Travel is one of the most intoxicating of paramours — sleek, seductive and always just beyond your grasp. Luckily, it doesn’t always have to be this way. Traveling these days is surprisingly easy to do, and it provides a litany of mental and emotional benefits. If any of these reasons to travel appeal to you, you should probably start packing right away, because we both know you want to go.
1. It changes your perspective.
Leaving your comfort bubble doesn’t have to mean being uncomfortable; new experiences are stimulating and provide us with the ability to see things from a different point of view. Travel makes you more well-rounded because you’ve seen a variety of cultures and experienced the world the way they see it, making you realize that everyone sees things differently.
2. Experiences are more valuable than material possessions.
Science says so! Getting out in the world and doing things will make you happier than spending your money on material purchases.
3. It’s really fun.
Traveling is not one of those things that should be undersold — there’s no “Oh, well it’s great, if you’re into that kind of thing” or “I just don’t think that being exposed to centuries of culture, history, architecture and amazing food will really do anything for me” when it comes to travel. It is fun. Really, really fun. You’ll see things you’ve never seen before, eat foods that you can’t pronounce correctly, be embarrassed about being an American and have an incredibly great time.
4. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
There are a wealth of travel sites out there with great deals; places like Groupon are also in on the action with cheap roundtrip flight and hotel packages. Even airlines are offering package deals nowadays — for the cheapest flights, consider an airline you might never have used before, such as the Dublin-based Aer Lingus, which offers prices like New York to Amsterdam roundtrip for around $850.
5. If you have time now, you should use it.
Though it might not seem like it, free time is often abundant during the college years. It becomes decidedly less so once you start working and have to do things like earn your vacation time (slowly, painfully, over a period of many, many months) and then use it for unpleasant things like dentist appointments and funerals when your sick days run out. If you have vacation time built up, use it while you can; if you’re between jobs and have enough money, spend it on something worthwhile; if you’re in school and have the freedom to travel between semesters or before you start a summer job or internship, do it so your future self doesn’t hate you and travel backward in time to haunt you like the ghost of Jacob Marley.
6. It’ll make people jealous.
Instead of being jealous of that jerk who gets to go Europe for three works, you can be that jerk who gets to go to Europe for three weeks! Or South America, or Australia, or wherever. Be a jerk anywhere in the world!
7. It helps you break out of a rut.
Travel is exciting, challenging and always unexpected. If you feel like your life is stale and predictable, there’s no better way to break that pattern than by going somewhere you’ve never been and having completely new experiences.
8. The future is uncertain.
Maybe you’ll wreck your car next week; maybe you’ll decide to go to grad school in a year; maybe you’ll lose your job; maybe the world will succumb to nuclear war next year. You never know what unexpected setbacks could hit the pause button on your travel plans, so if you can go now, you should.
9. You gain new skills.
Many people live in places without a bike-sharing program or a metro or even any public transportation at all. Some people have never tried sushi or bought a cell phone in another country or had to dodge someone trying to sell them flowers. These are all things that will give you life experience as well as add to your vivid travel memories.
10. It increases your problem-solving abilities.
One word: Navigation. Also train schedules, delayed flights, signs in Hungarian with no English translations and running out of money. Facing problems like this makes you more creative you’re your solutions and also helps make you more open-minded. The more accustomed you become to doing unfamiliar things and solving unexpected problems, the more flexible and adaptable you’ll be.
11. You become braver.
It takes a lot of guts to venture into new places where literally everything is foreign to you. But after doing things like climbing mountains, carrying your possessions around in a backpack for weeks, talking to strangers and making unplanned side trips to somewhere you hadn’t heard of the day before, it’ll be a lot easier to try new things with confidence.
12. You learn new languages.
Even if it’s only “please,” “thank you” and some food-related phrases, you’ll still be able to communicate with people in another language, which is pretty awesome.
13. It helps you figure yourself out.
When you explore your interests, it gives you a stronger sense of self, according to Dr. Alice Boyes — traveling gives you the opportunity not just to see things you’ve never seen before and to be exposed to a different way of life, it also gives you the chance to explore your own likes and dislikes, perhaps leading to some minor epiphanies.
14. You make new friends.
Travelers help each other out; it’s kind of an unwritten social code. Even if you’re normally the kind of person who shuns the company of others and always has a scowl ready to drive away overly friendly strangers, you’ll still probably make friends with the people who were stuck on the same train as you for 6 hours and helped you find your hotel or hostel, which they’re also staying at. You might even find that Vacation You isn’t as cranky as Regular You, and you might actually strike up a pleasant conversation with a stranger for no reason other than that you’re feeling happy and adventurous.
15. You appreciate home.
There’s no place like home, especially after a long trip. Traveling allows you to appreciate the things you have — things that might have seemed boring and constraining before you left feel comfortable and familiar after some time away, and you realize it’s nice to have a place you can always come back to.