Traveling is an experience and an education, it is breath taking, it is a journey without a destination, it does not have to be expensive and most of all you can do it at any age! Travelling is about a mind-set where you begin to see the world your place in it, differently. Here are the reasons why we think travel is so important and why you should make time for it at least once a year!
1. To solve problems
Travelling is the most wonderful thing and exploring new places is a lot of fun, but things often go wrong. We have spent many a trip walking for hours because we got the directions wrong or took the wrong bus, or we have missed a tour and had to pay extra because of it. You learn to make another plan and try something else — if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! One of the most important things you will learn is that not everything goes according to plan: flights get cancelled, visas are denied, trains break down, GPS signals fail, and you have to try something else. This lesson is also one to carry with you in everyday life, learn to have a plan A, B, C, D and so on until you get to Z! Just like life, travel can be unpredictable and you must learn to be more adaptable to change. Pictures often make it seem as though it’s all sunshine and selfies, but I promise you, it isn’t. Learning to adapt to a situation will help you enjoy your future adventures as well as learn how to accommodate the humps and bumps that present themselves.
2. Teaches you to have a sense of humour
In our experience, you need to have a sense of humour, often the only thing that can help you in a tough spot is try and find the comical side to your situation. Travelling will teach you that it’s okay to laugh at yourself as well as the ridiculous predicament you find yourself in! Learning to be calm and malleable in stressful situations when travelling will also help you apply that same mentality to the difficult times in your life. We have often found ourselves walking for kilometres on end because we ran out of money or missed the last bus — it was not fun but learning to laugh in situations like these made a huge difference to the rest of our trip and our relationship!
3. To appreciate other cultures and languages
Often, when travelling, especially if you are in Europe, people will speak multiple languages in the various places you visit. Sometimes it can be really difficult if you have lost your bags or you need to get directions to go somewhere. This has helped us learn to respect that we are guests in someone else’s country and to appreciate other cultures. We have become pretty good at sign language and having the google translate app on your phone can be a big help when trying to navigate your way around a conversation. For me, this has been an incredible lesson in humility, not everyone speaks my language and the people that can speak it, usually speak several other languages. Learn a few phrases before you go, and you will love feeling like you are a part of the culture. We loved Paris so much because we actually tried speaking French while we were there. I am not saying we spoke well, but the people were really helpful, and we had a better experience because of it. I love this quote and it embodies some of the reasons why I think travel is so important.
“Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” — Rita Mae Brown.
4. To appreciate where you live
Travelling to new places will teach you about new cultures and traditions, but it will also teach you how to appreciate everything about your home. It is easy to forget about what makes your country special because you live there every day. Travelling within your little part of the world is so important, it is where you come from and you should learn everything you can about it. Since we have been traveling, we can appreciate what we love about our home because we know the grass is not always greener on the other side, it just looks like it is from far away! Every place is different, beautiful and unique but Zimbabwe with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams (to quote the Desiderata) is home.
5. To be friendly with people you don’t know
One of the very best things about travelling is that you never know who you are going to meet along the way! I am not saying they will become your best friends or that you will ever see them again, but meeting new people with a different background to your own is always a good thing. Strike up a conversation with the person who asks you to take a photo of them or chat to the person sitting next to you on the bus — you are all doing the same thing. It can be embarrassing if you feel like you said something wrong or if they are not responsive but that is not what’s important. We met some people from El Salvador and spent the day with them learning about Guatemala and Canada (which is where they were from) — two places we knew nothing about. This will teach you to take (small) risks and could possibly change your perspective on many things.
6. To be more confident
Solving problems, navigating your way around the tourist sites, talking to people you have never met, communicating through sign language, booking and planning your travels all help you gain more confidence in yourself. It makes you realise that actually you can do anything — as you venture out from your comfort zone, you will be surprised at what problems you can solve and what activities you end up doing! You make so many quick decisions when travelling that it’s almost impossible not to have more faith in yourself and your ability to be okay in unpredictable circumstances.
7. To learn more about who you are
Being totally away from everything that grounds you teaches you a lot about who you are. Trying new things can be scary but the rewards for facing your fears will make you grow as a person. These fears can be anything from cliff jumping to trying new food or even just getting on the plane and going somewhere! Experiencing the new, different, weird and wonderful things while travelling can open up your eyes to all the worlds possibilities. By doing these things, learning about the world and seeing how small a place you occupy in it, will show you whether you would rather read a book on the beach or go kite surfing or whether you like having cocktails at dinner or going out to a club. However, you have to experience these things outside of what you’re used to before you can really know.
8. To enjoy every moment of your life
When you travel, everything is exciting and new. You walk around looking at buildings and thinking about how amazing this new place is and it is beautiful, but I think this teaches you to enjoy your everyday life as much as you enjoy your travels. You find the beauty in the small things when traveling because you look at everything with rose tinted glasses, try seeing your everyday life in the same way. The new lime green leaves on the tree outside my window in the Netherlands or a really gorgeous sunrise. — learn to appreciate these things daily and not just when you travel. Life is short. So book the trip, travel to new places but also appreciate every day in between your travels, go out for cocktails, eat the chocolate croissant, buy the dress and make the most of every day.