Last Updated: 5/10/22 | May 10th, 2022
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, more well-rounded person. I’m way cooler now than I was at 25 when I first left to explore the world. I am more confident and sure of myself.
And that’s because I went traveling and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. This allowed me to find out who I was as a person, because I kept getting to try new versions of myself without the worry about what people at home might think.
Simply put, I’m a lot more awesome than I used to be.
In fact, I think travel makes everybody more awesome. We end our journeys way better off than when we started. We grow, we learn, we gain perspective. It’s a powerful personal development tool.
I’m not saying this to be conceited or egotistical; I’m saying it because I genuinely 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. Travel makes you 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 hostel dorm pillow. You have learn how 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 people I didn’t know. Now, I’ll happily talk to strangers like we’ve been best friends for years.
And that’s because, after a while, you just want to talk to people, so you turn to the person next to you in the hostel bar and say “hi.” Then you realize it’s not so scary and keep doing it until you’re a natural.
2. Travel makes you 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. Sure, you’ll get better at small talk, but more importantly, you’ll discover how to ask interesting questions — the ones that matter and can kick-start meaningful conversations.
3. Travel makes you more confident – You’ve been all over the world. You’ve hiked Mt. Everest, went diving at 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. Travel makes you more adaptable – You’ve dealt with missed flights, slow buses, wrong turns, annoying 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. Travel makes you more adventurous – When you become confident in your ability to do anything, you’ll do anything. Years ago in Austin, 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. Travel makes you 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 countless errors, and you learned to not be bothered by them. 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. Travel makes you 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. (I have no proof this is true, but I like to think I’m sexy, so I’m adding this for me!)
8. Travel makes you 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, culture, and arcane facts about bucket-list destinations most people only dream about. You’ll have a better understanding of how the world works and how people behave because of all the walking tours you do, people you meet, and sights you see. You can read all the books you want but, until you see the world, you’ll never really “get it.”
9. Travel makes you 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. Once 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. Travel makes you happier – Travel reminds us 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 enjoying a beautiful sunset in French Polynesia or spotting wildlife on safari in South Africa?
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 versions of themselves. 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 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 two-week vacation close to home. Because even if you have no money, you can still travel.
It all comes down to choice. Of course, privilege plays its part, but travel has never been easier or more accessible than it is today.
So, do you want to sit at home wishing you were somewhere exotic and living life to the fullest?
Or do you want to listen to Kid President, stop being boring, and actually do something awesome?
The choice is yours — but I think you should go out and travel and become the awesome person you are meant to be.
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. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being 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 it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and 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. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to travel for free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation. They are what keep me traveling so much for so little. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.