Do you ever feel like in you are in a rut? Like you are stuck in a particular way of thinking, feeling, or behaving? You feel as if each day is exactly the same, and your life is a treadmill going nowhere. You lack creativity and new ideas are so hard to come by. So you find solace and change in mindless entertainment, drugs, alcohol…
There is a remedy.
It’s not a magic pill, a new self-help book, or a new exercise machine. It’s something that is available to all of us. Something that is right there, waiting for us to explore. It is the Earth, and the experience of it through TRAVEL.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to travel. So much so I’ve built my life around it, producing a project called Banjo Earth that leads me around the world in the exploration of music and culture. I’m even sitting in Sao Paulo, Brazil right now writing this article!
I’m not rich. I don’t have a private plane or a yacht. Traveling around the world doesn’t require that much money. It just requires becoming a priority in your life. You must plan, save money, and structure some things at home that facilitate these experiences.
And for me, it’s more than worth it! The benefits I get out of traveling far outweigh the costs. When you are lying on your deathbed, will you remember the shows you watched on Netflix, the nights drinking at your local bar? Or will you remember the amazing experiences you encountered while exploring this magnificent, beautiful, culturally rich planet? For me, the answer is clear.
Traveling can do so much for your mind and spirit. The benefits are difficult to fully quantify, but I’ll give my best effort. Here are the Top 10 ways travel can improve your life:
- New Patterns of Thought – Experiencing different cultures allows you to see how different people do things differently. Things you took for granted you will see done in new ways. This allows you to break out of your typical thought patterns and begin looking at the world with a fresh perspective.
- The Breaking Down of The Walls That Divide Us – If you watch a lot of news, you will get numerous reasons why we are so different, what separates us and the way we think, and all the myriad reasons why we should be suspicious and fearful of each other. That all comes crashing down with travel. Very soon, you begin to find that we are all human beings, doing our best to survive and thrive in this life. Humans want to be safe, enjoy love and joy, and do work that fulfills them. This is so clear when you experience a culture different from yours.
- Problem Solving Skills – Even if you are a concise planner, or a bit of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants traveler like I am, you will run into obstacles, guaranteed. Travel requires you to stay calm, figure out a solution, and even ask for help sometimes. And when you are in a place where you don’t speak the language, this can be quite an adventure. The skills and attitudes you develop to approach problems and their solutions while traveling can be invaluable.
- Appreciating Beauty – You will undoubtably see some of the most beautiful places and things you have ever seen. Soak it up, enjoy it. Take mental pictures. Take real pictures. These places will leave impressions and feelings in your heart that will last forever.
- Boosting Your Senses – While traveling you will taste, hear, see, and touch things you’ve never experienced. Sometimes they will be unpleasant, but most often they will be surprisingly delightful. When you have a bowl of Tom Yum soup in a back alley of Bangkok, or a fresh nan bread from the tandoori oven in a New Delhi street, you will be changed forever.
- Tapping Into Your Primal Self – Would you like to feel the primal nature and immediacy of experience as an animal in the jungle? Completely alive? Travel to a country with a culture and language very different from yours. You become hyper-aware of everything. You watch out for potential dangers, you observe other people, plants, and animals with intense curiosity, and your senses become super acute. For me, this feeling of aliveness is one of my very favorite aspects of traveling.
- Breaking Routine – Do you have habits and activities that you do every day? Do you take the same route to work, or stop at the same coffee shop every day for breakfast? Perhaps you watch TV at the same time every night, or eat the same dinner on the same night of the week. Some habitual activities, like working out or meditating can be great disciplines. But others, as the ones mentioned above, can drag down your energy and excitement for life. Because when you travel, you’re never quite sure what’s around each corner, it’s a great way to break your patterns and get you moving, thinking, and feeling in different ways.
- Relaxation – When many people think of travel, they think of vacation. Flying to a beautiful resort in Cancun and having all you can drink margaritas while sun bathing in your bathing suit can be quite relaxing and rejuvenating. And this is vitally important to maintain a healthy and balanced life. But, personally, I love to couple it with some exciting adventures. For example, not far from Cancun is an ancient Mayan ruin site full of pyramids and sacrificial altars called Chichen Itza. A few days of relaxing in Cancun coupled with a fun adventure to the Mayan ruins makes for a great mix of relaxation and cultural experience.
- Language Learning – Most psychologists will agree that learning a new language is one of the best things you can do for mental health. It challenges and stretches the brain in ways that are so deep and ancient. As you travel to different places, learning some of the language can be a deeply gratifying experience. Even saying “please” and “thank you” get such a reaction from people. And of course, learning phrases like “where is the bathroom” and “could I have a beer, please” can be lifesavers!
- Physical Health – If you are not in peak physical condition already, traveling can have some great effects on improving your physical health. You will most likely be doing a lot of walking, carrying luggage, eating different foods, drinking a lot of water, etc. Your mood will be uplifted, which will also affect your health in a positive way. Taking some hikes and sightseeing adventures on foot will improve your conditioning as well. Don’t be surprised when, upon returning home after a wonderful voyage, you feel and look much healthier.
There are so many more beautiful things that come from travel, but I’ll let you fill in the rest of your own list. This is beautiful planet we get to call home. It’s full of amazing people, cultures, foods, music, and nature, all just waiting for you to explore it. So pack your bags, lace up your shoes, get your tickets, and get traveling. Your body, mind, soul, and spirit will thank you. Bon voyage!
Andy Eversole, Banjo Earth