There is a universal truth known around the world that every person sitting day in and day out at an office desk for 8 hours a day thinks repeatedly that they really wish they could travel more. This isn’t a symptom of dissatisfaction in people’s current employment, most are generally happy with their jobs. Rather, this is a symptom of “I want to be in the sun, far away, and experience something different!” After catching myself thinking this very thought I began to wonder, what is it about traveling that makes it so magical? I mean, if you think about it, there are a lot of things that aren’t so wonderful about traveling. Some of these, for instance, include long lines at the airport, the entire packing process, the stress of not understanding the language, the constant checking and rechecking that you did not lose your passport, the difficult task of exchanging money without losing all of it because of conversion fees, the difference in power outlets and never feeling secure despite buying the super duper, extra reliable surge protector, all to name a few.
Yet all of this is worth it in the end because traveling trumps the stresses. Why you may ask? Well here are ten reasons:
1) Pre Traveling Excitement– The benefits of traveling always begin prior to the actual day of traveling. In fact, the benefits begin from the moment the idea of the trip is created. This trip that you have decided to go on provides multiple breaks from reality as you daydream about what the experience will be like. On top of the weeks/months of mental imagery you gain, there is also the wonderful week before hand. Suddenly, you are capable of completing double the number of tasks on your to-do list. Staying an hour or two later after work is no big deal because you know that in one week you will be the proud owner of blissful work-free time. You take all the difficult calls that you have avoided because you can put in the polite “and if you have any questions please contact anyone other than me as I will be busy tanning/exploring/doing anything other than being concerned about your problem.”
2) Updating Your Wardrobe– You know all of those key pieces for your wardrobe that you have been putting off buying since you didn’t have the justification to do so? Oh yeah…you just got the perfect excuse. For some reason, where you once could have made do without that new black cardigan, it is now unthinkable to do without it. I mean, lets face it, when you are in Europe taking pictures in front of the famous landmark it will not do to go with a worn out sweater.
3) Airports Are Awesome- Every airport has its own personality. Some are bossy and demanding, while others, they are stuck in the 60s and their retro décor wont let you forget it. All airports however share the common link of fever in the air. You can feel it as you walk through the terminal. There is a sense of anticipation. Students anxiously wait to get home to mom and the home cooked meals they never thought they would miss, but suddenly can’t believe they lived for a whole semester without. You have families reuniting, and people going off on grand adventures. You see relationships being tested, bonds of boredom and anxiety being formed. Basically, you have people with heightened emotions colliding with each other and creating the most spectacular people watching one can find.
4) Forebodingly Delicious Feeling of Foreign Places- You’ve made it onto foreign territory. The pavement seems a little bit different. The noises that surround you are not the same as the ones in your neighborhood. The scents coming from the bakery are promising delicious new flavors you haven’t experienced. The sun seems to hit your skin a little different. And finally, the people all seem cultured and so incredibly smart. This fantastic feeling of strangeness fills your body with content because that constant itch you’ve had for the past year has been fulfilled. You finally got away from what’s comfortable and expected and it feels so good.
5) Food– Let’s go back to that bakery scent that you just smelled. Yeah. Let it take over your nostrils. You know why it smells so good? A. Its fresh B. It’s probably ridiculously bad for you C. You are so going to eat it. That’s right. You are on vacation which means diet time is over. You’ve worked hard eating your chicken salad and oatmeal. You’ve said no to dessert for the past month (or at least tried to), and now, you get to eat. You get to eat EVERYTHING. When in a foreign country it is your right, NAY YOUR DUTY, to eat absolutely everything. Eat small portions, eat large portions, eat until your stomach can take no more. You get to eat! And, you know what the great kicker is? You generally don’t put on too much weight. Since you are walking everywhere and spending the majority of your day running from one landmark to the next so as to not miss anything, you are probably working off all that gelato you downed. You are even building endurance as your legs are probably used to sitting for 8 hours on a regular day, and suddenly they are romping around from one tasty morsel to the next.
6) People- If nothing else, the people you meet on trips are probably the most exciting part of the experience. Without a doubt, you will strike up a random conversation with someone on the plane. Maybe it will be another hotel guest. Perhaps it will be a local vendor. Whoever it is, they will be fantastically interesting. All around you there will be people speaking in a language you may only vaguely understand and you will find it delicious. On the one hand, you can use your imagination and fill in what you think people are talking about. On the other hand, you will feel that sweet sense of relief when you finally run into someone who speaks your language, instantly forming a bond. Most of the people you meet you will never see or hear from again, and that is perfectly fine. You may even forget what they looked like over the years. Then, when you look back on your trip, you will just recall vaguely bumping into someone that did something and you’ll still smile, because frankly, the details aren’t important. What is important is that they left an imprint on you. They remind you that people can be intriguing and exciting. Rather than looking at everyone as someone who wants something from you, you begin to remember that there is good in the world of humans. And this feeling, this is THE reason to travel.
7) Language- There is nothing more uncomfortable than being completely lost, having no ability to read the signs, and having anxiety about asking someone because you are more than 100% sure they wont speak English. This language barrier is one of the toughest things to deal with while traveling. You might be asking yourself, well then, why include it in the “reasons to travel” list rather than the “reasons not to travel” list. Here is why. This scary feeling pushes you to communicate with more than just your speech. It heightens your awareness of the world and people around you. It knocks you down a peg or two and reminds you of your own shortcomings. This reminder makes you incredibly grateful and brave. You learn that you can survive even if you don’t have all the comforts of home. Somehow you muddle your way to the right train station, you figure out how to find that landmark by using your sense of direction. You are capable beyond what you thought you were and that is beautiful.
8) Technology Break- Going on vacation always gives you a break from your technology. While you can’t go without checking your phone every ten minutes back home (and probably for the first day away as well) you eventually stop looking. Aside from serving as a check in device at the end of the day, the fact that you have trouble connecting to wifi ultimately turns into an acceptance that you won’t be using your technology. This is a good break that you know you should incorporate even back home.
9) Presents- The thrill of the hunt for affordable, interesting, and small enough to pack in your overly packed suitcase, is wonderful. You begin to realize that you know too much, or too little about people at home. You are unsure exactly how much in dollars that origami dragon plate thingy cost, but you are positive that you can figure out a way to wrap it in enough clothes that it wont break while being thrown through multiple airports. Even better is the moment you unwrap it and give it to someone. As lame as it is, which it always seems less cool than the moment you bought it, it remains awesome to the person receiving because this thing, it has been in a far off land, and that is so incredibly cool.
10) Coming home- Lastly, the return home. That moment when you feel like you’ve been on break just long enough. That feeling where you know the hotel bed is comfortable but it just isn’t the same as your own bed. That return to the land of same language speakers, and smells you are used to, and sights you are comfortable with, and people you know. All of that is the reason to travel. You are suddenly incredibly thankful for home and you feel unstoppable. If you can make it in a foreign land then you can tackle anything here, in the space you are most comfortable in. On top of everything, you have more energy having relaxed for so long. You feel wonderful and happy to be home.