I don’t think travel is necessarily an elitist activity. I think certain trips and forms of travel can be, but that can be said of anything. Great travel experiences can equally happen close to home or on the other side of the world. Regardless of where or how we travel, here are three ways that travel makes us better people.
1. Smarter – While I’d like to say this is a universal benefit of travel, I’m sorry to say that I’ve met plenty of idiots on the road. Still, on the whole, travel does make us smarter. It makes us better global citizens, we know more about the history and culture of the places we visit. This doesn’t have to be to far flung locales either, it can be to a destination just a few hours away from home. No matter if travel to Orlando or Timbuktu, every trip is almost always a learning experience. It’s not just history and art that is transmitted either, we become street smart. Well, not in a West Side Story kind of way, but the process itself is a learning experience every time. The ability to navigate confusing airports and fend for yourself on the dangerous streets of Milwaukee is acquired through time and trial and error. Even the worst, most head in the sand traveler will learn something and grow as a person, whether they like it or not.
2. More Honest and Kind – I live in Washington, DC and am therefore a natural born cynic prone to cranky outbursts. Over the years though I have been drawn out of my shell of skepticism through the people I meet, most notably when I’m not at home. All over the country and the world, I have seen countless examples of good acts and genuine kindness from mere strangers. This has a unique pay-it-forward effect. I truly believe that this behavior is imprinted on all of us as we travel and when it comes time for us to aid to someone in need, we are standing by the ready to help and assist. Sure, there are always going to be bad actors and unfortunate events that happen when we travel, but on the whole it is a wonderfully positive experience that (almost) always makes me proud of my fellow man. Then I come home to Washington.
3. More Patient – I don’t think it’s possible to argue “logic” with an airport gate agent, lose one’s luggage or look at a menu that could literally say anything and you wouldn’t know, without gaining a fair amount of patience. Travel is not necessarily an easy thing, it can be downright hard and frustrating at times. If we don’t develop a certain level of patience, then we’ll end up on YouTube as the crazy person who freaked out in a Paris train station. It’s not always easy to take a deep breath and accept things in stride, but travel more than anything (well, except for having kids) teaches us this great lesson of slowing and calming down.
What are some other ways you think travel makes us better people?