Travel is definitely its own reward. You really don’t need a reason to stand up, buy a plane ticket to somewhere where you’ve never been before and have a new and awesome experience. Nevertheless, there are some fringe reasons why you should definitely consider making travel a priority in your life.

Let’s explore some of them.

  1. Travel promotes a healthier lifestyle

Travel involves movement, it’s a physical act. It’s a verb. Merriam Webster defines it as “to move or undergo transmission from one place to another.” You can’t travel if you don’t get off the couch and out of the house. Whether it’s walking all day wandering around one of the capitals of Europe or moving from one destination to another, travel regularly puts you in situations where you have to walk to explore and get around. A lot.

Acatenango Volcano Guatemala Mike Stock

Mike hikes up the slopes of the Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala.

Adventure travel, especially, can make you healthier by promoting activities that involve a lot of exercise. Think about diving, hiking through mountain trails, climbing volcanoes or trekking from one town to the next. Be sure to consider any adventurous activities in the places you’ll be traveling through.

Travel also helps you manage stress in your life. It’s no wonder that people tell each other that they need a vacation when they see someone completely stressed out. Some fun and recreation, as well as a healthy level of exploration, can work wonders for reducing stress.

  1. Travel can help your social life

Traveling distant lands, even if you’re traveling solo, doesn’t have to involve going on days without end without speaking to another soul. The road is filled with fellow travelers who want to share their experience with other like-minded people.

People tend to be more open and receptive to new friendships (maybe even some romance!) while traveling. Just be sure to get into the mood by being open and receptive yourself, and surely you’ll make lots of new friends! You can even visit these friends later on your next trip. Travel brings more travel, and networking is key.

Sharing experiences with other people plays a huge role in how we enjoy travel. The novelty of a new friendship, the novelty of unknown places and our own vacation attitudes can make for a truly memorable experience. Who better to share the view from atop a mountain you just climbed than with the new friends you met on the tour?

  1. Makes you smarter and more cultured

While traveling, you are very likely going to see, hear and experience other people’s cultures and ways of life. You’ll learn more about the world and the people who live in it. Travel nurtures your mind and soul by putting you in contact with ideas, ways of thinking, lifestyles, religions, and opinions that make you appreciate the world’s diversity. The more we see, the more we question, and the more we want to know. It’s a virtuous cycle of learning and appreciation.

We become more cultured when we travel because it’s the perfect environment to be exposed to different facets of human life. History, politics, world affairs, food, art, music, dance are only some of the multitude of subjects we might learn about while traveling, and which can greatly enrich our lives.

Mike Caribbean Drums Garifuna Punta Gorda

Mike getting taught to play Caribbean drums at a dive bar in Belize.

We can’t know everything there is to know about the world just as we can’t drink the ocean, but just a dip in the warm sea of knowledge can work wonders on your mind!

  1. Makes you appreciate what you have

There is no perfect place. And although there are some regions that live in different extremes of poverty and wealth, peace and war, most will probably fall somewhere in between. Traveling to different parts of the world will make you appreciate what you have. Each place offers different pleasures, but also lacks others.

Most of us are prone to think that a neighbor’s grass is always greener. Conscious travel allows you to experience the world through another’s viewpoint and see that his grass is, not only as green as yours, but it’s likely even less so.

In certain third world countries, you will often meet people who live well below the poverty line and in squalid conditions. Travel will open your eyes to the harsh realities of the world and give you a more realistic perspective of what’s truly important and what isn’t, as well as making you appreciate what you have.

Be grateful for your life and what/who you have, for there is always someone else who isn’t as lucky as you are.

  1. Develops confidence

Traveling, especially more intense styles such as long-term and adventure travel, is not always easy. Challenges await just around the corner when you’re on the road. When you take that backpack and walk out the door, you’re exchanging a life of comforts for one that involves constant work.

Whether it’s surviving in a foreign country with only a word or two of the local language, or dealing with unexpected hardships, many things happen when we travel, but overcoming these challenges and still getting a good story out of the situation and having a good time will make us stronger as individuals and help develop our confidence.

Confidence comes from learning and growing from experiences. It stems from trusting that you have the abilities you need to face the challenges ahead. As such, travel is particularly effective at proving to you that you do have these abilities because successful travel requires that you do. You do it almost by instinct, out of necessity.

If you’re the type of person who suffers from particularly low self-esteem, I would definitely recommend traveling as a cure. Whenever you feel down or worthless, you can always look back on all those amazing moments which you will no doubt go through, some of them hard or even dangerous, and feel proud of how you overcame them and became a more confident person.

  1. Makes you more open and tolerant towards others

We all have prejudices and preconceptions about certain peoples. It’s part of how society wires us to be, whether we like it or not.

Travel can help fight racism by putting you in direct contact with real people, with needs and emotions similar to yours. Are you from the US and have always thought of Mexicans only as illegal immigrants and drug traffickers? Maybe that encounter with a hard-working and generous peasant while doing the tequila trail will show you an entirely different side of them.

Guatemala Maya Solola Ceremony

The Kaqchikel Maya performing one of their ceremonies in Guatemala.

