Every time I travel, I learn something new. I'd argue that's one of the greatest reasons to travel. I’ve had a lot of great experiences traveling... making new friends, eating good (and not so good) food, and seeing some pretty amazing places. But the truth is, there’s more to it than that. In fact, there’s a lot more to it than that. By traveling, you learn things that you’ll never forget. Things that will help shape your outlook on the world, and things that will inspire you for the rest of your life. Traveling has taught me a number of things that will stick with me forever.
There are a lot of good people in the world.
As kids, we're taught not to talk to strangers. Take that lesson and throw it out the window. Despite the typical set of news headlines we see on a given day, there are a lot of great people in this world. People who want to get to know you, help you, and share new experiences with you. I've written about traveling alone before, something I'm a big fan of. Part of the reason I like traveling alone is that it forces me to meet other people. Traveling has taught me that strangers are just friends I haven't met yet. Take initiative and put yourself out there... you'll be surprised where a simple "hello" can lead you.
New experiences are better than new toys.
Experiences don’t last forever. The memories you take away from them do. A new phone, a new car… yea they’re nice and exciting, but after that dies off they're just more items you’ve collected that will eventually be replaced, sold, lost, or otherwise rendered useless. I’m not saying you shouldn't buy new phones or new cars. I’m suggesting that experiences most often trump possessions. Take the money you saved for that new flatscreen TV and put it towards a trip somewhere you've never been.
Getting lost is a lot of fun.
Getting lost is fun. Seriously. So you took a wrong turn, misunderstood some directions, or found yourself in an unfamiliar area. So what! Go with the flow, embrace the situation, and make the best of it. Getting lost helps hone your problem solving skills and can often lead to a better outcome than what you had originally planned. Unexpected adventures lead to unforgettable memories.
Taking risks helps overcome fear.
There's a lot of risk in traveling, no doubt about that. But as one traveler once told me... "No risk, no fun." That's stuck with me for several years. Taking risks is a good thing. I'm not saying you should go climb Mount Everest on your first attempt of hiking. Be smart, but don't be afraid of every possible negative outcome. Great things involve great risk. And when you fail, you learn.
You can do a lot in a little amount of time.
I have a full-time job. But because I use my time wisely, I'm able to travel and stay adventurous in ways many people don't see possible. You have 24 hours in a day; each one is yours to be used however you choose. For example, you want to go to California but only have Friday, Saturday and Sunday available. Spend Friday to Sunday in California. Remember, a great part about traveling is the act of traveling itself... that is the "journey", not the "destination". Take advantage of the time you have and enjoy the journey.
You don't need a lot of money to travel.
Traveling doesn't have to involve expensive hotels, cab rides, and fancy meals. I'm a pretty frugal person, but I love to travel. Instead of getting a hotel, I opt for more budget-friendly options like hostels, guest houses, AirBnB, and Couchsurfing.org. Instead of taking cabs, I take public transportation, or walk. Cab rides can add up - plus, how can you enjoy getting lost if you're relying on a cab driver!? Hop on the train and figure it out. Eating out is the biggest challenge here... I love food just as much as the other guy, but you can keep costs down by cooking meals (many hostels have full kitchens) and finding cheap local food.
Each adventure brings new lessons, discoveries, knowledge, and outlooks. Eventually, I'll have enough to write another entire article on this topic, hence the reason I included "(so far)" in the title. I'd love to hear other's thoughts on this... what has traveling taught you (so far)?