Thought Catalog

5 Ways Traveling Will Help You Improve Yourself

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Travel — as in the act of moving from here to there — is not exactly what I would call a fun exercise. You spend a lot of money (expensive), make a lot of plans (time-consuming), pack up your crap (stressful), sit on a bus, train, or plane for an extended amount of time (boring), and then you lug your aforementioned crap to wherever it is your staying, hoping the whole time you don’t get lost (tiring and stressful).

So many people, including me at times, idealize travel as this panacea for boredom, being boring, and a whole host of other personal problems. It’s not. So let’s just get that out of the way. Travel has the potential to be very expensive, time-consuming, stressful, boring, and tiring.

Travel will not improve your life. 

However, it will provide the opportunity for you to improve your own life. 

1. The money you’re spending? Travel can teach you to budget more, spend less, and seek out experiences that cost less, but are worth more.

2. Planning every little detail? Travel can teach you to recognize and accept that even the best laid plans often go awry. Planning is undoubtedly helpful, but I’ve found it’s best to look at the plan as more of a general guideline, rather than a list of “must do”s.

3. Stressing about your stuff (or really anything)? Travel can help you to realize that you don’t need 90% of the things you think you do. Additionally, it can teach you to relax. Unless you have the power to change something in that exact moment, stressing about it is useless and bad for your health.

4. The countless hours spent waiting? Travel provides the opportunity to learn to live in (and love) the moment. It can teach you to use your free-time productively, rather than whiling it away on useless pursuits. Read a book, write a novel, or even just sit there and think. Moving to Korea gave me the first opportunity I had ever had to consider myself fully and honestly… Who am I? What do I want in life? How do I plan to get it? Those hours on trains, planes, and automobiles can be the most precious of gifts if you use them, rather than just wondering: Are we there yet?

5. Feeling exhausted? Anything in life that is truly worth doing will require a massive amount of time and energy. Being passive and racking up couch-potato points is very easy, and requires almost no energy at all. It’s also a waste of time. If you are bone-tired at the end of the day, it means you probably did something worthwhile.

Notice the common denominator? You. 

You making the choice to do more, and be more than you ever thought possible. Travel is an opportunity that can blossom into an amazing, fundamentally life-changing experience. It can open up your eyes and your heart, not only to all the world has to offer, but also to your own limitless potential. At the end of the day though, it’s still only an opportunity. You are the only one who can snatch it up and use it for all it’s worth. You are the only one who can make it into something more.

Travel will not improve your life. 

You will. TC mark

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