3 Selfish Reasons To Travel Far & Often!

I’m a little different than most travel addicts. I didn’t indulge in a wildly adventurous “gap year” before or after college, and I truly didn’t see the ROI in spending my modest income on anything more than accumulating stuff and “living well” pretty much right through my twenties.

My first couple of trips out of my home country were generically vacation-ish and were to pretty homogenous destinations.

I wish I had known then what I know now.

You are probably well aware that you can find loads of lists out there about how travel makes you a far more evolved and “improved” person. Tons of great travel blogs list all the amazing and authentic life changing reasons for traveling to foreign lands. Things like how you will gain great personal insight, learn to appreciate the world from a much broader perspective, increase your knowledge and your capabilities substantially, and much much more.  

Those things are all well and good, and most probably all quite true, but for me the 3 main reasons for traveling far from home have been pretty damn selfish. Don’t judge me. :-)

1. People Will Find You Far More Interesting (And They'll Be Right)!

Foreign travel, when done for any length of time inevitably puts you in a surprisingly large number of ridiculous circumstances that you either have to flirt, laugh, crawl or bribe your way out of. Each of which will leave you with stories to tell for many years longer than the trip itself lasted. Like bridging the notorious Darien Gap by sailing from Panama to Colombia with the modern-day creepy misogynist equivalent of Captain Bly – but falling totally in love with the beautiful San Blas Islands en route. Or about fist-fighting marauding seabirds while in defense of a herd of turtle hatchlings randomly stumbled upon on an Ecuador beach as they made their uber-precarious journey to the sea. Or walking through the streets of Santiago arms linked Wizard of Oz style with an opera singer/concert flautist and a naval captain after a champagne-filled evening of great conversations and new friendships. Or even the seemingly tame wine tour by bicycle that ultimately went totally sideways (now who could have seen that coming?).

When you hit the travel road hard, it will hit you back, but almost always results in a repertoire of funny stories that makes you seem far more interesting than say, Tiffany, the candy crush addict from Accounting.

2. You Exponentially Increase Your Ability To Travel More!

Every time I’ve traveled, I’ve made good friends in my fellow travelers… and that, even on its own, is great!  But here’s the kicker – they have homes of their own that are usually someplace I’ve never been! A home they inevitably are hospitable enough to invite their new friend (me!) to visit. This is an epic turn of events I had stupidly never expected! My favorite experience like this resulted from meeting an absolutely crazy girl from Sydney while traveling in the Greek Islands.

With her place at my disposal, I had a wonderful home base to spend 4 weeks the following year checking out Australia with a super fun local with a huge heart and a warped mind. She even took me from her shared house in Sydney to her parents’ farm out in the countryside and I got to play city slicker on their rustic sheep and cattle ranch for a weekend. Herding cattle by horseback one day we startled a few kangaroo, who raced out into the open from the scrub, creating a completely amazing visual tableaux that left an unforgettable impression on a city chick like me.

Now, to be fair, you need to be in a position to make a reciprocal hosting offer, even if you fervently hope they never take you up on it. :-)

3. You Learn You Can Easily Be Happier With Less!

When you have to carry everything with you everywhere you go for a decent period of time, even a dumbass like me can quite quickly learn what is essential and what is truly excess baggage. This was an important and life-changing lesson for me. Before I traveled for longer periods, I used to have loads of “stuff” and a hobby of working to source even more! Like multiple versions of dishes I never used in the first place, sets of good linens, and sets of even better linens, not to mention the beaucoup de clothes and shoes!  These are just a few examples of the several categories of excess “materials” I was wallowing under.

For some illogical reason though, I thought these things were important to have. Many of which I never used.

How many people do you know that have rooms full of furniture and stuff in their house that they rarely if ever step one foot inside. Why do we have this useless consumer culture of wanting to get more and better stuff as if we’re medaling in an Olympic sport? I think mainstream media and ubiquitous advertising plays a huge role, and canceling cable TV is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Finding and collecting all these things, organizing and storing them, in order to never use most of them feels like a pretty embarrassing waste of time to me now. I’m not sure though that I would have gotten to this point if I hadn’t been forced to a) haul my worldly goods around with me for great stretches of time, and b) stay in a great many places that were completely adequate (at least most of the time), but were also by no means fancy or luxurious. Knowing that the great experiences I had and the wonderful people I met had absolutely nothing to do with my possessions brought about a kind of freedom and an ease of letting go that I didn’t know I needed.

And now I have way more money for even more fun experiences and adventures. More than a fair trade in my books.

What’s the biggest “selfish” benefit that you get from foreign travel?

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll want to check out 3 Ways To Find More Travel Time and Tips For Solo Female Travelers.

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  • jane cook

    Loved your travel and could not agreemore
    Two years in Afghanistan taught me the same lessons for leisure travel and espoussed by Eugene Fodor: wear one and carry one, buy Gucci loafers and pack a pair of sweats and wine openner.
    Bon Voyage

    • Pamela Denis

      Thanks Jane! I ALWAYS have sweats… oops I mean “active wear” of some sort, but will have to consider adding Gucci loafers to my vast collection of flip flops. The wine opener is a no-brainer for me too. :)

      Bon Voyage right back at ya! Where are you heading next?

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