Travel has a unique way of exposing us to experiences that create a mental shift within us that you just can’t find by any other means. Here are some ways travel helps stimulate inner growth!
What is it about travel that propels us towards change and improvement?
Perhaps it’s because as we explore, our eyes are opened to a more appealing lifestyle that we’d like to try for ourselves. Maybe we’ve been impacted by a new culture or religion that we’d like to get immersed in.
As we travel, we are constantly stepping outside of our comfort zones, pushing ourselves to really live in the different, unique destinations we travel to. We return home feeling like a new and improved version of ourselves because we’ve experienced things that have enabled us to grow.
If we continue to seek out unfamiliar surroundings, meet new people, and tackle uncertainty head-on, we will no doubt begin to notice a change within ourselves over time. An open mind will get you very far on your travels! It will help you remain receptive to change as you soak it all in, effectively stimulating inner growth along the way.
Here are some ways you can let the travel bug teach you a thing or two not only about the world but about yourself. Travel is a tool for making us better.
14 Ways Traveling Stimulates Inner Growth
1. Travel is the greatest teacher
It’s one thing to learn about a place through devoted study of the best travel guides, maps, blogs, and other travel media, but nothing beats actually setting foot there. When you have the opportunity to explore a new destination, you come face-to-face with a new culture that presents new challenges that your brain hasn’t faced before.
Problem-solving in a new country is the best way to immerse yourself in a new culture on a personal level, which forces you to learn and grow at a fast pace. You’re able to connect with the locals, pick up on new languages, dive into the history of the area, and alter your perspective for the better.
Travel is a pure form of education as it has the unique ability to teach new travelers by thrusting them out of their comfort zones and giving them a first-hand experience of the unknown. After all, the best way to learn is by doing!
2. Challenges start to look more like opportunities
Traveling is no easy task! The unfamiliar customs, language barriers, and stressful act of navigating public transport are all difficult to get used to in a new destination.
Figuring out some of these new challenges is often a rewarding experience. Any small win on the road is a big win for the brave traveler. The odds are stacked against us when we travel, and overcoming those odds boosts our confidence and helps us overcome even more than we thought we could.
Sure, you’ll meet your fair share of failures while exploring the globe. Once you start to see those failures as chances to learn and do better, any obstacle you meet will become less of a threat and more of an opportunity to grow.
It’s human nature to adapt, persevere, and survive under pressure, which teaches our brains to discover better ways to solve problems. Soon, travel becomes second nature to us and we can return from each trip knowing we have become more creative and fearless.
3. You experience a dramatic shift in perspective
Nothing will open your eyes to just how small you are in the world more than travel. Becoming detached from your comfort zone and leaving the little corner of the world you inhabit can be a very humbling experience.
You will quickly come to realize that your problems aren’t so bad compared to the issues other countries face on a daily basis. It’s important to address the culture shock you encounter with empathy as you take time to reflect and reassess your values.
Seeing how other cultures thrive challenges any preconceived ideas you may have about their lifestyle. You are able to appreciate their way of life, embrace cultural differences, and at the same time, be more thankful for your own community and roots.
4. You’re able to connect with yourself and others better
Traveling to a new country, especially if you’re traveling the world alone, can be a daunting task that can make you feel isolated and alone. That’s why it’s important to get out there and make connections with people, whether you’re looking for guidance or just need a travel companion to keep you company on your adventure.
Engage with the locals at lively events or foodie hot spots, spend a few nights in a hostel to get to know other travelers and swap stories with them, or travel with friends to get to know them better.
Work exchange is a great way to connect with your local community (and yourself!) while traveling. In exchange for a few hours of each day, you’ll receive free accommodation and other benefits. Worldpackers offers opportunities to work in hostels, schools, NGOs, permaculture projects, eco-villages, holistic centers, and more. This is truly a great way to learn new skills abroad while having the support of a local, collaborative community behind you.
If you want to travel as a means to connect more deeply to yourself and the world around you, I highly recommend learning more about the Worldpackers travel experience.
5. “The people you meet create the paradise you find.” — Robin Esrock
Try to interact instead of being a bystander; open yourself up to make friends while traveling! You never know what you’ll be invited to or what insider tips you might not find elsewhere.
Chances are the people you meet will share a meaningful or unique experience with you and you’ll end up having the time of your life with some awesome memories to bring back as souvenirs.
Don’t forget to smile as much as much as you can so you are more approachable and friendly. One little smile can go a long way!
6. Travel cultivates a growth mindset
Some live their lives with a fixed mindset, meaning they never seek new learning experiences, are content with the skills they currently possess, and are threatened by change or the success of others. On the other hand, if you strive to live with a growth mindset, you believe your skills and intelligence grow with effort. With this mindset, you are always seeking new learning opportunities to broaden your talents, embrace challenges, and see failure as a stepping stone toward improvement.
Travel is directly tied with the growth mindset because you are thrust into a completely new environment where learning is mandatory. Especially if you’re traveling long-term, living in a new country means adapting is necessary to get by.
Change itself keeps our brain in a healthy, plastic state so that we’re able to learn and retain more over time. The world is ever-changing, which means we must change along with it, evolving and growing all the time.
Traveling as often as possible is the perfect way to cultivate that growth mindset, effectively keeping our minds open, fueling our curiosity, and helping us stay prepared for whatever life throws our way.
7. You improve your communication skills
If you strive to interact with locals and other travelers while you wander, you will end up developing better social skills. Being able to strike up a conversation with a total stranger will eventually become one of your strong suits if you travel a lot.
This is good news for introverts who need a little extra practice! Plus, it’s really fascinating to learn from others’ experiences, hear what inspires them, and listen to travel tales!
