the benefits of travel we’ve already touched on. However, Personal Growth is something that happens as a direct result, of realising you are more resourceful, adaptable and confident.
By living in or travelling in unfamiliar cities or countries, you will become tolerant and even accepting of your own discomfort. Therefore you’ll be more confident in your capacity to handle ambiguous or obscure situations.
Being nomadic equals uncertainty. It’s the complete opposite of living a conventional life, the kind where you can predict most things that will happen.
Exposing yourself to this uncertainty – although it seems scary – will result in developing solid confidence, emotional agility, empathy, and flourishing creativity.
11. Use Travel to Take a Break From Social Media
Social media has a firm place in travel and that probably won’t ever change. However, the way you interact with social media when you travel can be changed.
Sometimes it is hard for some people when they travel, to step away from posting everything they see, eat or experience on social media. I urge you to try though, as you’ll end up living in your phone’s photo gallery when you should be living in the moment.
Travelling can be such a whirlwind of the senses and can happen so fast, especially if you’re travelling on a rigid itinerary. You might miss something or not take something in, because you were trying to post Instagram stories.
So it’s important to put the phone down and be in the moment, of where you are. Connect with the world around you and immerse yourself in it – your whole self.
Disconnect from the IG world, take a digital detox. You can always take a picture or video afterwards.
Content Creators and Bloggers, I know this is a different story for us, however, try devoting certain days and times to shooting photos and video for content purposes. So when you travel somewhere new, you’re also giving yourself quality time, to connect to the place and create memories in your head first.
12. Travel Teaches You to Be Mindful and Present
This one has its roots in mindfulness and living, in the present moment. If mindfulness is a concept that is wildly unfamiliar to you, have a read of this blog, it’ll give you a modern, radically honest and helpful overview of mindfulness and what it is.
As mentioned in the previous point, travel can be a whirlwind of the senses, an overwhelming culture shock and it can all seem like it’s happening really fast. Your brain has a lot of new information to process and it’s important to make sure you don’t rush by too fast, on a loaded, strict travel itinerary.
Take time to quieten your mind, focus on the moment you’re living in now, so you can see, feel, smell and hear everything. And so you can create detailed memories, from truly living this experience. Forget what you’re doing later or getting to the next place, just ‘be’ wherever you are right now.
Another one of the benefits of travel is enhanced emotional agility, or the ability to not immediately react to your emotions when they happen. I call it ’emotional self-regulation’.
Instead, you mindfully observe or watch the emotions emerging, collect information so you can understand the potential causes, then with intention – you decide how to manage them.
This results in essentially having a bit of control, or managing how you react emotionally to a situation. AKA: how you react to your next travel-related meltdown.
13. Benefits of Travel – New Experiences = New Memories
When you travel, you’ll have an emotional response to an experience or a new person, and that helps you create new memories. For every new place you explore, you’ll always be making new memories to add to your travel memory bank.
And reminiscing on your happiest travel memories can preserve feelings of fulfilment, happiness and gratification, long after your travel journey is over.
I can still remember this moment when this curious but timid baby NZ Fur Seal, hopped right up close to me in Kaikoura, New Zealand. It was edging up to me so slowly, it took forever and I was convinced he was going to get spooked and hop away. But it was SO curious and it got so close to me in the end, it was AMAZING.
Notched up as one of my best travel moments EVER.
That memory is so poignant and etched so deeply in my memory bank, I still feel so much happiness when I look at this photo now.
14. You Will Become Less Materialistic
Another of the valuable benefits of travel is, you will become less materialistic by nature. I have become way less attached to belongings, or things. I’ve simply realised I don’t need materialistic things to be happy.
And I definitely don’t need the extra weight to carry.
When you have to fit your entire life into one bag or backpack, you quickly learn what is actually vital to your lifestyle. Even if you’re an over-packer, you’ll soon start throwing things out when you realise you packed it, but didn’t use it for X amount of months/years.
And you don’t miss ‘all of the things’. I mean, everyone is different, but I don’t miss stuff. I don’t miss furniture or drawers full of electronics, or having multiple outfit choices, or boxes full of ‘old things’ you don’t want to throw out.
You just learn to live without it and soon you realise, you don’t need this item to live your life. These items aren’t necessary, to fulfilling my happiness.
I value experiences, travel, the love of people and the freedom I have created in my life. I don’t value things.
It’s just ‘stuff’.
We are convinced by our society that we must buy a house and fill it with ‘stuff’. After all our world is fuelled by consumerism and advertising is manipulative. Making you feel you must always have the latest stuff and that somehow your value as a person, is defined by what you own.
Valuing experiences and creating a lifestyle that you love, is more valuable to you, than the incessant race to buying material things, that bring you only temporary, synthetic joy.
15. You Will Appreciate People in Your Life More
Travelling, being on the road, especially if it’s long term travel, will make you miss people back home.
You’ll miss your family and friends just being there, in the way they usually featured in your daily life. But you’ll also literally miss the important events in their lives such as; birthdays, weddings and big life changes.
Being away from things we often take for granted, makes us appreciate them even more.
Calling home can be something to look forward to, you can catch up on what they’ve been doing in their lives and they can be entertained by your latest travel antics and shenanigans.
16. Benefits of Travel – Long Term Effects
The long term benefits of travel, are you eventually become more educated, open-minded, freethinking, resourceful, contented, and ultimately happier and confident in your own abilities.
Aside from making you happier in the short-term, travelling can make you a much more contented, happy and subsequently healthy person in the long run.
Past travels leave us with memories, newly developed skills and a more worldly perspective, once we return home. And that’s why travel makes you a happier and healthier person.
Last science bit.
A Cornell University study noted that people are significantly happier while planning a trip, that they might not even take. The anticipation of taking a vacation contributes to their direct happiness more than when they acquire a physical possession. Hence, it’s only fair to conclude that the advantages of travelling take effect way before the trip does.
Most travel addicts are usually planning their next trip as soon as they return. But even if you can’t jet off anytime soon, travel planning can give you a boost of happiness, especially when you draw on your previous travel memories.
Happy and Safe Travels