That time has come again to make our new year’s resolutions. A new year, a new you and you have a list of things you want to accomplish. More than likely you have getting healthy, spending less, etc. But did you add traveling to your resolutions? Traveling is one of the best ways to grow and discover more about yourself so why not make that a top priority? Here is why I think you should make traveling a part of your new year’s resolutions.
Travel on a budget
Unless you are some kind of millionaire, when you choose to travel you are doing so on a budget. You save up enough money to go to a place you have never been. You also have to pick and choose what is valuable enough to spend your money on while traveling. That kind of restraint and responsibility is something that is so hard to develop when you never have the fear of running out of money in a foreign country. You learn to utilize things that come cheap and value what you do spend your money on. When I lived in London, I didn’t spend so much money on any old food that I could find here in the states. Instead, I visited little corner shops and traveled around the city to check out new sites. I came to appreciate saving the receipts from places versus purchasing random things I didn’t really need. Later on, I would look back at all of the receipts from little restaurants I visited so that I could relive that memory. This is something I would never do from having just gone into Target.
It was being in a foreign country and knowing that each item I purchased had to be special to me because I couldn’t afford to spend money on just anything. This is an amazing trait to have because you learn the value of experiences over material things. This is an opportunity you are not afforded when you live in the same place and never see new things. Since living abroad, I have learned to be picky about what I surround myself with and what is actually worth spending money on.
Meeting new people
There is no way you can avoid meeting new people when traveling. It is literally impossible. If you need directions and can’t use your phone, what do you do? You ask somebody. If you’re looking for a place to eat, what do you do? You ask somebody. Even just sitting in a pub somewhere you may begin a conversation with someone (because drunk people love to talk). It is all part of the experience and you may come to find some lifelong friends. If not lifelong friends, you may find some amazing networking opportunities down the road. The people you fill your life with help you to grow so why not take the chance to meet people completely different than you. It will make you appreciate diversity and culture. You can grow so much from learning about other people and them learning about you. I can’t think of any other resolution that can help you do that.
When traveling to a foreign place, you typically will not have a car at your disposal. This forces you to use public transportation as a way to get around. The people you meet and the things you see while on public transportation will definitely change you. I was once on the train in Paris and out of nowhere a group of men started rapping in French. When would I ever have an opportunity like that? Or another time I was on the train in London at about 11 at night and an old war vet popped his eyeball out. These experiences can create some awesome experiences and help you to see all facets of the world that you would never get back at home.
Where you stay
One of the best places you can stay when traveling is in a hostel. Not only are they affordable but are also a hub for diversity. You meet so many people from all over the world and are able to share so many stories. Just sit in the common area for a bit and I can guarantee you will hear at least 4 different languages. Being able to be in that moment and absorb that much culture in one space is something you will never regret. Chatting with people from other places is in itself like traveling the world from their lives and stories. You also give them the chance to learn about you and where you come from. There is also something to learn about yourself when you are crowded into a room with a bunch of strangers. It is a beautiful and strange experience that must be lived.
Get out of your comfort zone
How can you ever truly get to know yourself if you continue to keep yourself in the same context? You can’t. Traveling pushes you out of your comfort zone and demands you to experience things you wouldn’t normally experience. You may come to learn that you are great at small talk when you are crammed into a hostel room with 6 other strangers. Or you may learn that you thrive under stress when you just missed the last train and are stranded in the countryside. These little experiences are what help to shape a person and truly show their character. This is what life is all about right? Learning who you are, developing and coming to love that person. You have to give yourself the chance though to experience it outside of your comfort zone. Who knows. You may be a pretty cool person outside your box.
You owe it to yourself to experience all this world has to offer in this lifetime. I hope that you are able to see all the wonderful things traveling can do for you and all the growth you can experience. Why wouldn’t you make that a part of your new year’s resolution?
-The Wandering Sunflower