Honestly, I lead a charmed life. I travel very frequently and am familiar with cities, towns, and villages all around the globe. The nature of my job enables me to pack up and leave whenever I want to—and even when I don’t want to, travel assignments have me on the road multiple times a year.
On the other hand, my partner is bound to a corporate desk job and does not have the opportunity to travel for pleasure as much as I do. Sure, unlike me, he garners consistent income…but I would pick my broke, yet free-spirited way of life over his anytime.
Travel, travel, travel
The thing is, a majority of people around the world are exactly like him. As much as they want to up and leave, they are bound to reality by the chains of convention. What you need to realize is that you can make a trip *or trips* happen if you really want to, which is exactly what my partner discovered.
Sure, it may take a little sacrifice on your part, such as overtime, heading to the office on Saturdays, and other horrid examples. If you really want to make it happen, though, you can. As fitness guru Jillian Michaels said, “Once you figure out the way, you can tolerate any how.”
He now makes time for traveling thrice per year and is happier, healthier, and much more positive because of it. Whether you end up traveling solo, with your partner, or with a group of friends or family members, here are 15 reasons why it is a good idea to travel at least once a year:
#1 Travel opens your mind. Traveling abroad will open your heart and mind to new experiences. There is just something about being someplace different that will make you forget everything you know. You will finally be able to free up space in your mind to embrace new things. [Read: 12 inspiring travel destinations that are perfect for soul searching]
#2 You can add to your “cool things I’ve done” list. Traversed the length of the Karun River in Iran? Met the Dukha reindeer herders while you were walking across the Mongolian plains? Learned to make the best tom yum goong while you were in Koh Tao? Even if you barricaded yourself in your hotel room in Barcelona, you are bound to experience something different and cool while abroad.
#3 You will meet new people—and new kinds of people. The best part about traveling is meeting a place’s interesting characters. You never know who is going to walk into your life and change everything you thought you knew about yourself. When I was in Armenia, I met a colorful array of Syrian refugees, long-term travelers, writers, documentary filmmakers, and passionate entrepreneurs who taught me things that I never thought I would learn.
#4 You will learn to embrace new cultures. Did you know that the Maori people greet each other by pressing their noses and foreheads together? They believe that sharing the same breath bridges the divide between both souls. Called the “hongi,” it is a beautiful part of their culture and one that you would never experience if you never traveled to New Zealand. That’s just one example of how varied and special cultures across the globe are.
#5 You will be forced to try new food. The thing about traveling is that you get the rare chance to taste new food in an authentic setting. Going to a Thai restaurant in Birmingham isn’t the same as feasting on street food in Bangkok. Give it a go and let me know if the foie gras straight from the farm in Bourgoin-Jallieu tastes anything like the one at the so-called French restaurant down the road whose specialty is pizza.
#6 You have the time. Out of 365 days a year, there is no reason why you do not have the time to do something different. It is pathetic that we dedicate the majority of our days to work, and we only give ourselves morsels of time to do the things we really want to do. Despite what you may think, if you are determined to make it happen, the logistics will fall into place. All I can say is, do it while you still can. [Read: 9 reasons why traveling is a great test of compatibility in a relationship]
#7 You just need a break. The expression “work yourself to death” has never been more true than here and now, in the last few years. The competitive work environment has many of us working overtime for a measly paycheck. Just as kids need summer break to rest their minds and bodies, you need time off from work, too.
#8 Escape from reality. You may not be able to fulfill your dream of packing up, leaving your home, and being a full-time traveler, but taking a break once a year to go on an adventure allows you to live a part of that dream. Build a new reality for yourself on the road, even if it is only temporary.
#9 It’s totally possible. Another good reason for traveling at least once a year is that it is totally doable. With the rise of budget airlines and cheap promotional fares, there is no reason why you can’t buy yourself a ticket in advance and make the trip happen. Not only that, flexible accommodation options such as CouchSurfing make it possible for you to stay somewhere and meet locals on a shoestring budget—if not for free. [Read: 8 tips to travel together as a couple and have a really great time]
#10 Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Leaving home and the people you know for new horizons will give you the chance to miss the everyday things that you take for granted. The comfort of your car, being able to speak your mother tongue, walking to your best friend’s loft, and all the other things that you are used to will seem more appealing when you’re away. Who knows? You may even miss the comfortable routine of your job.
#11 Push your limits. Traveling someplace new will push your limits and test your skills in social situations. From trying not to get scammed in Malaysia, to figuring out which train you need to board in Russia, you will be surprised at how far and hard your limits will be pushed. Trust me when I say that nothing beats the satisfaction of accomplishing something you never thought you could do. [Read: 12 top alternative destinations for a perfect romantic break]
#12 Learn who you are. I won’t go so far as to say that you will discover who you are on the road, but you will certainly discover a piece of yourself that you thought you had lost. Travel tends to bring out your true colors, so whether you discover or welcome back a part of yourself, you will thoroughly enjoy the process.
#13 Travel gives meaning to your life. Heading somewhere new once a year will give meaning to your routine. It will offer some kind of purpose and focus to everyday life. The rat race becomes so much more bearable once you know what you are working and saving up for. [Read: 7 life lessons you’ll learn on an awesome road trip]
#14 Traveling teaches you new skills. You will be surprised by the myriad of new skills you will pick up when you’re abroad. From the art of miming, to communicating with food vendors in Cambodia, to juggling your budget in another currency, you will quickly learn how to live a life far different from your usual routine.
#15 You will make everyone envious. Who wouldn’t be jealous of your #nofilter Instagram pictures of the Andaman Sea in Phuket, FourSquare check-ins at the Pantheon in Rome, blog posts describing your visit to Virunga National Park in Congo, and tales of meeting the Penan tribe in Sarawak?