I have friends who don’t understand why I like traveling so much, especially when they find out I go to some countries where backpacking can be slightly more demanding, like India.
“Why visit places where you won’t have a nice time?” They ask. Well, the answer isn’t that simple; it’s not only about liking to travel, it’s a need.
First, one has to decide what “nice” means — I find using a squat toilet a lot “nicer” than sitting in front of a computer, working for long hours! Well, you get the picture. What’s a struggle for one person might be a delight for another.
The more I travel the more I evolve. One could argue it’s perfectly possible to achieve the same type of personal development without traveling. Fair enough, but how many people put themselves in tricky situations in their home country in order to become “better people”? Not that many.
When you travel and you’re thrown in the deep end, you evolve a lot quicker — believe me — especially if you’re doing it with an open mind, willing to absorb as many experiences as possible.
Throughout my travels I changed a lot. Here’s why you must travel and do the same:
1. It Gives You Perspective
At home, your knowledge about the world is very limited — you have to believe what the media tells you. You might be lucky enough to meet people who’ve traveled and can tell you stories, but still, it’s their experiences, not yours.
When you traverse the globe with your own feet you see violence, poverty, and the effects of global warming and you stop to think about whether everything you believed was really true. When you have a feijoada (black bean stew) in Brazil, for instance, you start questioning the food of the local Brazilian restaurant.
You have to understand the real world in order to create your own opinion about everything. You challenge every new piece of information, because now you know it can be filtered through someone else’s experiences and it may not be the real deal.
2. You Change Your Priorities
I have traveled in a minimalist way for a long time, but even still, the more I travel, the less I carry. When you meet desert tribes who don’t have anything and are super happy with their lives, you question your possessions. I’m constantly asking myself, “Do I really need this?”
Imagine, in a fantastical world, if everything you take for granted didn’t exist? You didn’t have hot water — running water, even! – and no safety, not even shoes? Well, this fantastical world is out there and it’s very real.
The more you travel, you’ll see yourself eating more healthily, taking shorter showers because you’re conscious of water wastage, and wanting to learn about new cultures by taking language courses or visiting museums or art galleries.
The things I value nowadays are a direct consequence of my travels — what was important in the past might not be again in the near future.
3. You Become a Better Person
Some people dislike this statement, saying it has nothing to do with traveling. I’d argue this by claiming that the way you travel is as important as traveling itself.
If you and your friends are going to Vegas just to gamble and party, I, too, cannot see any improvement in one’s life. Equally, if you go to India and only stay in five star hotels, I doubt it will be a rewarding experience.
When you travel you connect with a place and its people — you slowly see that no matter how different you are, you’re still human beings. People want shelter, they want their children safe and nourished, and to have a long laugh with their friends.
This, in itself, is a beautiful realization — we’re all equals. The moment you start seeing yourself as a citizen of the world, your worldview shifts completely. You want to understand more and feel more.
You want everybody to be as happy as you are and you don’t want to see anyone suffering. When you believe you can change yourself and change the world around you, travel becomes more than just a desire – it becomes a necessity.