Going travelling can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of somebody’s life. Setting off to spend time living in other countries exposes you to so many things you likely haven’t been exposed to before. Apart from the photo opportunities that seem to dominate many people’s travels in the age of Instagram, there are many other great benefits to travelling, just a few of which we’re going to mention here.
Learn new languages
Unless you travel to a country where only your native language is spoken, the greatest benefit you can reap is the opportunity to learn a new language. For native English speakers, there is often a temptation to not speak any other language, as pretty much wherever you go in the world, especially in major cities, English tends to be spoken. However, I believe this is a very ignorant way to go about things, and that everybody should make an effort to learn the language of the country they’re in.
It would be ridiculous to expect somebody to become fluent in the languages of each country they travel to, especially if they are only spending a few days or weeks in each country before hopping on to the next one. But even if this is the case, it’s very easy to learn the basics, such as greeting words and please and thank yous. As well as it being a good sign of respect, you are also likely to get treated a lot better by the local people. They might laugh at your pronunciation and the mistakes you make, but they’ll appreciate that you’ve made the effort as they’ll have met so many people who haven’t bothered with their language.
On top of all of this, it will be extremely enriching for you to learn a new language and to practise it in the country where it is spoken. Whether you start learning the language before you set off or only start once you get there, learning a new language is an extremely fun experience, and you’ll feel much more in touch with the country you’re in if you learn some of their language.
Become more culturally aware
We hear about other countries all of the time on the news and through the entertainment industry, and these snippets make up our opinion of these places, including prejudices and negative opinions we might have. Travelling to a country and seeing the day-to-day life there, as cliché as it sounds, really opens your eyes and allows you to become much more aware of the world and less judgemental of people.
I’m not blaming people at all here. To form an opinion of a place, you can only use the information that is available to you, but this can lead to a lot of blanket judgement of whole cultures or nations that isn’t at all true. A great example for me is when I travelled to Colombia. Before I went, everybody was telling me to be careful because they’d heard it was really dangerous out there. But most of these people had “heard” this from watching ‘Narcos’ on Netflix, without the opinion coming from experience.
Of course, once I arrived in Colombia I had an amazing time. The people there were incredibly friendly and I had a pretty problem-free time. There were some issues here and there, but in which country aren’t there issues going on?
You also learn a lot about the culture of a country that you can’t learn without going and living there for a while. You learn so much about the people, why they do the things they do and what’s important to them, and it’s very enriching to be able to compare this to your own culture. You’ll find things which you love about different cultures, which you can start to incorporate into your own life. I think a lot of people would find such an experience extremely useful.
Become more self-aware
Travelling, whether by yourself or with friends or family, will teach you a lot about yourself. It will be such a foreign experience that you’ll be completely out of your comfort zone, which will show you a lot about yourself that you might not be aware of.
The aspects of your personality that are highlighted will be both positive and negative, but for sure you will learn a lot. You’ll find out certain things you are good at that you might not have known before, and in what situations you thrive. This is great because it can lead to the discovery of new hobbies and passions that could last for the rest of your lifetime, or to you stepping into a role which you might not have thought about before that suits you perfectly.
But you’ll also discover some things that you’re really bad at, and in which situations your best self doesn’t show up. Many people might see this as a bad thing because their flaws will be exposed. However, this is one of the most useful experiences you can have. By unveiling these negatives, you’ll be able to work on them and work towards becoming a better person in the future. Without going through this, these negatives might come out at a different time that may lead to worse outcomes.
Make new friends
When travelling, you are going to meet people there is no chance you would’ve met if you’d stayed at home. People who have had completely different upbringings to you and grown up in completely different environments.
Like I was saying before, this will give you deep insights into completely different cultures and make you much more of a well-rounded person. By staying in the country you were born in, you are going to be surrounded by people who have had very similar upbringings to you and known the same things as you do, which doesn’t provide much variety to your life, and in certain areas will mean you don’t get differing opinions on a topic. Having friends who look at things from a different viewpoint will help you develop as a person, and hopefully, you will allow them to develop at the same time.
Become more minimalist
Especially if you are moving between different countries, it’s completely impractical to move around with a huge suitcase containing all of your gadgets, makeup and various flashy outfits. You have to cut some things out, and this is a great experience to have because it shows you what things are necessary and what things you could do without.
In a consumerist society in which everybody is always looking for the next thing to buy even if they don’t need it, we need more people who are not overspending and over-purchasing things that will just sit in their house and only get used now and again. Travel helps you become much more minimalist and resourceful out of necessity, but this quality is likely to become ingrained in you in the future too.
If you weren’t already really keen to go travelling, I hope this has increased your desire to go and live abroad and see for yourself how life-changing an experience it can be. When you do, I urge you to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the country you are in, whether this be Canada, Perú or Ethiopia, as only in this way will you learn the most from the experience and also be able to give as much as possible to the countries that you are visiting, rather than just taking from them.