There is one concept that is constantly sought after in each stage of life, and that is the ability to grow. In growth, we find new skills and abilities, joy, unique challenges, connection, and love. So where do we find this concept of growth? In the only place possible: outside of our comfort zone. The good news is that growth can develop anywhere; the better news is, it develops at an exponential rate when we are TRAVELING! And we’ll be happy to tell you how travel helps you grow.
When traveling to a place that is new to us, our environment becomes unpredictable, our critical thinking and problem-solving skills are tested, and we begin to grow. David Viscott, a scholar and writer, describes the benefit of being outside of the comfort zone perfectly, saying, “If you want to grow…go to the cutting edge of your competence, which means a temporary loss of security. So, whenever you don’t quite know what you are doing, know that you are growing….”
How does traveling help you grow? It takes away your familiarity, which makes room for personal development and self-growth.
What does traveling do for a person?
There are many different types of travel that will foster growth, like studying abroad, volunteering, teaching, and more. One unique choice that’s growing in popularity is taking a gap year. Gap year providers, like Winterline Global Education and others, aim to help you achieve more clarity in life, especially before big life transitions.
Students are choosing to take a gap year between high school and college, as well as between college and grad school or full time work, more frequently. Why is this awesome? Because traveling increases global awareness, improves communication skills, increases maturity and confidence, and ultimately creates a more well-rounded young professional.
Traveling also has health benefits which is another reason why taking a gap year of travel before a major transition is helpful! It decreases stress, lowers the risk of heart disease, encourages physical activity, and fosters creativity. Overall, the benefits of travel are unique to everyone, but we’ve broken down ten of our favorite ways travel will help you transform.
How travel changes your life
1. Develops intercultural competence
Traveling develops respectful and effective communication between people from different cultures (and the best gap year providers will help you develop this skill). It changes how we communicate as incredibly diverse nations. When traveling to a new country with a new first language, it is a humbling experience. It showcases the difficulty of learning a new language and helps one consider how hard so many people have worked to be able to learn new languages.
2. Deepens your sense of empathy
Becoming a foreigner in another country is a feeling one never forgets. It is easy to get lost, simple daily routines such as grocery shopping, using transportation or finding a restroom are new, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Upon returning home, the golden rule has never been so clear: treat others as you wish to be treated. Step in and help, show compassion, give out kindness when strangers seem confused. Kind gestures can make someone’s day whether it’s a traveler or a confused native.
3. Combats stereotypes
Traveling combats stereotypes in two ways. One, traveling opposes the untrue travel stereotypes that are spread: that traveling is unsafe, there is more theft, you’ll get sick from food, the list goes on and on. Traveling brings attention to unreasonable fears that exist and sheds light on the beauty of other countries. Secondly, traveling combats the stereotypes other countries have about tourists — that they are loud, impolite, entitled, prejudiced, wealthy, arrogant, etc. Travelers have an opportunity to show genuine curiosity and appreciation for new cultures.
4. Challenges your opinions
Traveling puts you in a vulnerable state with exposure to new histories, cultures, ideas, and people — and this is one of the ways that makes it obvious how travel helps you grow. Travel also pulls you out of your protected bubble, often surrounded by friends and family with similar ideologies. Speaking about your beliefs with people from different backgrounds creates engaging and challenging conversations that allow for critical thinking and questioning.
Travel can alter and challenge once-fixed opinions through the introduction of new information. It also has the ability to encourage oneself to research and learn more about what they believe, creating a more educated and open perspective.
5. Establishes lasting bonds
Traveling awakens a sense of openness and friendliness. It also provides an environment for strong bonds to form. New places have an interesting way of pulling people together who have a similar interest in exploring a new culture. Experiencing deep moments, inspiring conversations, and difficult scenarios create lasting bonds. Plus, hearing new perspectives and being able to have vulnerable conversations that challenge you, bring people together.
6. Develops patience
With unpredictability and unfamiliar surroundings come mistakes and unforeseen consequences. Yet, these experiences also provide growth and increase patience. Special moments and unforgettable conversations can come from missing a flight or waiting in line at a market, and these experiences showcase that patience creates a better outcome for all. Frustration will never speed up a scenario, but looking for the light in every experience could provide something meaningful.
7. Allows you to seek the truth
Still wondering how travel helps you grow? Think about how information is spread between nations — the news is the most common outlet. Unless you are someone who avidly researches other countries, it’s likely that your interactions with other cultures are limited to what you hear and see on the internet. If there is one thing we all can agree on, it’s that news outlets publish more negative than positive content.
Traveling allows you to find the truth about other nations. It gives you an opportunity to seek out the beauty that other countries possess. It allows you to form educated opinions about other nations and draws people closer together.
8. Opens you up to new skills and abilities
Traveling fosters a willingness to learn, and new cultures possess creativity that might spike your interest. Art, music, literature, and other activities such as yoga, hiking, swimming, singing, and more might be more common in new places, which gives you the confidence to try them. Studying abroad and participating in a gap year focus on the importance of learning new skills and abilities. This is where critical thinking is exercised and where your ability to take on new tasks with confidence grows.
9. Humbles you
Traveling plucks you from your world of routine and comfort, and drops you into a completely new environment. Your senses will be fully stimulated and you might be screaming to yourself, “I am so uncomfortable!” Ahhh, the perfect way to practice humility — a sphere where you don’t hold all the answers and you have to rely on things outside of your reach.
Traveling humbles you, forcing you to ask simple questions, listen intently, and to be kind and polite. It shows you that everything in life is learned, there is no innate superiority… a reminder we could all use.
10. Expands your confidence
After stunning you and forcing you to listen and ask questions, traveling expands your confidence in the best way. It allows you to see that being uncomfortable brings challenges and growth. What does traveling do for a person? It allows you to develop new and exciting skills and it gives you the confidence to continue to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, because you understand what you can gain from it.
New territory and things that were once fears don’t seem as scary anymore, and this sense of confidence can ultimately change your life and help you make decisions that create a snowball effect.
Why not learn for yourself how travel helps you grow?
Maybe you relate to ten out of ten of these reasons for how travel changes your life, or maybe you relate to only two of them. What’s important to note is that no matter where you go, you will learn and develop in completely different ways.
So, how does traveling help you grow? It provides you with unforeseeable challenges that you will either tackle or fail, but you will learn from both immensely. You will carry with you everything that you experienced while traveling, and you will be surprised how it contributes to your future.
Whether you encounter a woman from the same country you traveled to at the grocery store at home and begin to chat, or you hold onto experiences that are purely yours and flip through photos when you are feeling low, traveling will affect you throughout the rest of your life in the smallest — and sometimes most significant — ways.
And if you are going through a major life transition, who knows, you might choose to take a gap year and explore and develop a bit more before committing to something new. Best of all, traveling might just inspire you to go somewhere new and find a new dimension to yourself. GO FOR IT!