There is no doubt that travelling can be extremely inspiring, and if you are a person who loves to travel, it is just a lot of fun. For most people, travelling means they are taking a few weeks off from work and they are breaking out of their everyday lives to clear their head. But is there a deeper reason why travelling matters? Is there a positive aspect of travelling that goes beyond your personal joy, one that is beneficial for the people around you, your society or even humanity?
Still today, millions of people live below the poverty line, our natural environment is deteriorating and our conflicts are caused by cultural misunderstandings and intolerance.
I used to work in development cooperation and gave up my job to travel. One aspect that I liked about my old job was that I saw why it was important and relevant.
It might not be as obvious but there are also a lot of reasons why travelling is valuable.
Here are seven reasons why travelling matters:
1. It makes you more open-minded
If you never see anything else, it is easy to believe that your way of life is the right one. Visiting new places and being confronted with different lifestyles helps you realize that there is not ONE right way, but MANY ways that might be equally good.
Nepal, photo by Karl Schuler
2. It makes you more tolerant
One of the biggest issues in the world today is that people are not tolerant of each other’s religion, culture and ways of life. When you travel, you will most likely experience other societies and their lifestyles in a positive way. You will see how beautiful and inspiring diversity can be and you will take these experiences home. Globalization is a reality and we need role models who appreciate differences and understand that diversity within a society is nothing bad but can be used in a positive way.
3. It makes you more humble
A lot of the time when you travel, you see people who have a lot less than you. You are confronted with poverty and you see how others manage their daily lives with almost nothing.
But you also see how positive, happy and generous most of these people are. Money can’t buy you happiness because happiness comes from the inside. Experiencing this will make you appreciate what you have and you learn that we don’t necessarily need more wealth beyond the basic needs to have a better life.
Pakistan, photo by Karl Schuler
4. It makes you more knowledgeable
Travelling won’t make you a rocket scientist, but there are a lot of things you learn from visiting new places. Of course, this might not apply if you stay in a 5-star all-inclusive hotel, but if you try to interact with the people around you and if you are curious about the place you are in, you will learn a lot. Take my parents, for example: They have lived in seven different countries and they have always been extremely interested in learning as much about these countries as possible.
They gained incredible knowledge and wisdom through their experiences, something that could never be taught through a textbook.
5. It gives you time for self-reflection
Often our daily lives are stressful and hectic and we hardly have the time to take a step back and think about our actions and analyze our state of mind. The most valuable thing I gained from travelling for a year was that I finally understood my needs. I was travelling by myself, without any plans and without a return ticket. This absolute freedom allowed me to reflect on my desires and every single day do what I want to do. This experience helped me become a lot more confident and now helps me stand up for what I believe is right, without having to please anybody else. Of course, this is an extreme example, but even on a smaller scale taking time off for a few weeks can help people reevaluate where they stand and make necessary adjustments. This is often not possible when we are caught up in our daily lives.
Tibet, photo by Karl Schuler
6. It makes you more aware of our natural environment
Often, travelling involves being in nature. Some of the top tourist destinations worldwide are strongly linked to our natural environment. Whether it is the Amazon, the Himalayas or the Grand Canyon, they all make us realize what beauty and value nature offers and what consequences there will be, if we don’t take care of it. It is this awareness that travelers take home with them and then start to see their surroundings in a different way.
7. It makes you more culturally sensitive
When you travel, you don’t only experience the culture of the country you are in, but you also interact with other travelers from across the globe. You get to know how people from other cultures live, what their values are, what they believe is appropriate and so on. But you also realize how much we all have in common and that we just have different ways of reaching the same goals. Comprehending this can help avoid a lot of misunderstandings between cultures and nations.
Pakistan, photo by Karl Schuler
Travelling can have a lot of positive impacts on a personal level, ones that make us more suitable for the world today and the challenges we face. Now imagine if people in power were tolerant, culturally sensitive, in touch with nature, self-reflected, knowledgeable, humble and open-minded. Wouldn’t the world be a better place?
That’s why travelling matters!
All photos are by Karl Schuler. Here you can check out more of his photos.
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Can you think of more reasons why travelling matters? Leave a comment and let me know why travelling matters to you!