6 Realistic Reasons Why Travel Is Important (And Why To Plan Now)

Stellenbosch South Africa

Everyday my Twitter stream is full of beautiful sunsets and inspirational quotes. Stories of life-changing moments and travel encounters that are so extreme they sound contrived. That’s fine, and I’m certainly guilty of that too, but that’s not what travel really is or even why travel is important. I started this site from the perspective of a normal, working professional and while my professions have changed, I try to still keep that mindset. My trips are never more than a week or two in length and I try to be realistic about what people can and cannot do. So I thought I’d further that and today offer up some more notable reasons why travel is important to everyone and not just that 20-something backpacker.

1. It’s supposed to be fun – I think that in the quest for meaningful experiences and promoting fake ‘undiscovered’ places, most travel outlets lose sight of the real reason why many folks travel, because it’s fun. The vast majority of the traveling public won’t go on a month-long cruise or trek along an ancient pilgrimage route. No, instead they’ll take a week (MAYBE two) and choose a destination on the presumption of having a good time. Those of us who work in travel may be too close to the subject, we may travel too much to realize the importance of a once or perhaps twice a year disconnect, since it’s something we so rarely do. Sure, travel is also about personal development and growth, but that’s not why my neighbor went down to the Caribbean last week. No, he went to go sit on a beach and enjoy his time out of the office and that aspect of unadulterated fun should never be forgotten.

Maritime Museum of La Rochelle France

2. Amazing education – All of that being said, no matter your style of trip education is always a key aspect and it is always important. Sure, there are some places where you learn more than others and what you learn isn’t always the same. Sometimes it’s literal, as in an educational trip but most times the education is a subtler one, one that happens on a very personal level. My friend who just went down to the Caribbean may not think he learned anything on his trip, but he did. While inadvertent, he learned about local cultures, foods and the general vibe of the islands. He probably learned something about himself too. It was his first time to the Caribbean and there was probably some trepidation involved. He learned more about what he can do and frankly what interests him when he travels. Education happens whenever you leave the house, you just need to open your mind and be prepared to learn.

South Africa

3. Great for all ages – Most of the pretty pictures we see feature an idealized traveler, depending on the type of company doing the promotion. Action adventure companies have spry 20-somethings scaling mountain peaks, or whatever it is they do, while river cruise companies have the calmer, but not any less photogenic baby boomers enjoying a glass of wine or marveling at long lost art. Sure, these companies cater to their client base, but they’re also inadvertently alienating others. I told someone recently that my partner and I are going on a river cruise later this year and the reaction was shock. “But that’s only for old people!” No, no actually it’s not but that’s the image. The same goes for active trips. They’re not only for younger folks, travel is a great equalizer and anyone can travel anywhere and do anything – they just have to want it enough. So grab your spouse, your kids, your grandma – whoever! Just get out and go.

Bacon sandwich, London, UK

4. Healthy – Any number of studies show that travel lowers blood pressure, decreases stress and is generally a healthy activity; for most people. That’s how stressed out we are as a culture, we can’t relax unless we literally rip ourselves away from our home environments. That’s why I started off this list with the enjoyment factor because while travel can have its stressful moments, ultimately it’s about enjoying yourself. There are also more quickly realized benefits, like eating better and getting more exercise. You may not agree with the eating better part, but it’s true. From an American point of view, so many of our foods – even staples – are intensely processed or contain a dubious cocktail of chemicals that are probably hurting us more than we realize. Whenever I go to Europe I never shy away from great foods, and plenty of them. But I never gain weight and sometimes I lose it. Sure, part of that is thanks to physical activity but it’s also because for the most part I consume fresh, locally sourced foods. What is now a food trend at home is how most of the rest of the world eats and travel is a great way to realize its importance.

bangkok airport

5. Helps in other aspects of life – From a practical point of view, the many skill sets involved with travel reverberate throughout the rest of one’s life. Saving for a big trip involves new budgeting skills, saving and prioritizing in different ways. You don’t always have to use that extra money for travel; you can use it for anything really. Travel also makes us more patient, due to the innumerable minor stresses involved. If you don’t become more patient you turn into a raving lunatic, so try to opt for the former. Related to patience is kindness. I think it’s impossible to meet new people, whether it’s in Albuquerque or Ulan Bator, and not develop a certain empathy for them and their lives. You’d be amazed how this trickles down through the rest of your life. And frankly travel makes you more interesting. Everyone needs a story to tell, make sure you have one.

