The Benefits of Travel at Any Age
When I think of passion – I see it betake many forms. For some, it’s within their career, others perhaps it’s a love. There are many whom may look to travel as their passion; this is a group that I myself belong to, and because of which, I consider myself very lucky. Luckier still, to say that travel isn’t my only passion – indeed, it breaches the barriers of this single category and moves to infiltrate others: love, career, exploration, inquisitiveness. I find the world fascinating – and I like to think that this shows through my words, through my images and in my daily conversations.
Perhaps this love for travel was something that I was destined to inherit. After all, I did take my first plane ride at three months old – though apparently, I slept the entire way through. Not all too exciting for my first chance to grab the all-too-coveted window seat, but hey, we live and learn…right?
The younger Gretchen used to call the people flying the plane “violets”, crossed my fingers for the “GREAT bumpy landing”, clapped when the flight was done and would say, “well that was fun!” the second we came to a stop. I was the kid that would sit with my face plastered to the window looking at the clouds and the sun above them. I remember being absolutely amazed that I could experience this feeling, these sights – though, I’m sure the word I would have used then was “WOW!”. Creative, I know.
Things have changed slightly as I’ve gotten older. I no longer call them violets, but I still thank those flying the plane after every flight. Perhaps not with a standing ovation, but still, I think that a ‘thank-you’ and a smile can go a long way. These days, I tend to prefer an aisle seat – but the one thing that has not, and likely will never, change is the feeling of wonder every time I’m above the cloud line. I recognize that I’m very lucky to be able to travel as frequently as I do, and I’m very grateful to be able to do so. Personally, I think being able to travel far and travel frequently has shaped my mindset in a way that is quite unique – and I think those that enjoy travel like I do may be able to relate.
IT’S NOT JUST A PLANE RIDE
I’ve come to realize that for me, travel isn’t just about ticking places off of your bucket list. It isn’t about filling your passport pages with every stamp possible, nor about racking up your loyalty program miles. It’s so much more than that. So much more than a list to be crossed off, so much more than a plane ride, so much more than the souvenirs you may bring back for your friends.
Travel is a way of expanding your mind; broadening your mindset, learning new languages, meeting people from everywhere and anywhere, finding out the world is a much gentler place than it’s made out to be. Of course, travel may come with good and bad experiences, as does life itself, but that ‘what if’ shouldn’t be what holds you back.
In fact, what it should do, is spur you forward.
When I think about my life – though I’m only just nearing my 23rd birthday – I can’t even begin to think about how different it would be if travel were not a part of it. For example, some of my most precious friendships have come from the ability to move freely about the country, the world – as has one of the greatest joys in my life. My light, a constant source of inspiration and passion wrapped into one. Some of the people that I’ve met have changed my life in the most incredible way. Without them, I’m not sure where I might be, or who I might be. Without travel, would I be content? Would I be the same person?
I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t be.
As Saint Augustine famously said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
THE BENEFITS OF TRAVEL ARE MANY
When I describe my perfect day, I usually find myself daydreaming of Paris. Café hopping and people watching, with my love by my side and a cappuccino in my hand. However, the benefits of travel extend much further than adding to your list of favourite cafés worldwide – I am though, keeping a list. And yes, it is quite a good one, especially if you’re a cappuccino and pastry lover like me.
But, I digress.
The more places I’ve been – I’ve noticed that my perception of the world has changed. Like I’ve said before, it’s not as scary as it’s made out to be. Not even close.
As you meet people from across the globe, you’ll find that you encounter many more perspectives through many different lenses than you may have if you were to only stay in one place. You become more empathetic and understanding of other cultures and people that are different to you and your upbringing. Perhaps you may also appreciate your home, your roots, even more than you already do.
With travel, you will develop a new skill set – whether it’s resourcefulness, the ability to self-reflect, or perhaps even the ability to learn a new, or multiple new languages. Each of these aids in expanding your mind, your brain’s capacities and your ability to react in various situations. All of these leading to more opportunities for personal growth.
It’s quite interesting, I think, just how vast the benefits of travel are. And most of them are unknown to you until you return home.
Because you aren’t the same person you were when you left. You have new experiences, new memories, new perspectives and hopefully a new recipe or two to add to your weekly meals. You’ll make new friends, perhaps you’ll meet the love of your life and you’ll definitely fall in love with more than one place around the globe. You may even find your home away from home.
My point is – travel can help you find a better version of yourself. It it so precious to our way of thinking and acting. It allows us to identify and empathize with people we never would have met otherwise. Our world is becoming increasingly a global environment, and in truth, we are luckier than ever because of it.
It’s not just a plane ride. It never was. It’s not just trying new cuisine or booking hotels. It’s so much more than that. Hopefully, you’ll agree with me.
And as I am one who loves quoting great authors and thought leaders in articles such as these, I’ll leave you with this:
“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.” – Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad
Until next, xoxo.
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