Sure. Someone – like me – told you you should really go travel! Because it will be the experience of a lifetime. Because, that someone tells you: ‘When you die, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do. Not the things you did.’ And íf you go, you should go to this place, or there. Because the people are so friendly, the food is amazing, the views are incredible. Or your friend’s picture caught your eye and you gotta admit: it could’ve been straight out of a magazine. Of course you want to go there!
But, you know, you have your responsibilities here too. Your boss might not be happy with you asking for a few weeks (or months, or years) of drinking cocktails under a palm tree. You might have a not so willing to travel partner. Or maybe you just bought a house, you have to finish your studies, you’re just too busy. Maybe you’re a little (or a lot) scared. Of the unknown, of leaving things behind, of your financial situation, of getting lost, of flying, of spiders, of …. you name it. There are many reasons to stay in safe and not to go travel. Luckily, there are way more reasons to do so. To pack your bags – or suitcase – and venture off into the great unknown!
Now, I know there’s a time and place for everything. And I’m not telling you you should’ve left yesterday. But I AM telling you you should highly consider taking a trip if you didn’t already decide to do that. Why? That’s one of my favorite questions. Because for me it’s not a difficult one to answer! While there must be a 1000 reasons to finally depart on that adventure you’ve always dreamed of, for now I’ll try to inspire you with some major ones.
When I asked people why they travel, the most common answer I got was ‘experiences’. That feeling of being free. Of continuous anticipation of the things we are expecting to find. The excitement of finding things we didn’t expect to find. Strolling through new cities, getting lost and finding our way back again. Doing the countless things you never even considered doing before; like sleeping in a room with 19 others, diving with sharks, canyoning, hiking glaciers and 5800m high mountains, cliff jumping, camping on volcano rims, taking a 50-hour bus ride just for a few days of snowboarding.
You’ll see things you never saw, smell things you never smelled, hear things you never heard and feel things you never felt. My absolute favorite feeling is simply the feeling of being on a bus to a new destination, listening to music, the sun warming my face.. I would always be trying to imagine what the new place would be like and I would never be able to.
Wonder, adventure and amazingness awaits us!
My travels taught me more than my entire time in university. I know it sounds like a cliche, but cliches are cliches for a good reason: they are true. In school they don’t usually teach us how to be brave, independent and courageous. We learn how to read and write and we learn about math, geography, history, art.. Which, I admit, is not unimportant. But even those lessons about geography, history and art become much easier and more fun when experienced first-hand, outside of the classroom.
When traveling to other destinations, you will learn how to be flexible and patient (since buses won’t have the punctual schedules we’re used to, people live life in a slower and more relaxed way and due to funny language barriers you might end up ordering a tasty cucumber juice instead of that much wanted lime margarita – ‘Hoe lang is een Chinees’, for the Dutch among us ;)). Becoming more flexible is not a choice, it’s a necessity and therefore will happen.
Your communication skills will improve because you’ll meet tons of new people. You will find out more about who you are, because as soon as you leave your familiar environment, routine, habits, relations and possessions behind, you will be alone. (Most of the time) not in a lonely way, but in a way where you’ll find out that you’re capable of much more than you thought you were. You’re gonna have to make choices by yourself and with that your self-confidence will grow. You’re gonna have to overcome your fears and learn to have faith in that things will always work out. You’ll find your boundaries and learn how to protect them; and you’ll get the opportunity to learn plenty of new skills and languages.
The ultimate realization I had, was when I just arrived in Shanghai. I’d been stuck in a hostel in Datong for a week (a Chinese city with not much going on), because I had no money for an expensive train ticket during the Chinese holidays. The owner let me stay there for free in exchange for some cleaning, which I’m still grateful for. Then, after two consecutive nights in a night train (I had no money for hostels so I decided to sit in a hard seat for 16 hours – NOT one of my recommendations) I arrived in Shanghai. Just me, my 35L backpack with ragged clothes and my very empty bank account. Walking the streets searching for my hostel, it was there: the feeling of complete and utter freedom. My only thoughts were: There’s nothing to fear. Nothing people can take away from me. There’s nothing more I need.
In the days after, I met the most amazing people who offered me places to sleep and took me out for dinner. I found a great job and as soon as I got my first salary I repaid them in more cozy dinners together. Oh, how great life is!
Traveling is the ultimate way to meet some of the amazing and kind people on this earth, make long-lasting friendships and maybe even find love. Some of the best times of my life I shared with my friends I met along the way. I met many others with different and very interesting views on life. Their stories or comments were sometimes so inspirational or eye opening. Also, the fact that no one knows you where you go, gives you the chance to break out of your habitual behavior and to try out some new mindsets. As it’s easy to feel happy when traveling, it’s also easy to meet upbeat people. Good attracts good.
Story from Morocco:
During my time in Morocco I met a very sweet and inspiring guy who always has a smile on his face. When pulled over for speeding, he kept smiling. When the police lady handed him his ticket, still smiling and joking! I noticed something interesting. The lady had been shouting when she pulled over our car, she was frowning and looked like she mentally prepared herself for yet another argument. However, after a few minutes of smiles from my new friend, she started to lighten up. He sweetly kept joking with her, paid his ticket, and by the time we drove off, her frown had turned into a smile. Wow, what a way to make someone else’s day! When I asked him about it, he told me: ‘Why be angry and sulky when it won’t help anyone? Especially yourself.’ He explained that to help others is 1 of the 5 pillars of the Islam and since he’s a vigorous practitioner, he feels like it’s his duty to make other people’s day a little better if he can. Such a beautiful view on this religion.
Wonders of the world
For me this is certainly one of the main reasons I travel. Multiple times I felt like I had reached the end of the world. Standing on a mountain top, being able to see as far as the horizon, overflooded me with awe. I just now learned about the word ‘awe’, but it’s definition: “Reverential respect mixed with wonder” tells me this is indeed the word I was looking for. I know that traveling through jungles, forests, seas and caves; and over mountains, volcanoes, beaches and salt lakes; every now and then took my breath away. I came to realize that there is so much beauty out there, and that it would be such a waste to never see and experience it. And not to mention the unimaginable amount of animal species and man made wonders there are still left for us to discover. There must be a million more paradises on this planet. Can’t wait to go and see!
With travel comes great food, mostly delicious. Sometimes not so yummie, but then at least different and adventurous. Churros in Spain, Rfissa in Morocco, Croissants in France, Risotto in Venice, Sashimi in Japan, Dumplings in China, Tom Kha Kai on a beautiful Thai beach,… No restaurant in the world beats the real deal! Whether you’re a foodie or not, any journey will tickle your taste buds.
Besides, when traveling to many places in Asia or South America, eating out is generally the standard for travelers. For the obvious reasons of it being cheaper (for the €20 you’ll pay for a standard restaurant meal in The Netherlands, you’ll be eating delicious dinners for a whole week in many other countries) and easier (read: no grocery shopping, cooking and doing dishes!).
Also, even foodwise you get to be as venturesome as you wish. Did you already try snake, crocodile, frog, grasshoppers, lamb brains, fish eye, octopus and rotten egg? Or Google ‘most disgusting foods’ if you’re feeling very adventurous. I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking.
Want more reasons to travel? You’ll find another 101 more here 😉