The Importance of Traveling to New Places

First, I would like to start this by recognizing that we as college students are in different spots of financial stability, and not everyone who wants to travel - whether it be across state lines or international borders - has the opportunity to. Therefore, I emphasize that everyone needs to travel somewhere they have never been at some point in their lives. Experiencing new surroundings, learning new customs or even eating new foods are just a few of the things that can happen when you travel to a different place. Customs from state to state even vary, so just imagine how much information could be acquired from just experiencing another person's way of life. If you think about it, that's typically what happens when one visits somewhere new. The best situation I can use to describe this occurrence is when I went to Seattle, Washington over my most recent spring break. 

It was my first time ever being on the west coast in general. I was so excited. I had not had the opportunity to see other countries at a young age (except that one time maybe 10 years ago when I was on a cruise), I still saw this trip to visit a friend to be as important as if I were visiting another country. It doesn't matter how far you go, but rather, what matters is that you explore the grounds of the area or place that you've never been before.

I am not the only one to know that travel is important. It even has an affect one ones mental health, according to several research studies. Forbes supports this idea in their article by adding, "Traveling promotes happiness and helps you take your mind off stressful situations. This leads to lower cortisol levels, making you feel more calm and content." Traveling to a new place is like a new slate - it allows the traveler to temporarily start over and experience new sensations by changing their surroundings, which could make them feel much more distant from their stressors at home.

I certainly believe these findings to be true, especially within the context of my own experiences. When I had stayed in Seattle for five days, I began to question the permanence of the location that I am currently connected to at the moment. I felt a new wave of emotions rush over me, and I almost felt the need to learn everything I could about the new city - transportation, food, shopping, etc. In thinking about this, I had begun to realize that when I get older and go through life, I can live pretty much anywhere I want. This, to me, is one of the most exciting realities of life. However, I feel that this thought is something people often take for granted. Some people are so focused on their own perceptions of the world due to the culture that has shaped them. It is easy for us to forget how many other people live in our country, and that there are a whole set of different customs for each country around the world. Therefore, wouldn't traveling to see the unknown be a perfect way to fuel the fire of curiosity?

We as people conform to the idea that only people who have a significant amount of money go to more interesting places. We all know that they go to "exotic" locations because they can afford to. Don't feel badly about your individual situation or compare it to their's. If you had a good time hiking at a new park, and that was your travel experience, then it is still valid because you went somewhere new. The most important thing that matters is if you feel positively about the new adventure, and if you are open minded about where you could go next. 

So my next challenge for you would be to strongly consider where you would like to travel within the next few years. I encourage you to start with thinking close: a new park, another part of your state or another state entirely. Then, as you collect experiences and memories from these places, they can lead you to the direction you are heading in the future. You can also approach certain topics with a broadened sense of knowledge that you may have learned from another area, which is also not a negative thing at all.

Journeys lead to new experiences and help broaden one's perception and understanding of the role other cultures play in the world and how we function with them. They can help shape our life path based on these experiences, or just leave us feeling stress-free with a more open mind. Whatever the outcome may be, just know that going somewhere new and being present in that first moment is an experience that is truly one of a kind. Remember that it does not matter where you go, but how you go. When I say this, I mean it - the most important aspect of travel is how you react to your surroundings. Were you grateful for the experience? Has it made you more knowledgeable in any way? If you can answer questions like these, then you are in the perfect mindset to experience new things.

Bottom line: Don't be afraid to go somewhere new, as it could be one of the best decisions that you you will make!



Photo Credit: Cover, 1