8. Experiences are greater than things
Now more than ever, people are gifting experiences to their loved ones as opposed to merchandise or material things. Experiences can leave an imprint on a person for an entire lifetime, while the “stuff” we accumulate just gives us a temporary sense of satisfaction. That feeling will soon fade, and we begin to find ourselves trying to replace that lost feeling with yet another shiny new toy.
Travel isn’t merely a thing, but a lifestyle shift that you open yourself up to in order to receive some form of enlightenment. The more you travel, the more you’ll embrace the minimalist travel mindset. Essentially, you’ll realize what’s important to you and be better able to cut out some things out of your life that don’t measure up.
Travel is the perfect way to begin collecting loads of memories and ditch the dead weight that might be holding you back from leading a fulfilling life.
9. You learn how to be more present
“Travel is like a good, challenging book: it demands presentness — the ability to live completely in the moment, absorbed in the words or vision of reality before you.” — Robert Kaplan
Sometimes we get so excited to conquer new experiences and make lasting memories of them that we forget to savor them as they are happening. For some of us, travel is an escape from our extremely busy lives, but what’s the point of escaping that lifestyle only to travel with an equally busy itinerary?
Embracing slow travel is essential for soaking up your experiences so that you can record your memories in more depth, focusing on the little details that made the destination so special to you. While traveling, your main focus is to absorb your new surroundings and try new things rather than thinking about the future!
Seek to deepen your connections with the people you meet and the places you visit, sit down and take time to meditate or people-watch, and keep a structured light itinerary. You’ll eventually learn to appreciate the present and in turn, better appreciate the memories you create.
10. Adapting to change becomes easier
Sometimes travel can be very spontaneous and you may have to change up your itinerary at the drop of a hat. Travel heightens your awareness of what’s going on around you, and the more you plan for, the more you have to be prepared for. This is a great skill to have if you’re always on the go and need a backup plan to resort to in case your plans don’t work out.
Traveling is about venturing into the great unknown. It helps eradicate any fears you may have of what you cannot control and you are better able to embrace the unfamiliar with an open mind. Repeatedly exiting that pesky comfort zone will help you adapt to change more easily and soon you’ll be welcoming it into your life as a healthy opportunity to grow!
11. You gain a deeper understanding of different cultures, values, religions, and ways of life
The world is diverse and filled with amazing people who practice different beliefs and lifestyles than you do. Travel opens the door that takes you on the path toward understanding these differences better and appreciating them for what they are.
Approaching a new country with an open mind and a caring heart is guaranteed to help you fully absorb what another culture has to offer. Who knows, you might find a new favorite dish to make at home, adopt certain values into your life that you admire, or fall in love with the culture as a whole.
Our perspectives are widened when we travel, and this contributes greatly to our personal inner growth. When we see the good in the world we are more compelled to do good ourselves. Becoming better individuals is a small but necessary step towards becoming better as a human race.
12. You develop more confidence and learn to embrace independence
You can do it! The more cool activities and meaningful experiences you check off your bucket list, the more power you’ll gain over your self-doubts.
Slowly but surely, you’ll begin to realize that you’re racking up experience points in the realm of travel, and you can plan your schedule with freedom and confidence. Traveling solo can help especially with cultivating that sense of fearlessness because you have to rely on your own travel know-how to get through your trip.
The more you travel, the more comfortable you’ll get with living independently.
13. Travel teaches you how to grow from adversity
Contrary to popular belief, travel isn’t always the beautiful, carefree experience we expect. This is why it’s important to be prepared for anything life may throw your way so that when a challenge arises, you know how to turn it into a learning experience.
Some have medical emergencies while abroad. You could miss your flight and get stuck in an airport for an eternity or run out of food on a backpacking trip. You never know what could happen, despite your efforts to plan for every outcome!
When a troubling situation such as this arises, those who are resilient and determined enough will walk away from their hardship transformed. Patience and a clear head will help you get through these difficult circumstances and teach you a hard-earned lesson, which you’ll be able to apply to other challenges you may face in the future.
Inner growth occurs when, despite being knocked down by the challenges we face, we choose to get back up again and progress.
14. You ditch your comfort zone and become a “yes man”
Say “no” to saying no! Travel is all about trying new things.
If you can’t banish your comfort zone for at least some portions of your trip, your growth will come to an abrupt halt. That doesn’t mean you have to say “yes” to everything, you just have to participate in those things you know will teach you something new or give you a broader perspective.
Your comfort zone is that little voice that creates excuses for things you can’t or won’t do. The act of traveling itself means that you don’t mind stepping out of your comfort zone and everything you’re used to behind in order to see the world.
Try to actively pop that comfort zone bubble! Take risks, ride public transit, overcome fears, eat street food, meet new people, and say “yes” to more opportunities that present themselves to you.
You’d be surprised at how liberating you’ll feel after accomplishing something you never thought you would. It gives you room to grow, boosts your confidence, gives you courage, and gives you that validation you need to go out and do hard things.
Let travel eradicate those excuses once and for all.
As you embark on your next big adventure, remember to stay present and record your thoughts and memories as often as you can! Not only will you be able to look back on them fondly, but you can track your progress to see how much you’ve grown as time goes on. Write down your goals, what you’d like to learn, or what knowledge you were able to glean on your trip.
I hope you use this article to inspire you to plan your next trip and get out there. Immersing yourself in a different country may seem scary at first, but you’ll be amazed at the new skills you’ll pick up, and the deep insight you’ll gain, and you’ll be able to turn your attention inward as you self-evaluate how your experiences have enriched your life.
You’ll be a savvy traveler in no time! Let your inner growth spurts shine through to serve as evidence that travel is truly life-changing.
“Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad of new sights, smells, and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.” — Ralph Crawshaw