I highly recommend culture travel as a travel methodology for this because the whole point is experiencing life from the viewpoint of locals, instead of looking at their way of life from your own biased perspective. How we see others is largely determined by how we were brought up and in what context, so being open to other people’s way of life can deeply enrich your perspective.

  1. Makes you more independent

Although help and support while traveling, both on behalf of companions and generous people everywhere, are always a welcome and integral part of every trip, independence is undoubtedly a very desirable trait to develop for traipsing across the world. Being an independent individual gives you the confidence and flexibility you need to take matters into your own hands and truly make the trip what you want it to be.

Solo travel is particularly good at teaching yourself independence. If you don’t provide for your needs, no one else will. It sounds brutal, but isn’t that how life is everywhere? No one will wash your clothes for you in that alpine hostel. If you get sick in Thailand, it’s up to you to find the proper medical care and take care of yourself.

Traveling helps you learn how to take care of yourself out of necessity, even if you travel as a couple or in a group. Everyone is dealing with their own needs and challenges and, although others may help at times, a person with the right mindset will recognize that others can’t carry your burdens for you. You can’t expect other people to carry the extremely heavy and bulky backpack that you decided to lug along, in addition to their own baggage, just like in life you can’t expect others to solve your problems for you.

  1. You become more clever and resourceful

When we’re abroad, we are limited only by two things. First, by what gear and tools we have in our backpack and, second, by our attitudes. A spoonful of creativity can work wonders to make your trip successful.

When you’re forced to make do with what limited resources or options you have, that’s when your creative side kicks into gear and saves the day. The very act of travel requires that you be clever and resourceful to maximize what you have. A single piece of gear like a shemagh or a sleeping bag can have many different uses.

So be creative and inventive while traveling! Use that awesome ability to find crazy new solutions to problems and challenges that arise on the road. There is always a way, you just have to use that brain of yours to find it.

  1. Creates memories and makes you a more interesting person

What’s better than reaching a ripe old age? What are we left with except for the memories and the stories of our life?

Getting to be the most interesting person in the world is a task that takes time and dedication. And bravery. Lots and lots of bravery. Travel provides a heap of interesting stories to make sure that the next time you find yourself being the center of attention you keep your audience rapt with interest. A life full of experiences is a life well lived, say I.

Traversing the globe makes you a worldly person, a person of experience and knowledge (hopefully, if you really did make efforts to learn from your travels). People respond naturally to this, and many might even live vicariously through your stories of hitchhiking through central Asia or diving with sharks. Explorers are a crazy, but necessary and valuable, part of society. You will be living these experiences not only for yourself but for other people too.

In the end, travel is its own reward, and at the very worst, you’re left with many experiences and memories to take with you after each trip. As a friend of mine used to say, “On their deathbed, no one wishes to have spent more time at the office.”

  1. Expands your comfort zone

Traveling, although fun and extremely gratifying to most of us, can nevertheless be extremely uncomfortable. Lugging your bags about from place to place, speaking in a language that is likely not your own, misreading maps and getting lost, blundering about like a dumb tourist to the laughter of locals, having to meet new people every day so you don’t tour a destination’s sights by yourself… traveling pushes you from your comfort zone and makes you more adventurous.

Adventure travel is particularly effective at pulling you out of your comfort zone. It’s a method of travel that constantly dares you to brave the uncomfortable and have a unique experience. Whitewater rafting, hiking a mountain range, exploring the depths of the sea or even asking that cute girl at the bar to dance, we have to make a conscious point to constantly push the boundaries.

And more space means more freedom.

  1. You mature as you travel

Have you ever come back from a particularly marvelous trip only to have your friends and family tell you that you’ve changed? That they get a different vibe from you? Well, it’s likely that you came back a different person.

It’s a custom among the aboriginal peoples of Australia, that when teenage boys reached a certain age, to travel into the wilderness and survive for a long period of time (sometimes months) in what they called a “walkabout.” This journey helped boys make the spiritual transition to manhood. Students in the 18th century would make the “Grand Tour” of the capitals of Europe after finishing school.

Travel can be a very useful tool on our path to maturity, an integral development program that requires full immersion in your growth process if you so choose to give that purpose to your travels. I really feel different every time I come home. I realize that I am not the same person I was when I took that nervous first step into the unknown.

  1. Travel can make you more spiritual

There is something profoundly spiritual about placing absolute trust in the universe, about leaving behind the mundane life and exploring what the world has to offer.

While on the road, I always feel watched over and protected. It feels as though everything happens as it should, like someone else is pulling the strings with a purpose in mind. Like that time I hitched a ten-hour ride all the way to Belize with the first car I saw.

Some call it luck, others call it serendipity, but I call it the thrill of travel, the result of feeling closer to myself and to the world around me.

Something mystical happens when we travel. There is just something special about following an unexplored path that resonates deep within our psyche and awakens a long-slumbering part of us. Maybe it’s a form of active walking meditation. Maybe it’s symbolism for that internal spiritual journey in which we’re all in. Who knows? It’s an ineffable feeling, something that each and every one of us must live for his or herself.

What I do know is that magic happens on the road.

Think of any more beneficial effects of travel? Be sure to post them in the comments section below!