Travel is one of life’s greatest teachers. It pulls you out of your comfort zone and plunges you into the unknown. It reveals a world of cultures to explore and people to meet. And it helps you develop virtues like patience and humility. So whether you explore a new neighbourhood or a new country, here are 13 of the best life lessons you can learn through travel.
1. To enjoy experiences over things
One of the greatest lessons you’ll learn through travel is that we need very little to be happy. And it’s not cars, phones or clothes that make us happy – it’s our experiences. A study published in the Journal of Psychological Science revealed that experiences provide more lasting happiness than material possessions. A 2018 Trafalgar study showed that 74% of people would rather have experiences over things. When you travel, you’ll form strong bonds with people, learn new skills and create lasting memories.
2. To leave your comfort zone and try new things
If you want to flourish in life, you must get out of your comfort zone and embrace the unknown. If you always stay in a well-worn routine, you’ll never truly expand your horizons. When you travel, you leave behind the familiar and take on a world of new things. You’re constantly learning through travel, with new cultures, friends, foods and languages. You may feel excitement or even fear, but usually never boredom… and it will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do.
3. To appreciate different cultures (and our similarities)
One of the best parts of travelling is experiencing different cultures. When you visit a new destination, you become immersed in a culture’s history, language, customs and cuisine. You’ll get to see famous landmarks like a historic temple or palace, take part in a traditional festival, eat at a local restaurant and even try speaking a few phrases. And as you explore the cultural differences, you may also come to find that we’re all not so different after all.
4. To be patient
Travelling teaches you not to sweat the small stuff. Whether you’re facing long lines at the airport or having trouble communicating in a foreign language, you’ll likely encounter many small frustrations on your journey. These little obstacles are a valuable lesson in patience, and at the end of your trip, you’ll be able to deal with almost anything.
5. How to make friends with strangers
When you’re learning through travel, you open yourself up to a world of human interaction. Whether you’re meeting fellow travellers on the road or swapping stories over a glass of wine with a local, you’ll find plenty of people are open to chatting. Strike up a conversation, and you might just make a new friend.
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6. To never take nature for granted
One of the best things about travel is exploring the natural beauty of the world. On the flip-side, you’ll also witness the fragility of our planet. You may visit destinations where clean drinking water is a luxury or where natural disasters have caused mass destruction. You may see forests disappearing, coral reefs dying, or glaciers melting before your eyes. When you travel, you learn to appreciate every natural wonder, every sip of clean water and every bite of healthy food.
7. To be spontaneous
You may be a rigid planner at home, but travel teaches you how to go with the flow. Your travel journey won’t always go to plan and when obstacles arise, you must embrace your impulsive side. Sometimes it’s better to let go of the schedule and take a spontaneous adventure. You never know what you may find, and that’s the beauty of it!
8. To appreciate the little things
We’re often so busy in our daily lives, we forget to appreciate the little things. When you travel, you take time to slow down and reflect on your experiences. You treasure the beauty of things we often take for granted, like watching the sunset, savouring a delicious meal, and cherishing your friendships. Travel teaches us it’s the little things that count.
9. To be humble
When you open yourself to learning through travel, you are often humbled. You’ll realise just how small your footprint is in our enormous world. You’ll understand how lucky you are and how much you may take for granted in your daily life. You may also often encounter acts of kindness and generosity from strangers who have far less than you. Travel quickly teaches the value of humility.
10. The importance of smiling
We always advise Trafalgar guests to learn a few phrases in the local language before travelling to a new destination. It allows you to communicate more easily with locals and can spark some wonderful interactions. But for the times when words fail, you can always count on a smile. A genuine smile is a universal communicator and expresses friendliness and gratitude. Travel teaches that you can never go wrong with a smile.
11. How to think outside the box
When you travel, there will always be bumps in the road. Anything can happen, from getting lost or getting sick, to dealing with lost luggage or flight delays. You’ll often need to deal with problems without getting completely stressed out. Travel teaches you how to think creatively and adapt to all sorts of situations.
12. You are capable
One of the most important lessons you learn through travel is that you are more capable than you thought. Travel teaches you confidence, independence and freedom. It boosts your self-awareness and your problem-solving skills. Travel shows you that you can navigate a foreign country, make new friends, and overcome difficult situations. When you realise how powerful you are, your travel journey becomes one of the most transformative experiences of your life.
13. You never stop learning
“When you stop learning, you start dying”Albert Einsten
Just because we’ve left school doesn’t mean our education stops. Learning keeps us young, and travel is one of the greatest teachers of all. Travel inspires a sense of wonder and discovery, and there’s an entire world of things to do and people to meet. You could explore a forest or walk down a new street. Try a different cuisine or learn about another culture. When you travel, you never stop learning.
What life lessons have you learned through travel? Let us know in the comments below.