As a travel junkie, my friends are never surprised when I encourage (or nag) them to leave our hometown of Buffalo, NY. Traveling has positively impacted my life in countless ways and I want other people to share these experiences. But I don’t expect everyone to be willing to choose the same lifestyle as me (one where I’m either saving money or spending it in far-away countries) so instead I tell them that they can simply take “little trips” where they can still reap many of the same benefits.
I firmly believe that whether someone is from a big city or small town, they can benefit from leaving that place behind for a few days, weeks or months. Here are just some of the positives I’ve experienced as a result of traveling:
1. Something to look forward to.
Trips of any kind involve some amount of planning. Simple acts of planning like putting money aside, booking a ticket, packing, and arranging time off of work not only serve to make you more organized, but they also remind you of your travel goal. This gives you something to look forward to, which can improve your overall mood. Also, as your trip gets closer and all the details get sorted out, you will feel a sense of accomplishment that you made something you wanted to happen into a reality.
You know your way to work or school like the back of your hand, but how do you fare when dropped off on a street corner you’ve never seen before? What do you do when you’re friends and family aren’t around or you don’t have your day planned out the way it is at home? The ambiguities brought up by a change in setting can be seen as a personal test in your adaptability. It’s no stretch to say that it gives you skills that can help you in other areas of life.
3. Find new opportunities.
Even if you love your hometown, it’s likely that there are some things you don’t like about it, or just that there are some things that are missing. Maybe you’ll find those things when visiting in a new place. You could network at a swanky bar on the Lower East Side and find that dream job you thought didn’t exist. Or you could just realize that your hometown needs more frozen yogurts shops.
4. Learn more about yourself.
This can happen through positive and negative experiences while traveling. Being a self-declared “city person” I always heard NYC calling my name and spent a lot of time wondering how I was going to make it there. During my last visit, I realized it wasn’t necessarily the place for me and I was able to let go of a lot of those “what if” feelings I had about moving there. Some people find that they don’t get very much out of traveling at all and prefer to stay put, but even then, its better to know that for sure.
5. The Travel High
Like I said, I’m a travel junkie, so I personally experience an overwhelming high any time I’m away. I love airports, being able to fit everything I own in two suitcases and a backpack, trains, buses, boat rides, tiny shampoo bottles and crashing on couches or in hostels. To me it feels like living on-the-go is the way to be and I think a lot of people who take trips feel the same. Even if you find these things unpleasant, you probably still end up feeling like all the photos and stories made it worth it.
6. Appreciate what’s at home more.
Buffalo is city I love to hate. Or hate to love. I’m not really sure. Either way I know that when I’m there I’m plotting my next escape, but the second I leave, I think of all the things I’ll miss while I’m away. Big cities may have more options, but Buffalo’s got cheaper prices. Bali may have beautiful beaches where its warm and sunny, but there’s definitely no snowboarding. And traveling to places where you can see more poverty than in your hometown is quite possibly the best way to appreciate what you have. Whenever I’ve come home to Buffalo, I always knew what I wanted to see and do right away, and in a way, I could appreciate those things like new.