Depending on who you ask, there are approximately 195 countries in the world. Each country with a unique history, culture, and scenery. We live in a spacious and beautiful world yet people often spend their entire lives without exploring it. Of course, traveling isn’t easy—it requires money, time, energy, but most importantly, desire. In our modern world with the sharing economy, traveling has never been easier and cheaper. The sharing economy has facilitated applications like Uber and Lyft to compete with hotels and transportations therefore reducing expenses. Above all the necessities required to travel, the desires to explore, adventure, and learn are the most pivotal.
The art of traveling is learning about matters that can’t be taught in a classroom. As a traveler, you’re exposed to circumstances that no book or professor can explain. We learn about poverty, war, and other human misery throughout our years in school but experiencing it first-hand is a whole different matter. During my trip to New Delhi, I vividly remember being approached by two kids, aged around nine, asking for money in shredded clothes in the extremely hot and humid weather. For a second, my whole world took a pause and I could not think of anything but these two kids—two nine-year olds, living in poverty in the heart of New Delhi and without any certainty of their future. To experience their emotions at that moment in that circumstance is something that no book or classroom can emphasize. Another simple example is comparing the currencies—what currency is worth more? How much would this same exact product cost at home?
When we remain in our comfort zone we lose the opportunity to explore ourselves in a deeper level. Being in your comfort zone is being in a space where your behaviors and activities fit a routine and pattern. In this space, you are so ingrained with your routine that there is no room to discover, grow, and learn. Traveling erodes your comfort zone; whether it is trying new food, exploring new cultures, or engaging in activities that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Traveling forces you to expand your horizons. Traveling is learning more about yourself, your likes and dislikes. The challenges and opportunities you face abroad will help you better understand yourself and your character.
Experiencing other cultures is a key component of traveling. When you venture off to new lands, you immerse yourself in a foreign world. The way things operate and the way people act in one country are not the same as in another country. Every country has a different culture and a different way of viewing things. In such a globalized world it is important to embrace cultural differences to better understand why people from certain cultures think and act the way they do. Besides learning about other cultures, it is also important to defeat common stereotypes.
For example, people often portray China as an evil country filled with citizens who eat cats and dogs. While there are some small cases of people who do this, the percentage is extremely small. Venture off in the streets in China and you will realize that it is not a ruthless, evil, cat-eating society. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
You only have one life to live in this world. Save some money and embark on a journey—accumulate stories that will live on for generations, explore yourself and others, and realize how blessed we are to live in this beautiful planet. Adventure awaits.