Compared to most people my age, I haven’t traveled much – at least not internationally. This may sound super privileged of me, expecting to be a world traveler at the young age of 21, but it’s a fact in the circle I live in.
My dad didn’t make it to a different continent until he was in his late 40s, and my mom has never left the country – besides a couple tropic vacations to the Caribbean islands. Nana and Grandpa, on the other hand, have traveled to every nook and cranny of the world it seems to me. But still, they didn’t begin their adventures until they were well into their 60s.
I wasn’t alive when my parents and grandparents were my age, but I can conclude that it was a lot less common for children, students, and recent graduates to be traveling as much as they do now. Today, almost every university encourages studying abroad and offers appealing programs that make the trips affordable and educational to young people. With the digital world we live in, applying to international internships and jobs has become a lot more accessible. Even the threat of homesickness has been dissuaded thanks to our ability to constantly communicate with people all over the globe.
We are definitely undergoing a shift in which people begin to travel at a much younger age. I’ve been all over the country, lived on both the East and West Coast, seen a few big cities in Canada, and made my way through a couple spots in Mexico and the Caribbean. While I think of my travel experience as limited, I know I’ve been to a hell of a lot more places than my parents, grandparents, and other adults did when they were my age.
So if I consider my travel experience so limited, why do I feel qualified to write about the supposed benefits of travel? Why do I feel qualified to encourage you to travel?
I’m here to tell you that despite my seemingly limited experience, I’m the farthest thing from limited when it comes to my gratitude for the traveling that I have done. And if I experience so much gratitude already in my travels, then I can only imagine how grateful people are who have stomped around Europe, and Asia, and South America, and anywhere else on this planet Earth.
Travel and gratitude are beautifully linked, in a marriage, let’s say. I find that whenever I travel – during and even after – I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness for the experience and perspective I’m gaining from the trip.
During this month of Thanksgiving when thankfulness is at the forefront of your mind, I challenge you to think about how your travels have impacted you, and what each trip and experience has made you appreciate. Follow below to hear some of mine.
Recognize Cultural Differences
Every state, country, and continent you go to will be different from the next. In many ways, we recognize these disparities and compare them to what we know. We may come to find that we like the food better at home than we do a couple states away, or perhaps we like the way people culturally socialize at home more so than in a different country. Big or small, we learn about cultural differences, and we grow grateful for the things back at home that seem to better rank those we’ve experienced during our travels.
Depending where you’re traveling, you may run into areas that are impoverished or underprivileged. Seeing this type of living firsthand makes you more aware of your privilege, and appreciative for the life you have.
Expand Personal Growth and Knowledge
Being away from home naturally pushes you outside your comfort zone. We all have different thresholds of comfort, but you’ll be challenged to do new things and think about new things wherever you go. You may just learn something about yourself that you never knew before.
Traveling somewhere with a lot of history allows you to see the world from a different perspective. You can gain an appreciation for the value of history and become more informed about why things were the way they were, and how that has translated into the modern world.
Visiting places with very strong cultures different than your own is an opportunity to learn global perspectives and become more cultured. Life is about growing and becoming the best we can be, and travel makes this type of growth quite convenient – hard not to be grateful for that.
Home, sweet home! How cliche. But really, we sometimes forget just how sweet our home really is until we leave it for an extended period of time. When we’re at home for so long, we get into our routines and all the joys our home brings us somehow get overshadowed by new, different happenings in our life that seem to stand out more. We become so used to our home life that it makes it difficult for us to gain an appreciation for it.
But when you live away for a week or two, you begin to realize just how warm and comforting it is to fall asleep and wake up in your own bed, and how much you enjoy making your dinner in your own kitchen.
In a way, I think that’s why we appreciate traveling so much. We realize that our trip isn’t going to last, so we try to take in every moment and be present. Traveling allows us to apply this perspective to our life at home, as well. We know our home isn’t going anywhere, but we’re able to step away and realize how much we missed the blanket of familiarity.
Just like Dorothy said – There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…
So, what do you say to this shift in travel ages? I think it’s a beautiful thing. The more people traveling, the more gratitude we have in our world. What do you think?
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