Ever since the dawn of time, our brain was wired to gather knowledge and evolve. And while school is the go-to place to improve your academic knowledge, it doesn’t do much when it comes to teaching you about life, or careers for that matter.
Discovering yourself and improving your skills is something you will have to do on your own, without schools and academies guiding your way. And when it comes to activities that can improve your life, traveling is perhaps the most enriching one. Whether it’s the places you see, the people you meet, or the fact that you need to push out of your comfort zone, traveling offers some valuable life lessons that neither school nor any academy can provide. That’s simply because you are experiencing these things rather than just learning or talking about them.
Traveling is fun and can even seem shallow sometimes, but only for those who don’t want to see the bigger picture. After all, it’s what you want to make of it. If you are still in doubt, here is how traveling can help you grow as an individual and teach you some invaluable life lessons.
Learning to adapt to change
They say change is the only constant in life, and traveling has a way of adding to this belief. Even if you are following an itinerary to the letter, chances are you are going to experience some unpredictable situations.
Maybe there is a storm that took everyone by surprise and messed up air traffic, forcing you to prolong your vacation. What can you do about it? You can stress out and become anxious, or you can accept the fact that there are things you can’t control and simply embrace change. Go visit that museum you thought you did not have time to see, or to that concert you just heard about last night!
Travel teaches you how to stop wanting to control everything and accept change as a normal part of life. Change can create adversity, but adversity is the root of evolution, so what better way to let yourself evolve than by accepting change?
Embracing cultural differences
No matter how open minded you are, cultural shock will eventually happen when you travel to foreign places. Most of the times, the main reason it happens is the way certain cities or places are portrayed in the media.
Take the example BBC brought to our attention in 2006, when a group of 12 Japanese tourists experienced nervous breakdowns after visiting Paris, due to cultural shock. Paris is often portrayed as a romantic city, almost dreamy, but the reality of it is not as whimsical as you’ll see in movies. There are homeless people on the streets, protests and strikes happen quite frequently, and the metro is just as crowded and smelly as in any other big city.
As you begin to travel, cultural differences will become less and less surprising, and you will learn to accept cultural shock as a normal part of life. Good and bad things happen anywhere you go, and one of the most important things you will learn while traveling is that we are not all the same. We have different customs, ways of thinking, and even common sense does not mean the same for everyone.
Meeting new people
Traveling opens you up to a range of opportunities, including being able to find new people and make friends. Especially when you travel alone, meeting people in the most unlikely of places will bring a sense of comfort and fulfilment. That’s not to say you have to trust everything a stranger tells you, but keep an open mind and consider there is a possibility they can turn into life-long friends.
If you manage to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people with an open heart and mind, you may end up with more than just a pen-pal. You never know when you can meet your future business partner, boss, or even chemistry tuition professor.
Traveling has its unique way of awaking a sense of openness inside us. If we embrace it, we open ourselves up to the opportunity of forming strong bonds that last for a lifetime. Everyone you meet can teach you something, if you are willing to learn. Not to mention you get to hear some new perspective on subjects you thought you knew everything about.
Turning off autopilot
Whether we like to admit it or not, we run our lives on autopilot. Wake up, get out of bet, brush your teeth, get breakfast, drive to work, go back from work, take a shower, eat dinner, go to sleep – this is the everyday ritual for most of us, and we learn to do it without having to focus on every single task.
Traveling can help you turn off the autopilot and re-learn how to mindfully do things. You can’t keep doing the same things you did at home when you wake up in a cozy hotel in, say, Iceland. You will be ready to embrace new experiences, consciously make decisions, and you will feel revitalized once you break the monotonous cycle of everyday life.
Learn new things about yourself
Those who travel are willingly exposing themselves to learning something new. As you meet new cultures, you will get to experience creativity in a way that was not common to you by then. This can spark new interests and open you up to learning new skills and abilities, or simply getting to know yourself more.
Maybe you thought you will never be able to keep your composure if you get lost in a big city such as London, or even gather up the courage to ask for directions. However, when you are desperately trying to catch the next train and you don’t have the slightest idea where the nearest metro station is, your instinct kicks. You’ll get the courage to talk to people, or even learn to read a subway map in under 3 minutes, and this will prove you are more than what you let yourself believe to be.