Updated: Oct 30, 2020
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If you've landed here you're probably a traveler yourself or maybe you'd like to travel more post-COVID-19. Intrigued by the all-around importance of travel, I've interviewed 27 fellow travel gurus from 9 different countries & all different backgrounds. Here's what I found...
“You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!”
1. Improves your Health
Traveling after/during a pandemic could cause worry. Maybe others are itching to scratch their travel bug… wherever you are on the spectrum traveling has many benefits for your mind, body & soul.
According to the Framingham Heart Study, men & women who traveled annually were less likely to suffer from a heart attack or develop heart disease. Men, specifically, who did not vacation for several years were 30% more likely to suffer a heart attack.
Annette White from California, U.S. owner of The Bucket List Journey states, “It is simply a time to re-energize your batteries or disconnect from the stresses at home.”
& Andrea Chase from Chicago, U.S. & singer in Chase&Park agrees, “Traveling is an excuse to relax! Also, usually traveling means spending more time outdoors, which is a great way for us to experience nature especially if you live in a concrete jungle.”
Not only does traveling relieve stress but some parts of the world actually have natural healing properties. Yes, you heard that right.
According to the Daily Sabah, “The medical miracles of hot water springs in central Turkey heal dozens every day. The springs in the Kozaklı ...have treated rheumatism, muscle and joint pain, and even psychological disorders...”
2. Cultural Sensitivity
Cultural sensitivity is the ability to have empathy & understanding of other backgrounds different from your own. This quality is especially vital in business & to be a well- rounded human being. In recent news on the Black Lives Matter movement, brands like Elf Cosmetics who is matching all donations to the cause, Nike's 'For once, Don't Do It' campaign, or Airbnb's Project Lighthouse initiative show their support in being culturally aware & responsive.
Vegan Enthusiasts & owners of Alternative Travelers, Sam Anthony, from New York & Veren Ferrera, from California, U.S. explain, "We strongly feel that it's important to make an effort to learn and understand why different cultures do things a certain way, and why others might hold certain attitudes and mindsets. Being exposed to differing viewpoints can help travelers become global citizens, engaged in bettering the world for all."
Traveling is important because one is able to understand there's more than one way to do any one thing. For example, David Castonguay & Tara Kranics from Canada state “We always say how the more we travel, the more we realize that there aren’t right or wrong ways to do things- just different. Like for example, if something in a “developing country” takes longer (like doing laundry by hand), it’s not wrong, just different. And in its own way, it is exactly perfect.”
Juliana Costa from Brazil & owner of Remotely, agrees, “physically moving to a different location makes confronting different realities a daily practice. Something as simple as shopping for groceries in a new location can be challenging, or at least make us go "huh, didn't know it could be done that way."
Immersing yourself in what a different culture finds important could be the key to connections & a deeper understanding. Monica K., a passionate tea lover from Boston, U.S. says, “Wanting to see more than what’s sitting in the palm of your hand, trying new things! I found this through tea - it’s given me a way to participate in local cultures and traditions and sparked incredible conversations with those working and living in the places I visit!”
Breaking the Stereotype
It is said that 55% of Americans don't have a passport & the numbers are said to be much higher for the Black Community. Chanice Williams aka "Queenie" from New York, U.S. a creative storyteller & owner of Fly With Queenie, exclaims, "it’s especially important for black people to travel because we do not exercise our right to travel by getting a passport and exploring places beyond our backyards."
If you're still not convinced to get your passport & start traveling, check out, "10 Reasons Black Americans Need a Passport." or get inspired by Jessica Nabongo; the first black woman to travel to 195 countries, #blackgirlmagic.
"I think it is important to travel because, in America, you can easily see that a significant amount of Americans aren’t cultured. People from different ethnicities and belief systems are constantly being stereotyped."
3. Networking Opportunities & Relationships
Travel is important because not only do you meet people from different walks of life that will potentially become business partners, forever friends, or even a future spouse...relationships with your loved ones at home are tested for strength & commitment.
Take Jasmine Langloisa a Virtual Assistant from North Carolina, the U.S for example, "So far I’ve traveled to 26 countries and along the way I’ve met so many amazing people I would have never met otherwise; some of which became my mentors, closest friends, and even my husband."
"We are so close-minded oftentimes to people around us in places we don’t expect. So many amazing people & cultures in this world that we are unaware of… I recently started a clothing label with a woman from Bangladesh." - Olivia Harrington from Michigan, U.S helps women build their confidence through lifestyle, travel, & fashion.
“I have also met and made so many amazing friends which I now have all over the world. I think to myself if I didn’t travel I would not have had all the crazy adventures or met some really amazing people.”- Dain Luka, a travel & lifestyle vlogger, from England.
Travel isn't always as glamorous as it seems on Instagram. Sometimes it takes mingling with locals to truly experience their culture for what it is. Courtney Brady from Washington State, U.S., & owner of Nourish the Free Life remarks, "To me, traveling isn't just about staying in nice hotels or seeing all the tourist sites. Those things can be great but my most meaningful moments when traveling is when I have interacted with the locals, seen places outside of what normal tourists stick to."
Travel makes you more interesting in social situations & therefore can be thought of as an "ice breaker," something that allows you to stand out when conversing with others. "Traveling to me is bringing a new perspective to the world. It always makes a good way to shine in a social situation." says, June Legaspi a creative traveler & drone pilot from the Philippines.
4. Enhances Your Creativity
Exploration & adventure provoke your curiosity. When you see things you've never seen before new ideas spark!
A study by the American Psychological Association found that "priming students to mentally recreate their past experiences living abroad or adapting to a new culture caused students, at least temporarily, to be more creative. For example, these students drew space aliens and solved word games more creatively than students primed to recall other experiences."
