Posted: 03/18/2013 | March 18th, 2013
People always ask how travel has changed me. If I look back at who I was before I began traveling and compare that to who I am now, I would have to say that travel has made me a better and more well-rounded person. I’m way cooler now than I was at 25 when I first left to explore the world.
Simply put, I’m a lot more awesome now than I used to be.
In fact, I think travel makes everybody a more awesome person. We end our travels way better off than when we started. I’m not saying this to be conceited or egotistical; I’m saying it because I believe that travel is something that makes you not only a better human being but a way cooler one too. The kind of person people gravitate toward and want to be around.
You become like the Dos Equis guy.
How and why does travel make you more awesome? Let me count the ways:
1. More social – It’s sink or swim on the road. You either get better at making friends or you end up alone, crying each night into a pillow. You learn to make friends out of strangers and get more comfortable talking to new people. When I first started traveling, I was kind of an introvert and uncomfortable talking to those I didn’t know. Now, I’ll happily talk to strangers like we’ve been best friends for years.
2. Better at conversation – Travel not only makes you comfortable talking to strangers, it makes you better at it too. After talking to people all the time, the same questions get boring. You start to even bore yourself. After a while, you don’t care about where people are from, where they are going, how long they’ve been traveling, and yada yada yada. Those kinds of questions don’t actually tell you anything about the person. You’ll get better at small talk and how to ask interesting questions — the ones that matter and tell you more about the person.
3. More confident – You’ve traveled the world. Hiked Mt. Everest. Dived the Great Barrier Reef. Wined and dined that beautiful French girl in Paris, navigated unknown cities, and conquered your fear of heights. In short, you did awesome things. How can you not be more confident? How can you not be sure about your abilities? After accomplishing so much, you’re going to feel a lot more confident in your ability to achieve anything you set your mind to.
4. More adaptable – You’ve dealt with missed flights, slow buses, wrong turns, delays, bad street food, and much, much more. After a while, you learn how to adapt your plans to changing situations. You don’t get mad, you don’t get angry; you just alter what you are doing and move on. Life throws you curve balls and you hit them out of the park. Why? Because you’re awesome like that.
5. More adventurous – When you become confident in your ability to do anything, you do anything. Last week in Austin, Texas, despite not liking spicy food, I ate the world’s hottest pepper and some pure capsicum extract. Why? Because I wanted to. What’s the purpose of life if not to break out of your comfort zone? My mouth was on fire for ages, but I’d do it again.
6. More easy-going – All those mistakes? They did something else for you, too. They made you more easy-going and relaxed. Why? Because you’ve dealt with all those errors and you don’t care. You go with the flow now, because if travel taught you anything, it’s that it all works out in the end and that there’s no need to stress.
7. Sexier – Stress causes aging. Those carefree, relaxing days on the road are going to make you more confident and radiant, and you’ll age slower. You’ll look young and sexy. Unless you are George Clooney, who definitely got better with age.
8. Smarter – Unless you sit at a resort drowning your brain in frozen drinks, travel will teach you about the world. You’ll learn about people, history, and culture, and arcane facts about places some people could only dream about. In short, you’ll have a better understanding about how it works and how people behave. That’s something that can’t be learned from books; you can only pick it up with on-the-road experience.
9. Less materialistic – On the road, you learn just how little stuff you actually need. You’ll realize that all that crap they sell at the mall is pretty useless in leading a truly happy life. Coming home, you’ll find yourself a minimalist simply because you realize what you need to live and what you don’t. As they say, the more you own, the more it owns you.
10. Happier – Travel simply teaches you how to be happy. You’ll become more relaxed, more confident, and see the world as a brighter place. How can you not be happy about life after all of that?
Think about all the famous, successful people in the world. How many of these qualities do those people exhibit? A lot. Why? Because being outgoing, funny, social, happy, confident, and smart are all qualities that make people more successful in everyday life.
Travel makes people better people. When you learn more about the world and the people in it, push your boundaries, and try new things, you become a more open, outgoing, and awesome person. All the people I’ve known who have traveled are better people because of it.
With all the ways a trip can make you more of an awesome person, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be planning your next adventure now — whether it’s around the world or just a short, two-week vacation to Mexico.
You can sit at home, wishing you were somewhere exotic, having fun, and doing something cool.
Or you can listen to Kid President, stop being boring, and do something awesome:
The choice is yours.
Want some more inspiration? Check out these must-read posts:
- 18 Lessons from 5 Years Around the World
- Why Tomorrow Is Too Late
- Why Cynics like Bob are Wrong About Everything
- How Michael Saved $14k in 6 months
- Everyone says I’m Running Away (this site’s most popular post!)
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
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