Traveling Helps You Grow

You’ve heard that not all lessons take place inside the classroom. Learning and wisdom are journeys you can pursue throughout your life, and they certainly don’t need to come in the form of more degrees or certificates. However, there’s a big difference between non-traditional growth and actively seeking out change.

Travel is one of the best ways you can grow as a person. Before you set us on your wanderlust journey, make sure to take care of some housekeeping.

Stay frugal and get creative to save, being organized can make a big difference in how much you enjoy your travels, and some basics to stay safe (such as keeping important documents in cloud storage) are all foundational for those on the fast track to becoming seasoned travelers.

We know that travel helps us grow in every regard, but why does this happen? Here are a few reasons travel might be the best teacher you’ve ever met:

  1. Discomfort forces problem-solving skills. You can be uncomfortable in any type of new surrounding, such as going to a new yoga studio. However, the more discomfort you experience the more challenged you’ll be, which will give you a chance to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Seeking out travel where you don’t know the language or culture will certainly put you in discomfort at first. Just make sure you stay safe, too.
  2. Every person we meet is a learning experience. Think about every person that comes into your life as a potential teacher. They are also potential students, so practice empathy and compassion. However, in our daily lives, we often see and interact with the same people—down to the barista that works the same shift that overlaps with your commute. Travel gives us the opportunity to meet new people, and in turn new teachers. Teachers, whether formal or informal, are necessary tools for growth and learning.
  3. We’re exposed to our own biases and creature comforts. An American who has never traveled abroad before has likely never experienced the “joy” of happening upon a Turkish toilet in a highly-used train station. It’s almost certain that very few people have ever met and interacted with a person of every faith, culture, or ethnicity. Traveling is often uncomfortable because we’re so transparently faced with our own biases and with what we take for granted. This forces growth, though it often comes with a bit of a shock, too.
  4. New environments make us think differently. You’ve likely discovered that a walk in the woods gets your creative juices flowing. The great outdoors, as well as new environments, overwhelm your senses. It can free up aspects of your mind that are otherwise stagnant. This is why so many artists seek out inspiration in foreign lands and through travel. However, you don’t need to be an artist to benefit from the mind expansion that travels offers. Challenge yourself to travel at least partially tech-free (if it’s safe to do so) and really immerse yourself in your chosen destination.
  5. We have more opportunities to seek out arts and culture. Most people don’t take full advantage of the arts and culture opportunities where they live. When is the last time you visited all of the museums in your city or went to a new art event? However, travel inspires us to see everything a new place has to offer. It’s fun to play tourist, while at the same time exposing ourselves to opportunities to learn and grow. Everyone goes to The Louvre while in Paris, and for many, it’s their first time in a museum in years.
  6. We have to face ourselves or our travel companions. Whether you’re traveling alone or with someone, suddenly you don’t have the same comforts and distractions that you do at home. You might have to spend a long time being comfortable with yourself, such as on a long train ride with no Wi-Fi signal. You might be sleeping in close quarters with a loved one and spending several consecutive hours together. This can drum up feelings of loneliness and frustration, but these are both pillars of growth, too. When traveling with someone, know that it’s very common and normal to have disagreements. It might be a good idea to agree to a certain amount of alone time each day in order to process your travels as an individual. Some breathing room can make a big difference.
  7. Sensory overload encourages us to adapt. Even if you’ve signed up for a relaxing vacation where all you’re doing is beach bumming and sleeping in, you’re still in a different place. Your senses will be overloaded because of the new sights, smells, tastes, and sounds. Your body is designed to respond and adapt to such changes. This might come with some unexpected side effects (even something as simple as heartburn from seemingly mild foods). However, overloading our senses in safe environments is a great way to foster growth within ourselves.

Many people consider leisure travel just that—leisurely. However, travel can be stressful. Sometimes even getting through the entire airport kerfuffle can cause anxiety. Know your best tools for stress management, and if you’re unsure then it’s time to do some trial and error.

Everyone travels differently and needs various types of support. Knowing your high-stress triggers can help you either avoid them or modify them.

Don’t avoid travel just because it seems stressful or costly (there are many frugal ways to satisfy your wanderlust). After all, with so much growth potential at the ready, you don’t want to miss out on life’s best learning opportunities.