Zip line Wales UK

6. So you don’t have a life of regrets – Ok, I find myself lapsing into metaphysical travel blogger mode, but I can’t help it. I’ve been through this, I’ve lived a life I wasn’t happy with and through great effort made changes so that I could be happy. I see countless others, many of them my friends, who don’t do this and walk through life with a sack full of regrets. “I wish I could”, “that would be nice,” and “it’s too hard,” are their go-to phrases and each one is a cop-out. I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you want anything in life, if you work hard enough you can make it happen. Most people don’t want to put in that work though. This doesn’t have to mean an epic, around the world quest for self-enlightenment. It’s as simple as visiting any new place, but visit it you must. The benefits are too many and the risks too great to ignore that siren call of travel.

Remember, ultimately the average vacation is not a quest to find inner peace. It’s a vacation and that’s ok. That doesn’t mean though that you won’t gain some of those pie in the sky, fluffy benefits, but it’s a balance, which is the real reason why travel is so important.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

10 Responses

  1. Jo @ migrating bird

    Oh, did you have to post that photo of a bacon sandwich when it’s lunchtime and I have no food in the house?

    I agree with pretty much all your points, but especially the first. Travelling should be fun, and fun means different things to different people. So many ‘travellers’ scorn those who go to a resort or on a cruise. They seem to have forgotten that to a lot of people, two weeks of sunshine, all inclusive food and drink and no responsibilities with a group of loved ones that they don’t have enough time for in ‘real life’ IS fun. So what if they rarely leave the resort or ship? It’s up to them.

    Maybe that’s why most people travel so little- they don’t realise that they’re “allowed” to just go and have fun in a great hotel because so many magazines, books and travel blogs imply that the only meaningful way to see somewhere is by living like a local, with the associated lower standard of comfort.

    Reply
  2. Brenden

    Great points here. Travel should definitely be fun (as you said). I also think that people can travel for whatever reason they want and whatever they deem to be “fun”. Fun for me and fun for you are probably totally different, just like everybody else in the world is unique. I don’t think anybody should be judged on how they travel. I mean if someone’s idea of fun is just sitting on the beach for a week, who am I to say that that’s wrong? On the otherhand, someone else’s idea of fun (mine, for example) would be totally different. And when I travel I have no problem simply hanging out in the apartment or hostel I am staying in for a while. I also like to cook when I travel. Sure that may not be some other people’s idea of fun, but I travel for myself.

    Also, another thing. I think if people are only traveling to escape their normal life at home then maybe they should also try and make a change to their home lifestyle if they are truly unhappy with it. Like I said though, it depends on that particular individual and why they are traveling in the first place. And again, who am I to judge what others do?

    Thanks for the read. Great article!

    Reply
    • liz

      I Highly agree with you. We have different definition of ‘fun’. I hate it when people tell me to travel and have fun. i have fun. They must have issues at home/their own life.

      Reply
  3. Alana - Paper Planes

    Yes – agree to all of these – especially #s 1 & 6!

    Reply
  4. Marsha

    Great article. Sometimes you have to point out that travelling is supposed to be fun. Fun can be anything as long as you enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be a round the world trip (although that does sound like fun to me but not everyone). And I agree about your point on education: you always learn something even if you do not realize it at the time. You cannot visit a new culture and take nothing away from it. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Rolling Okie

    You know, everyone travels for their own reasons. My wife rarely goes with me anymore. I think she’s “traveled out” after several dozen countries. Me, I still go, even without her, and I go for my own reasons. I invited her to go with me on my last trip, telling her “You’re going to have to learn to say “western style toilet” in Arabic and Russian if you want to go.” She said “I don’t think so!” Luckily, she doesn’t ever hassle me about taking off.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Ha! Sounds good, although I get plenty of hassle when I take off :/

      Reply
  6. Tamara (Gloeb Guide)

    That point about ‘all ages’ reminds me of a story I heard from someone who escorted a well-off family and their four children on a pricey Galapagos Islands cruise. Everyone else on the ship (60+) were shocked to see kids running around, but I think it’s important to expose children to all types of adventures (if you can afford it!)

    Reply
  7. DB

    Yes! Yes! and Yes! I could keep going, but you get the point. We see travel as a fun way to broaden our horizons, make new friends, see new places, and learn something. Sometimes, what we learn is not all to academic, but that has not stopped us from traveling. We love to cruise, if you could not tell, and while that form of travel sometimes gets a bad wrap, there are many ways to can plan a cruise vacation and still experience much of what you point out in this post. Just found this site, but I will be sure to come back again for more great inspirational travel advice.

    Reply
  8. Katie @ WorldWideVegetarian

    This was a very thoughtful post, and even though I love traveling and really don’t need a reason, this was a great post to share with friends and family who could use a break, and have some fun while learning something!
    Thanks,
    Katie

    Reply

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