Five Unexpected Benefits of Travel

14 Jan

Additional benefit: photos like this one.

In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, I really love to travel. Of course, there are lots of great reasons to travel, and plenty of life-changing benefits. You get first-hand experience with people and places you’d only read about before, you learn patience and flexibility, and you get a fresh perspective on your own life. Each time I’ve traveled abroad, I’ve expected to get all of that. But there have also been surprising and unexpected rewards. Here are five benefits of traveling that I wasn’t counting on:

  1. You get good stories. Hands down my best stories come from my travel experiences. They make great fodder for first dates, parties, job interviews, etc. I love listening to other people’s stories, and it’s nice to have a few of my own in my back pocket.
  2. You have a memory of yourself being brave that you can draw upon during stressful times. If I have to do something scary like give a presentation or drive a car (these are the things that are scary for me), it’s useful to remember that I’ve been completely lost in the Dominican Republic, I’ve been stranded in the Italian countryside, and I’ve jumped out of a plane. Whatever it is I’m facing, I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it.
  3. You have a source of great gifts for friends and family. I’ve written about how I am an inconsistent gift-giver. One trick for no-fail gifting is to bring back awesome souvenirs from your travels. Now I pretty much plan to buy gifts when I travel, and don’t worry about it otherwise. Sweet!
  4. The world really does feel like your oyster. I’ve found that the more I travel, the more I want to travel. I think the feeling I crave more than anything is freedom, and travel provides an endless supply of it.
  5. It feels like an accomplishment. I’ll admit that traveling is difficult for me. It’s often hard for me to eat well when I’m abroad (much of the world isn’t yet gluten-free-friendly). It’s hard for me to be out of my regular routine, to not speak the local language, and to not know where I’m going. It’s really hard for me to not have alone time. But all of these things are the reason why when I come home from a travel experience, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

What are your unexpected benefits from traveling?

p.s. My current top five destinations are:

  1. Antarctica
  2. India
  3. Finland
  4. New Zealand
  5. Vietnam

8 Responses to “Five Unexpected Benefits of Travel”

  1. maddie January 15, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    Cool picture 🙂

  2. Sarah January 15, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    a renewed sense of connection to others and the planet. since we share a home, it’s helpful to remember all the reasons for protecting it which includes those amazing far away places and the people that live there.

  3. Kristin January 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    A sense of perspective. I *have* been colder and more tired, hungrier and lonelier, always while traveling. It’s hard! And wonderful. I didn’t complain then because it came with the most amazing things. What’s the point of complaining now?

  4. Janelle January 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Oooh, good topic! As a military brat the most unexpected benefit was an impossible sense of possibility, or being able to imagine my reality. Traveling as a young child broadened my perspective and opened me up to experiences that forever changed my makeup. I always wanted to know the unknown, to see the unseen, to exist beyond the binary. As an adult (and self-branded explorer), I’ve found that the benefits of my childhood travels have spilled over into other areas of my life. Or, as my partner says, I’m never satisfied, I always want to push further. 🙂

  5. Hannah Kane January 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Thanks Kristin and Janelle for the great additions!

  6. scotlandholidaycottages January 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    People travel because of the enhanced modes of transportation and plummeting price of tickets when compared to yesteryear. You are right, travelling to a foreign destination is the best gift you can ever give to your loved ones.


  1. I hate school (but I love learning) « Everybody’s Invited! - January 21, 2012

    […] I don’t love learning in a traditional classroom environment because it feels like an arbitrary rule about the way we’re supposed to learn. This makes me feel un-free, and freedom is the feeling I want the most, as I mentioned in a recent post about travel. […]

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