Travel is a big passion of mine. I love exploring new cities and countries – to this day (if I’ve counted right!) I’ve visited 34 countries and loved every minute of it. I know I’m not alone here so I wanted to write about the connection between travelling and how this has the potential to make us happy.
Travel is a wonderful way to achieve personal growth but how exactly can it relate to our psychological well-being and happiness? Travelling vastly isn’t an option for many people but even that two week holiday a year can bring great benefit to your positive well-being if done a certain way. I’ve been lucky enough to experience travel long-term and I wanted to share with you my insights into how I think this has allowed my personal growth to flourish.
1. Positive relationships
Travel allows you to be a good ambassador. When you meet new people you are representing your country, a lone traveller, or anything that people may have preconceived ideas about. It opens up friendships both short and long term with short-term friendships containing just as much value through memories and shared experiences. Long term friendships leave you with many people to visit around the world which can only add to your happiness.
I’ve spent some time travelling by myself which to many may induce feelings of anxiety. It did for me too! But by travelling alone you get that massive sense of freedom that stimulates growth and confidence which becomes part of you and is taken with you wherever you go in life. Being out in the big wide world in unfamiliar places can really expose yourself to yourself which can be scary but only adds to personal growth and understanding yourself better – allowing you to see what’s great about you and maybe not so great!
When you move around confidently, mastering your way around, exposing yourself to new experiences and immersing yourself in the culture, it can give you a sense of confidence that you rarely find anywhere else. Knowing it is a little fearful but embracing it, letting it go and coming out the other end in tact, flourishes your confidence no end.
4. Restores your faith in humanity
You can be quite vulnerable when travelling and sometimes plans don’t work out as you thought they would. But it’s not until you’re in that situation that you see just how kind strangers can be and how willing they are to help you out. The kindness of strangers can give you a sense of unity and shows just how much love is around – this isn’t always something you get to be exposed to when going about our humdrum lives.
5. Questions your own values
Experiencing different people and different cultures allows us to see different perspectives, ways of doing things and almost provides a humbling experience because it shows us that we don’t necessarily know everything or that there are alternative ways of doing things. Your reactions to different experiences whether comfortable or uncomfortable, brings growth and a deeper understanding of ourselves. Interacting with different cultures creates a sense of becoming more open, wiser and less ready to judge people.
6. Allows us to value ourselves
Travel gets us thinking about our own self-respect and sense of accomplishment. It lets us see what we are capable of doing which can’t always be apparent when we live our normal daily lives. We are constantly being tested when travelling and each time we are, we can surprise ourselves and see our potential and just how amazing we can be.
Of course, travelling is different for everyone. I believe people gain what they fundamentally need and shows you what you’re not seeing. Ultimately I think it allows us to indulge in things that we wouldn’t normally do at home and gets us pushing ourselves naturally which goes towards our own flourishing – and any kind of flourishing, big or small, will go towards psychological well-being and happiness.
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Jenny Marchal is a freelance writer. Her hobbies are breakfast, lunch and dinner although writing, travelling and exploring are her biggest passions. She likes learning all about positive psychology and writes about it over at her blog: A Life Less Ordinary – Habits For Happiness.