From a young age, I was always fascinated by different places and people. In elementary school, I would study maps and look through my atlas, picking out places I wanted to go when I was older. The idea of traveling the world is something many kids dream about, but for most youth in the U.S., traveling never becomes a reality.
I understand I am privileged in this sense; I had parents that valued travel and made sure to take my sister and I on as many excursions as possible. They showed us other cultures, planned a road trip and budgeted for meals along the way. These are skills that not everyone learns when they are young.
Now that I am older and have started traveling on my own, I am realizing how travel has completely changed my life in a positive way. There are countless ways traveling the world has changed me and has shaped me into the person I am today. This is what travel is for me.
Travel is Empathy.
The friendliness of strangers taught me to be compassionate. People who I had never met before would repeatedly go out of their way to help me out. The world is filled with lots of great people, and meeting new people makes you more empathetic to their plight, and other challenges they may go through that you would have been unaware of before. Travel has opened mind and my heart to the world.
Travel is connection.
Traveling has improved my social skills and given me confidence in making connections with total strangers. Meeting tons of new people every day has turned me into the confident person I’d always dreamed of being.
Travel is empowering.
My first time travelling alone gave me confidence I was lacking in my daily life. I returned home with a better attitude and new outlook on my direction in life. I became the leader by planning weekend trips and eventually taking solo journeys -- truly making every decision for myself. This world is so big, I have learned you can go and do anything you want.
Travel is communication.
Travel is all about making decisions and communicating with those around you. From planning your trip to making a last-second change in a foreign city, you are completely in control of your journey. I have learned how to communicate my wants and needs better to those around me by traveling and learning how to communicate in foreign cities and with people I don’t share a common language.
Travel is new ideas.
Travel changes your perspectives. We all have unique stories and perspectives on the world depending on where you grow up. Traveling challenges those perspectives, making you more understanding of different lifestyles and worldviews. Learning how people view your country challenges you to look at your own personal stances, and understand why other people may feel differently about a topic or event than you do.
Travel is change.
The world would be a better place if we all left our comfort zones and experienced another culture. Although not everyone has this opportunity, we can learn from those around use by being accepting to cultures in our home country that do things differently than you do. There is no end to things to do and see and learn. Find something you’re passionate about and go for it!
I still have a lot to learn and a lot of places to go. But I think that I’m better for my travels and I will keep pursuing them. It’s true what they say, travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.