Martin Stoynov, an adventurist, from Bulgaria exclaims, “It’s a gateway to that feeling from your childhood when everything around you was unknown and there to be explored!”
5. Personal Growth
Appreciation & Acceptance
"Being able to travel is such a gift, and I never take any trip for granted. How lucky are we to taste teas from Hangzhou in China, to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, to sip mezcal in Oaxaca in Mexico? What a gift to be able to fly to Zanzibar to learn about the Masai or cruise over to Japan and experience Japanese Izakaya's? We are all so intertwined in our history, and travel offers us an opportunity to discover and celebrate how we got here. Travel is the greatest gift of all time." -Micaela Piccolo, from New Jersey, U.S, hosting retreats for women through travel at Wanderlette.
"To me, it means to embrace inner peace, reconnecting with nature, and to simply celebrate the mere beauty of life. I always see travel as a vital way of learning how to fully live and a great tool to shape myself into the best person I can possibly be. Travel means so much to me, that I think it is far more valuable than money will ever be."- Phem Alabata from Cebu, Philippines, manager at Coral Cottages.
Cara Gervasi, a travel agent from New Jersey, the U.S. notes, "Being more accepting and open to diversity is a huge part of travel. Travel has a way of changing your heart, mind, and soul unlike anything else I have ever experienced."
Travel can often make you appreciate things from back at home that you hadn't before or things that you're fortunate enough to have that maybe others throughout your travels do not. Gracy Gu, a world traveler from Ecuador explains, "I think it's important to travel because it just makes you appreciate life, you get to see and experience many things that you probably wouldn't if you didn't travel."
"You see how small you are compared to the world and how much of the world there is to see. You get to see how beautiful the world really is. So keep traveling, keep exploring, & keep discovering." -Caterina Yibirin from Florida, U.S.; world traveler.
Dain Luka from England speaks on the benefits of solo travel, “Traveling alone also helps us become more independent by putting ourselves in odd and challenging situations. I think I would be a totally different person had I not started traveling.”
"I think it’s important to travel because it allows you to grow as a person, whether you’re helping others, developing tough skin, trying new things ... you discover a deeper level of your persona you didn’t even know exists. We are forever students. We never stop learning. Travel educates the mind, stimulates the body, and feeds the soul." - Lisa Gaye from Jamaica, owner of Shakespeare Agency.
Sometimes we don't even know we hold certain biases until we're exposed to new cultures & only then can we begin to search deep down within ourselves & unpack them.
Amanda Meeks from Iowa, U.S. & owner of The Women Who Wander, explains, "People aren’t intentionally ignorant, but when you are stuck in the same zip code your entire life, it’s harder to understand how others live, what other lifestyles are like, and what the world could be if you let it and got to know it better."
6. Hands-on Learning
I bet you can remember at least one field trip you went on when you were younger. Why do you think field trips were always the best part of school? Because they're a fully immersive experience that helps connect book knowledge to the real world.
Jeyn Zamora from Bohol, Philippines talks about her travel experiences with her children-
"In my case, I make it a point that I teach my sons (15 and 11) tolerance, kindness, understanding, acceptance, flexibility, and adaptability first-hand through traveling. Even if both of us (their parents) are working, we see to it that we travel at least 3 times in a year (once abroad, and twice locally) to marvel on the beauty and diversity this world has to offer."
Paola Garcia from the Philippines comments, "Sure, you can learn about our planet through books, social media, tv, movies, and all the likes. It isn’t truly enough to know about them. It is different to touch, feel, and experience what the world has to offer first hand. You learn something EVERY time you travel and those experiences can never come from all that media."
"The differences between people and places are beautiful, interesting, and beneficial; you never know when knowing how someone else does something will improve how you approach it," says Leigha Jonestock Elementary teacher from Georgia, U.S.
Lastly, travel prompts you to learn new languages. Especially if you're traveling for a longer period of time you'll pick up on the local language quicker because you're being exposed to it. For example, in Tagalog (widely used language in the Philippines) thank you is "salamat" & when I went home to visit Chicago over the holidays I found myself saying salamat instead of thank you. My brain had officially been trained to speak in Tagalog!
In 2007, Pearce & Foster did a study on students traveling abroad for 4 weeks or more & found from 95 travelers, 42 new skills were learned including problem-solving, interpersonal skills, resource management & social skills, etc.
Farah Mukhtar; a world traveler from the UK agrees, "It’s important for increasing independence from leaving your comfort zone, especially for young people who are curious about the world, and still trying to figure out what they want to do in their lives. This is where life skills like budgeting and navigating a map, and other transferable skills such as organization, planning, and adaptability, etc. would be developed."
Lauren Oliver, a law clerk & future lawyer from Chicago, U.S. speaks on her travel abroad experience in Spain, "Traveling isn’t just about respecting another culture, but it’s about gracefully embracing it and making it a part of your own. It’s about learning how to do things that you never thought you could. It’s also about growth in every area of life and taking that growth back with you.
I never have used a subway to travel, but that was our only transportation to and from class. I became so much better with taking different means of transportation when I got back home. If I was an expert at learning transportation in Spanish, I knew I would master it back in the US.
I will always have a piece of Spain in my heart. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for that experience!"
7. Support the Local Economy
"We also think that travel is important for all of the communities and people around the world who rely on it for their livelihoods and for the connection and exchange that happens between local people and travelers. Many of the businesses involved in travel are small and family-owned. Therefore, when travelers make decisions so that the money they spend stays local with these small businesses that can create an important positive socio-economic impact." - Audrey & Daniel Scott- owners of Uncornered Market - from Pennsylvania & Virginia, U.S.
Thank you to each & every contributor that shared their travel insights!
If you like what you read & found it insightful, be sure to share!