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12 Ways Traveling Makes You a Better Person

Looking to get ahead in life? Maybe a road trip can help.
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I got started in the working world much earlier than most of my peers. When I was 12 or 13, my dad started his own company, and I was in charge of running the office – and, occasionally, for riding in the passenger seat and reading the maps.

It was drilled into me when I was pretty young that working was far superior to not working, and working for little-to-nothing was at least working, and to be celebrated. The idea of quitting my job just because I wanted to was completely asinine.

To date, I don’t think I’ve ever quit a job (or even missed a day of work) without what I considered to be an “extremely good reason”. I can’t wrap my head around the people who can take time off, just because it feels like a good time – and not because they need to, for some super important situation that came up. I’ve always wanted to be that type of person.

Then, one day I realized: The need to spread my wings was a completely legitimate reason to take some alone time.

Allowing yourself “mental health days” (days dedicated 100% to making sure your emotional and spiritual needs are met) is good for your overall happiness, which has a direct positive impact on your health as a whole. More than just that, we have 12 reasons why taking time off to travel makes your life better:


1. It gives you time to heal.

Just like with a relationship, the pain from a job can last well into the future – unless you make sure to learn something from it. In many cases, a job can teach you something valuable, even if it wasn’t a good fit. In fact, especially if it wasn’t a good fit. These bad-fit jobs help you redefine your life’s purpose, and help you to see how to reach your goals in the future. Traveling clears your mind and allows you to process what part of the job you were unhappy with, so you can learn from the experience and look for something a little more perfect.


2. It teaches you resourcefulness.

When you quit a job (or take an extended hiatus from your day job), you force yourself to budget better, and to prioritize the expenses in your life. Sometimes it’s as simple as downgrading your cable package and switching to the store-brand cereals – but it can be as extreme as traveling the world with just a backpack. However you choose to tackle the challenges of unemployment, you’ll gain a new outlook on the situation you previously took for granted.


3. It provides endless inspiration.

When you allow yourself to take in the beauty of nature and your surroundings, you can open your mind to new possibilities. A walk in the park turns into a brainstorming session for an entrepreneurial burst. Meditation by the fireplace gives you time to work on that novel that’s been bouncing around for years. If you’ve recently been through a shift in your relationship (whether recently serious or recently single), these new settings can help you reach a more clarified understanding of what you need.


4. It teaches gratitude and perspective.

Traveling the world teaches you that your perspective isn’t just your own – and other people in the world would be grateful to have the things you scorn. While the old saying “Don’t be sad, someone else always has it worse” isn’t exactly a good approach, it can help to bring an understanding of how much you really have. Traveling teaches you how to give back.


5. It pushes your boundaries.

Traveling to an unfamiliar place can be a scary experience – but in most cases, it’s an invigorating one. Making the brave decision to quit your job and travel will undoubtedly challenge you, but it’ll also give you the opportunity to prove yourself in ways you’ve never imagined. Sometimes, it’s worth pushing yourself through the discomfort in order to come out a winner on the other side.


6. It teaches you attitude is (almost) everything.

Traveling to war-torn or poverty-stricken areas can show you how powerful having a positive attitude can be. As much as we know that happy people are more successful, it can be hard to understand exactly what that means in terms of your own attitude. When you help in places that are grateful for their blessings in spite of their hardships, it can help inspire you to do the same in your own life (and, hopefully, inspire you to do more helping).


7. It connects you to the world.

When you’re traveling to places that are inclusive and welcoming to newcomers, it helps to remind you that we’re all the same, in essence. Being inclusive of those around us is one of the simplest things you can do to increase your own happiness – you’ll feel more connected with the world around you, and you’ll notice the subtleties of different cultural expectations. (And hopefully, you won’t commit any cultural faux pas along the way!)


8. It helps you slow down and take it all in.

In our day to day lives, we tend to forget about the simplicities of taking it slow. I know I have a hard time winding down enough to take things as they come – as it stands, I’ve got a schedule drafted up until the middle of July. Traveling makes you see things a moment at a time, and helps remind you to savor the good things – and enjoy the temporary nature of the bad things.


9. It inspires you to work hard.

Seeing works of architectural beauty, such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or the pyramids in Egypt, or the Taj Mahal in India, reminds you of what you can accomplish if you stay focused on a single goal for an extended period of time. Learning how long each of these structures took to complete helps teach the value of perseverance – the Angkor Wat took about 30 years, as did the pyramids in Giza, and the Taj Mahal clocked in at around 20 years. Don’t give up – your masterpiece is worth a little extra time!


10. It brings to light the magic of the arts.

When’s the last time you went on an exciting trip and stayed in the hotel to watch TV? Chances are, that’s not what you’re doing in unfamiliar territory – but traveling can help inspire the passion to check out the culture in your local community, too. There’s no such thing as “too little television”, in the grand scheme of things, and learning how to unplug and find new things to appreciate is a valuable skill that many of us are forgetting how to do.


11. It brings back the mystery of the mundane.

Maybe going around and riding in a streetcar is normal to you. But riding a streetcar in your home town, versus riding a streetcar in an unfamiliar location, doesn’t inspire you to look past the surface. Even if you visit a new place and do the same things you’d be doing if you were home, they have a newfound magic because you’re doing them somewhere new – and you’ll start to notice similarities once you return to your everyday routine.


12. It’s fun – and life should be fun.

You deserve to have a little fun. Life shouldn’t be all about working, creating, and challenging yourself – sometimes, you need to kick back and have a good time. Quitting your job to travel the world is an important part of life, and most people share the desire to do exactly that at some point – why not today?

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Author
Barbara is a 26-year-old lesbian living in California with her partner (and their “fur babies” - an adorably chubby puppy named Porkchop and a ball python named Ru). In the spare time she pretends to have, she enjoys horror movies, music of all varieties, reading, and complaining about the weather.

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