There are many perks to travelling- great food, amazing scenery, adventure, relaxation- however many people take a trip without really considering how it is helping them grow and develop life skills such as:
1) Learning to be resilient and use your wits
Life doesn’t always go to plan, and this can be especially true in an unfamiliar country! On the advice of a friend I once decided to “wing” my train journey from Switzerland to Italy and go out for a nice dinner with her instead of toddling down to the local station to book ahead. This resulted in 6 hours of waiting at a café in Brig, arriving in Florence well after dark and getting lost, by myself, while tired and hungry, at night, with no phone reception or internet access, in a very foreign city, while trying to find my accommodation. An hour, a few tears and some amateur orienteering later I was checked in… and doing laundry at midnight while eating 2 minute noodles from a vending machine for dinner. I’m grateful for this experience though! It taught me patience, resilience, the value of forward planning and that I can rely on my brain to get me out of trouble.
2) Organisational and planning skills
Being able to make the most of your holiday time actually “holidaying” means planning an itinerary, budgeting, booking accommodation before you leave home, figuring out how you’re going to get from A to B and determining what you’ll need to pack. The hyper-organised Engineer part of my brain loves this stuff. A little spontaneity can be fun, but arguing and stressing out about transport/where will I sleep/how will we get to that place on time generally is not. Doing things on the fly can also end up being expensive financially -like the time I didn’t worry about booking accommodation in Dublin for the weekend after a tour and it turned out half of the US was in town for the first College Gridiron game of the season. We are! Penn State! We are! Penn State! So much blue and white. I ended up booking into the only downtown hotel I could find space at using some of my “emergency fund” which hurt a little, but at least the breakfast was incredible!.
Researching your options beforehand allows you to make the most of your well-earned break and get the most bang for your buck! It can also be a lot of fun and lead to excursions/activities you may have missed out on if you hadn’t done your homework.
3) Appreciation of diversity
Nothing opens up your eyes like landing in a foreign country and walking out into a whole new culture.
Meeting people from different backgrounds with different viewpoints, learning about history, trying new foods, exploring interesting landscapes, learning a new language, seeing incredible art, trying different activities and generally getting out of your comfort zone.
Becoming more “worldly” is one of the greatest adventures you can undertake. It also allows you to reflect and have gratitude for:
a. the chance to broaden your horizons
b. making new friends
c. learning about the world
d. the plentiful food, shelter, safety and opportunities back home
4) Living minimalist
The less things you own the less things own you! After high school I moved all my belongings 8 times in 7 years. Packing is a pain in the butt, storing things is a pain in the butt, losing things in transit is a pain in the butt, having removalists scratch your car is a pain in the butt. Then in my mid-20’s I decided to do the backpacking thing and a revelation occurred – it’s possible to live relatively comfortably on what could be fit in a 65L backpack for at least 4 months and the less the better! Then I moved to Canada for 2 years and left most of my things in storage back in Australia and there were very few material things in those boxes that I TRULY missed (some exceptions were my tea pot, old photo albums and nice jewellery). Ever since I’ve been on a mission to get rid of “stuff” and not to accumulate any excess, local charities have done very well out of this and I’ve even been able to sell a few items (cha-ching!). It’s also surprisingly calming when the clutter is cleared.
It's never been cheaper or easier to travel, and an online business can create the time freedom you need - so get out there and become a student of the world!