If you ask me how many countries I’ve been to, I’ll say “Not many.” I like to take it slow, because my whole life has always been moving at a fast pace, and I find myself needing to catch up with the hectic lives and new changes around me.
Traveling gives me the opportunities to do the things I’ve always been eager to try, and live the kind of life I’ve always dreamed about. I quit my job in 2015 to focus on my travels. I wanted to see more of what the world had to offer.
I’m not telling you to quit your job, too. Go whenever you can, even if it means traveling seasonally. A seasonal traveler is still a traveler! If you wish to work while you travel, you can try taking freelance work on the go.
Whether you’re keeping that full-time job of yours, or quitting it to travel full-time, here are 8 reasons why you should pack your bags and start traveling.
1. New adventures await you
Travel gives you the opportunities to explore new things. They can be the places you’ve always dreamed of visiting, the cultures you’ve read about in your history books, the world’s highest bungee jump you’ve been wanting to try, and so on.
Whatever it is you’re looking for, find it along the way, and enjoy every moment. The world is a wonderful playground. Of course, you must remember to always travel responsibly, no matter where you are. Hit the road as soon as the chances roll in. You’ll never know what you might find out there!
2. Travel gives you empathy for the world’s problems
How much do you know about the world? Before I started traveling, I knew very little about the world. Although I never really understood the pains of others when I saw the news, I began to feel them when I witnessed them myself for the first time.
Traveling has exposed me to a world so alien from mine. I became more curious, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the world and about life. The experience has also made me more humble and appreciative. Yes, the world is indeed a place that holds many mysteries. Want to enter the school of life? Travel.
3. It motivates you to give back
When we travel the world, we may just realize how much we’ve taken for granted the things we have, which others might never get to enjoy or experience. My journey to Laos made me realize how fortunate I was to be given a chance to have a safe neighborhood to live, clean water to bathe, a chance to go to school and graduate from college and so on.
Many of the people from the 3rd world countries I visited were very humble, helpful and generous, which also made me realize that the ones who don’t have much are usually also the most generous. It inspired me to give back to society. You, too, can help someone today.
4. New friendships along the way
During my travels, I’ve made many new and meaningful friendships along the way. The best thing about it was many of the people I met on the road are very similar to me. We share similar interests, we enjoy doing things together, we have more or less the same kind of mindset, and we believe in helping others.
We may come from different countries, have been raised in different cultures, or follow different philosophies in life, but we embrace each other’s differences and similarities. We even fell in love. Today, we still make trips together, even if it means meeting each other halfway around the world.
5. It trains you to be tougher and more independent
Our minds sometimes make us underestimate our true talents and capabilities. Just because we have the abilities to do many things, doesn’t mean we are capable of doing them. Sometimes, it take tough times to bring the best out of us.
I used to think that I’ll never be able to travel due to insufficient funds, yet I still followed my dreams, even if it meant I had to travel beyond my means. Tough conditions taught me to be mentally, emotionally and physically tougher. I admit that I still find myself crying in a corner sometimes, but I always pull myself together in the end.
Indeed, traveling made me appreciate the individual I am, and can become. If you’re a solo traveler, you might also start to appreciate the joy of being alone, and realize that your happiness doesn’t need to depend on someone else.
6. You learn to be better at handling money
When I started my first solo trip, I didn’t have much money. I was worried if I didn’t have enough for my journey — or if anything happened to me, I won’t have anyone to lean on. I also felt insecure when I quit my job to travel (with no plan of coming back home anytime soon) and only had US$200 in hand.
Let me tell you this: I wasn’t very young when I started doing all this. While I was on the road, I never stopped looking for opportunities, be it finding money, freelance work, or any kind of employment in a foreign country.
Everyday was a challenge, but that was what kept me going. Since I didn’t have much, I learned to be more prudent with my money, and not only did I find ways to save, I also taught myself how to make money while on the go.
7. You can inspire others
I’m not sure if anyone has ever inspired me to travel. Back then, I rarely had access to social media. Therefore, I hardly saw inspiring stories and pictures like the ones I frequently see today. I guess I was inspired to travel more after my trip to the Philippines, which was the first overseas country I visited.
I had a penpal who lived there, whom I wanted to meet. After the wonderful experience in the country, I realized that I should explore the world while I’m still young and strong. I also realized that traveling isn’t just about visiting nice places, but also learning about other other cultural differences, global sufferings and more — and that life isn’t just about going to school and getting a job.
8. It pushes you out of your comfort zone
I have to be honest with you. Traveling isn’t always easy, and sometimes your travel journeys are like the scenes of a drama series. No joke. I suppose that’s why I like traveling. I love the thrills and adventures it offers.
Hard times on the road have shaped the way I think and how to help myself, and improve my survival skills. Of course, I didn’t learn all these by myself. My problems were my teachers, but they’re weren’t the only ones.
The people I met were also my teachers. Some of them were trouble, and some of them were my heroes. Although I was in the Girl Guides’ club in school, I never learned how to make a fire. I was just a silent member of the group. Many years later, I learned how to do it in the woods, when I actually went camping in the wild.
Since I can’t take everything I own with me, I also learned to feel less attachment to my things. I also learned to adapt to new things, even when they don’t always make me comfortable.
We often think that the world is a big, scary place; but, we must not judge it too quickly before we explore it. Go out and explore the goodness that the world has to offer, and you’ll enjoy every moment of it.
Go travel. If not today, perhaps tomorrow is a good day to begin! 🙂