Growing up, my parents always prioritized family trips. Even when money was tight, my parents made sure my brothers and I got plenty of new experiences and adventures from a young age. As a kid, I didn’t necessarily see the value in our 18 hour road trips to Colorado. Sure, we got to ski and see some cool mountains, but was it really worth the agonizing time spent crammed in the car with my three smelly brothers? I wasn’t so sure.
It’s funny because now looking back at my childhood, these are some of my favorite and most vivid memories. Traveling with my family wasn’t always pleasant or enjoyable, but it always made for good stories and crazy adventures.
Retrospectively, I can see that a sense of adventure is one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave us. What started as a family value is now a personal value of mine. Traveling is so important, and I have been lucky enough to do a lot of it since starting college. I am currently living in Madrid for my semester abroad, and I am trying to be super aware of the lessons I am learning. Here are a few that have become apparent so far.
Travel helps you learn more about yourself.
When you are traveling, there is no one to tell you who you should or shouldn’t be. Being separated from friends and family for a bit is the best way to figure out who you are apart from the influence of others. You are allowed total freedom to reinvent yourself however you’d like.
Travel gives you a new perspective on life.
When traveling, you quickly learn that not everyone lives in 3 story houses in the suburbs. Not everyone gets the privilege of being properly educated. Not everyone gets to come home to a home-cooked meal at night. Meeting people with different backgrounds than your own can give you a new appreciation for what you have.
Traveling means adventure.
Because of traveling, I have plenty of interesting stories. I’ve been stung by a jellyfish while snorkeling in the Florida Keys. I prayed the rosary in Spanish with kids in an orphanage in the mountains of Mexico. My friends and I hiked a mountain together in Arizona. I almost got hit by a biker in the streets of Amsterdam. Travel adds so much value to our lives. Without interesting experiences, what’s the point of life?
Travel helps strengthen relationships.
Not all trips need to be big and exotic. Some of my favorite memories are road trips with close friends. In Minnesota, my friends and I often try to go “Up North” at least once a year. A weekend spent hiking and exploring small northern towns is a good way to reconnect and make new memories with old friends. If you do travel with strangers, it is likely that they will be friends by the end of your travels.
Travel is good for your mental health.
As a student with no car, it is easy to feel trapped on campus. When your world feels small, it’s easy for your problems to feel really big. When you travel, you realize how much more there is to life. The whole world doesn’t revolve around your campus and the drama within it. It gives you a refreshing perspective on the struggles you may be having in your day-to-day life.