Why I would rather travel than be rich
It’s been about 5 months since my blog went live, and it has been such a therapeutic creative outlet for the past few months. When I was thinking about starting this blog, much of the feedback was less than supportive. Some people said that I would never get any readers because I don’t travel full time. Some people didn’t understand why I love travel enough to produce content about it. Some don’t even understand why I travel.
I’ve had people contact me telling me that I’ve inspired them to take trips with their family. That my posts made them confident that the world was still safe enough to explore. That my photos have given them ideas for where they want to go. Recently, I was at a high school football game and was approached by someone that recognized me from my blog- that was a cool feeling. And comments like this are why I invest so much time in creating this content.
Despite these kind comments that keep me feeling like I’m writing this blog for more than just my own amusement, one of the most common questions I get is why I travel so much. A lot of people express concern that I’d rather plan my next trip than plan my wedding. Or they ask how I afford to travel (hint: you can afford anything that you make a priority). So today, I’ve decided to write a different kind of post and explain why I would rather travel than have an enormous amount of money in my bank account or own a house at 23.
1. Learning about other cultures helps you grow as a person
Cultural experience is the #1 reason that I travel. When I was 17, I traveled to Turkey without my parents for a cultural exchange program. I lived with host families that did not speak English, in a country that is 98.9% Muslim. At points, I felt more uncomfortable and vulnerable than I’ve ever felt in my life.
I came back to the US entirely changed and inspired. Despite a massive language barrier, I was able to find family in Turkey. I experienced more kindness and selflessness from people that had never met me than I’ve ever seen from my closest friends in the US.
Experiencing other cultures is not only interesting, but it makes you a more sympathetic person. If you do not leave your comfort zone, you cannot grow as a person, and that is why I travel. Those moments where you can’t speak the language, don’t understand the lay of the land and must rely on strangers are the moments that help you grow.
I think that we can all agree on the fact that food is one of the most enjoyable parts of being alive. When you live in the US, you feel like you have access to international cuisine at every corner, but this is simply not the case. There is nothing like eating Italian food in Italy or visiting a local farm to see where a local delicacy is produced. Food is one of the best ways to connect with locals abroad, especially when there is a substantial language barrier.
I continue to come back to this example, but when I was in Turkey, much of my bonding with my host families or learning of the language occurred over meals and tea. I once enjoyed a meal in Italy with a Spanish family while I practiced my Spanish and they practiced their English. The truth is, there is nothing better than food to bond people from different cultures.
Did I mention that food is one of my favorite favorite favorite parts about being alive? Yeah, there really is no experience quite like tasting local food, especially when you can see where it comes from before you eat it. I’m not exactly a foodie, but I do love to eat. The opportunity to try new foods is a major reason why I travel.
3. Experiences keep you young
I know that I’m only 23 years old and have a lot of life left to live. I hope that I never reach a day where I don’t look at the world with wide eyes and amazement. Research shows that people that take vacations and prioritize experiences over material items are happier and more successful overall. You should always strive to stretch your comfort zone and experience new things every day, and traveling is a great way to do that. That burning desire to see every corner of the earth is why I travel and chase new experiences.
4. Travel leads to success in your career
Have you ever been sitting at work wondering why you even bother to drive in each morning? Or felt so overwhelmed that you don’t even want to imagine making it through the rest of the week? That’s called needing a vacation. Traveling and taking time away from work prevents burnout. A recent study showed that when people used their vacation days every year, they were more likely to be promoted. Many millennials are afraid to take their vacation days out of loyalty to their company or desire to be promoted. Contrary to popular believe, the impact on your career is just the opposite.
Not to mention, your experiences abroad may contribute to success in your career. Some day, your company may have a German client that you’re able to relate to by sharing how much you enjoyed their home country. Or maybe your infatuation with Spain will help you learn a second language. Having unique experiences under your belt helps you work with and relate to a wider variety of people.
5. There is so much to see and learn
If you think that travel is all about planting yourself in a lounge chair on a beach, you are missing out on a world of experience. There is no better way to learn about history and culture than by experiencing it first hand. There are few things that make you feel alive like new experiences. I learned more about the Roman empire by visiting Italy than I ever did in 12 years of history classes. I’ll remember speed boating past Nazi forts in Guernsey more than I’ll ever remember anything I could buy. I hope that when I’m 90, I can look back on all the places that I saw instead of wishing I took the time to see them. That is why I travel.
As you live your life, you will look back fondly on experiences, not material items. Some of my favorite memories happened when traveling (and they are some of the most random details of trips). I always laugh about the time my brother and I had to beg to join a group tour in Dublin because we couldn’t get an Uber. It’s little mishaps abroad like missing a bus or pantomiming to a stranger that make travel so memorable and help us grow. The thrill that I get when I experience something new or grow a little bit is why I travel.
It is my hope that some of my adventures inspire a trip of your own! I hope you enjoyed reading. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments!