I ask every person I interview “If money was not an issue, how would you spend your life?” Almost everyone answers, traveling! As human beings, we love travel. Studies show that we are more optimistic about our work after travel and we improve social connections and communication skills1. Among other things, traveling alone can boost confidence, provide a greater peace of mind and bring you more in touch with yourself2.
On a recent expedition, I had several realizations of my own. Among them, five reasons why we love to travel!
Your Dreams Are Out There
I’ve traveled a lot in the past. When I landed in Denver, Co. the other day, I was so relieved that the mountains were all still there! Sounds crazy, but there’s a metaphor here. Traveling and having this experience reminded me, that our (your) dreams are still out there. And just like the mountains that I don’t experience everyday, my (your) dreams are an achievable experience as well.
You know, your dreams – the things that you’re working on day in day out with that day job and all the stress!
When you have changes of scenery to this degree, you’re reminded there is wonder outside of your normal experience.
Anything is still possible.
You Get To Know Yourself, Again
If you’re traveling alone, you get a lot of uninterrupted time with your thoughts. When you’ve got the mental space, this can be liberating. You reset your purposes and intentions, grieve and heal from recent stresses. The opportunity to think deeply about the meaning of the most recent events in your life is afforded. You have the chance to recalibrate.
Likely, there was a time when you were in a similar mental space. This initial experience enabled you to identify the hopes and dreams that drove you in the first place. Traveling alone can get you to that place once again. It can help you you take stock and adapt to the current landscape of life.
It Changes You
The openness dimension of our personality is one of the Big Five Personality traits researchers use to differentiate our personalities. A study from 2013 reports that especially when traveling in a foreign country, your level of openness can increase3. This adaptation can reduce your tendency to be emotionally reactive in your daily life, and thus your stress level decreased.
Your perception changes. Your world doesn’t seem as unmanageable. Something transcendent happens.
Travel makes you healthier. Women and men who don’t take an annual vacation are more likely to die. And men who don’t vacation are 30% more likely to get heart disease8.
For god sakes, go on vacation!
It’s Who We Are
It is widely believed that for 99% of human history, we’ve been nomadic. There weren’t villages, cities or towns. We were born to move around the globe5. The longing to do so is in our DNA. As a matter of fact, gene DRD4-7R is called the wanderlust gene. It is correlated with high levels of curiosity and restlessness6. This particular gene is present in 20% of the population7. So you have a one in five chance at being a natural nomad. No matter, it is in our very souls, the desire to travel.
It’ll Make You Smarter and More Creative
There are many different theories on how human beings learn. From behaviorism to situated learning theory, they all seem to have their own versions of building blocks. You can’t learn one concept without having some knowledge of a related or adjacent concept. Traveling increases your experience, which can in turn increase your library of concepts. You’re more worldly, smarter.
Experiences traveling increase the depth of thought and the need to make connections between dissimilar concepts. This process is often the genesis of creativity8.
Traveling is a wonderful thing. A sense of adventure can always shake up the mundane. I love traveling. Whether by car or train, plane or on foot, I was born to be on the move.