I don’t know a single person who doesn’t want to travel. I think its within the human psyche to want to go to places we’ve never been. We are explorers by nature. We are curious to see the unknown.
Traveling is important in whatever form it takes. A road trip to the next state over can be just as valuable as a flight to a foreign country. To be more accurate however, it’s more so the mindset of the traveler than it is actually traveling.
At the same time though, traveling in general has the ability to shift one’s worldview, which brings me to my first point.
Traveling is perspective
It’s safe to assume that anyone who has stayed in one location their entire lives has a limited worldview. Being surrounded by the same places, people, ideas, culture and overall environment creates a redundant feedback loop. There’s no way to learn about yourself, other people and the world at large if you’re restricted to one location.
Yes, there’s the internet. But reading about the world is one thing and experiencing it is another. There’s something about interacting with new people who have different opinions and upbringings that can’t be replicated by reading articles or watching documentaries. Experiencing a new environment by engaging with your surroundings is the best way to learn and therefore gain a new perspective.
Like I implied before, “A new environment” doesn’t have to be a far-off country. It can simply be a city in your state that you’ve never visited. What matters is that your open to new ideas, a new way of looking at the world.
Traveling breaks down preconceived notions about the world
In his book The Innocents Abroad Mark Twain writes “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.”
The narrow- mindedness Twain writes about is seen all across the world. We all have ideas in our minds about how the world is. You and I alike have been conditioned to think certain things about certain cultures. How many times have you heard someone speak poorly about a country they’ve never visited? How many times have you heard someone make an assumption based off of what they heard in the media?
Traveling breaks down all the nonsense we’ve been led to believe allowing us the opportunity to form a more connected and honest opinion of the world. Without preconceived notions affecting our outlook, the more open we will be to our experiences.
Gratitude and Appreciation
One of the most important things travel teaches is how to be more appreciative. I think this is partly because when we are seeing a place for the first time the details stand out instead of the broad view. For example, when I first visited the Azores I was intrigued by all the things I overlooked back home. Simple things like the design of buildings and homes, the language and how people communicated with one another, the festivities including music and food.
Appreciation and gratitude is also taught afterwards when you return from your travels. Anyone who’s traveled for an extended period of time knows that after awhile you start to miss home. The familiarity and comfort home provides can often be taken for granted, so after being away from it for some time you get to rekindle your appreciation for all your belongings.