Travel is a wonderful thing: no one can debate that. Many people dream of seeing foreign lands and being able to physically touch a place that is far away from them by distance, culture, environment, and sometimes language. Our best vacations, our dreamiest goals, and our fondest memories, are spent traveling. Aside from the occasional lost luggage on a budget airline, travel almost always lives up to expectation.
In addition to the natural yearnings, travel has many concrete and quantifiable benefits. As someone who works in a college study abroad office, I could list them off to you in nice and neat bullet points as I do every day. What is your aim: Personal? Academic? Professional? Are you looking to gain language skills? Time management skills? Take a hard class somewhere easy? Build your resume?
Well, that’s not what this article is about, so you’ll have to ask your own study abroad office.
I’ll say it again, because everyone these days is enthused beyond belief by infectious wanderlust. Tumblr blogs, Pinterest boards, Instagram accounts: all dedicated to travel photos that we look at when we should be probably be doing anything else.
So what is it about travel that is so magical?
After all, every place is really just another place we might or might not have been to. We are all just people. Dagobert D. Runes is quoted as saying, “People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.”
Doesn’t that sound sad?
But it’s exactly the point… (Although in a happier way, I promise.)
Every second of every day, your brain is moving approximately a million miles an hour to keep you alive and functioning. (And yes, that’s an absolutely scientific estimate.) The human brain processes so much on a daily basis that, in order to not overload the conscious mind, you only notice things that are different. It’s an evolutionary trait to notice what’s different, because in the good ol’ caveman days, what was different was much more likely to kill you.
We move through our lives and routines sometimes like zombies. We do the same things day in and and day out so that we no longer notice anything or anyone after awhile. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It loses interest to us.
And that’s why we travel.
When we go to another place with different people, different culture, different environment and language, we notice it all. We live each simple day doing similar things – eating, walking, talking, looking – but living them to the fullest because we are actively interested in everything that is new and different.
We travel to live in the moment.
So if you’re feeling bogged down in life, know that nothing can clear your mind, ease your stress levels, or put your problems in perspective quite like travel can.
Go somewhere. Go anywhere. Cheap, expensive, near, far, foreign, hot, cold… It doesn’t matter. Just go somewhere you want to be and be there. Because being there, alive in the moment, is the simplest thing travel can do for you.