Contrary to popular belief, traveling around the world is not as expensive as you might imagine. People from all walks of life can travel to different countries and even live abroad for years at a time. However, Americans still put traveling up on a pedestal of this unattainable feat that you can only have once you are rich.
Studies have shown that traveling actually makes people happier than having a lot of money. Here are some reasons why you just might be happier and more successful if you decide to travel instead of just focusing on making money.
20. Travel Increases Productivity
In the United States, there’s a negative stigma on taking a vacation. Some people even take pride in not having had a break for several years. Others are afraid to travel because it can be difficult to get time off your job. In many workplaces, you might get time off, but there’s pressure keeping you there. Your employer or co-workers might make you feel awful about taking a break because it’s perceived as lazy.
What Americans don’t realize is that this is a cultural phenomenon. To the rest of the world, this lifestyle is not normal and is actually incredibly unhealthy. In the United Kingdom, every single person who works a part-time or full-time job has “holiday entitlement” of 5.6 weeks of paid time off. That’s right, for the British, the right to take a vacation is literally law.
Studies have shown that contrary to what you might believe, taking a vacation and traveling actually increases your productivity. Leading up to a vacation, most people make sure that they are getting everything done on their to-do list. They are accomplishing more on a daily basis both in their personal and professional lives to ensure that they can take a trip without anything in the back of their mind.
And when they come back from their vacation, they’re eager to be as productive as possible. When you take a break, you can take time off to be a human being and enjoy the company of your friends and family. In turn, this makes you a better employee.
When we buy something, we get a rush of happiness. Sometimes, it can feel like a sense of accomplishment if we are buying groceries or getting the necessary things in our life. So we seek that same happy feeling whenever we go shopping, even if these objects are not necessary to our well-being. This is why some people end up with a shopping addiction. If we look at buying things as our source of happiness, this is a slippery slope to bankruptcy.
Buying for happiness leads to a condition known as a “damage cycle.” When we rely on buying something to give us a boost of happiness, that joy we feel goes away faster and faster. Think about how happy we used to feel as kids to get our gifts on Christmas morning. Now, as adults, our happiness fades a lot quicker and we quickly move on to new things. Researchers at Cornell University have discovered that one of the ways to break the cycle is by doing things that make us happy, instead. Physical actions like traveling will create happiness that lasts much longer and it helps stop us from seeking objects as a source of joy.
Can you remember every single piece of clothing you’ve ever purchased? What about every snack, toy, and anything else that you bought to make yourself feel happy? Now, think about the last time you went on vacation. Chances are that the memories of your last vacation are incredibly vivid. You remember the happiness that traveling brought to your life.
The feeling of happiness that you get from a material object fades quickly. But psychological studies have shown that the happiness you feel after traveling lasts much longer than the high you get from buying something. This doesn’t have to be a huge vacation either. If you’re on a small budget, try to look for attractions in your local area. You might be surprised to find museums, art exhibits, and parks close by that you never knew about before.
When you’re planning to take a big trip, you’re conscious of the fact that you need to cut back on spending money to go traveling. For example, if you know that you’re going to Disney World soon, you might want extra cash for food and souvenirs, so you hold back from buying new clothes.
The more you travel, the more often you’ll be in this state of saving for the exciting adventure that awaits you. After a while, you begin to change your mindset. Those small purchases that used to give you joy are now standing in the way of enjoying your life. Once you have this mindset shift, it becomes easier to save money.
One of the biggest things that can make you happy in life is getting to know yourself. The more you grow, the easier it is to deal with hard times. Sometimes, personal growth can take years well into adulthood. Getting to know and love yourself is a huge part of the human experience, but unfortunately, a lot of people put it on the backburner because they are too busy with work.
When you travel, you get to know yourself very well. You’ll understand what makes you happy and where your priorities lie. During your journey, you learn a lot about history and the rest of mankind. It gives you a perspective that opens up your mind in a way that’s impossible to achieve by staying at home.
A prolific author named Eckhart Tolle wrote a book called A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose. When he was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about the book, he explained that for the longest time, he felt as if he had writer’s block and couldn’t be productive no matter how hard he tried. But once he moved to a new country, he found that he was suddenly inspired and was able to write again. Tolle isn’t alone in this phenomenon. In his book A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway wrote about how he and other writers were inspired by living in Paris and that the vibes of the city somehow enhanced their creativity.
You don’t have to be an author to benefit from travel. For example, maybe you live in a city, but your heart yearns to be in the countryside. Or maybe you live in a country where you disagree with politics. By traveling to a new place, you get to see if the grass really is greener on the other side. Even if you end up being wrong about your dream, at least you were able to satisfy your curiosity and got outside of your comfort zone.
Earlier in this article, we mentioned the fact that in the United States, very few people take a vacation because they are too busy working. So when we see our friends traveling, we automatically assume that they must have a lot of money. Paid time off is very hard to come by, so we also assume that they must have a great job that allows them a flexible schedule. Most people believe they can’t travel unless they become rich.
In reality, traveling can be very affordable as long as you do a bit of planning. Websites like SkyScanner help you get extremely cheap flights, hostels are only $10 to $20 per night, and you can set a strict budget. And if you are lucky enough to work remotely, you can have a jet-setting lifestyle for the same cost of renting an apartment. But there is no denying that as soon as we post pictures on Instagram and other forms of social media, you’re going to feel rich compared to your friends who can’t make time for a vacation. Physical objects like a new pair of shoes will eventually get thrown away. But no one can take a travel experience away from you.
Money can’t buy love, and it surely can’t buy you a true friend. Friendships are incredibly important for happiness, and sometimes you need new friends in your life. Traveling alone gives you the opportunity to meet new people in ways you would have never done before. If you’re alone, you aren’t hanging on to anyone else as a crutch. It becomes necessary for you to reach out to others. This is why companies like Contiki exist. They bring together young solo travelers who are looking to make new friends.
Sometimes, your location might be holding you back from finding good friends. They say that you are the summation of the five closest people in your life. So if you want to succeed, you need to be surrounded by other happy, successful people. If you currently live in a location where everyone around you is miserable, your only option to find better friends might be to travel.
Sometimes, work is very monotonous. If you’re doing the same thing every single day, it’s easy to feel bored and unhappy. This is why there are the famous phrases “living for the weekend” and “Thank God it’s Friday.” It really shouldn’t feel surprising that people are motivated by money and go shopping to give themselves a boost of excitement. They have this perspective that if they had more money, life might get more interesting. It could also help to alleviate the problems they have in their current situation.
Traveling helps you mix up your lifestyle. Suddenly, you are doing something that is completely different from what you were used to on a daily basis. There’s no room for boredom when you are on an adventure in a new state or country. Having this break from your normal life helps you to feel refreshed when you go back to work. Scheduling vacations can also help you have something to look forward to when times get difficult at your job.
When you travel alone, you encounter a lot of scary situations. You have to figure out a new public transportation system, walk unfamiliar city streets, and be on the lookout for pickpockets. The idea of dealing with this can be so anxiety-inducing that some people will stop themselves from ever trying in the first place. In your daily life, it’s easy to feel confident with your routine because you have done it a million times before. However, everyone is capable of overcoming challenges to get something done. If you can go somewhere on your own and survive, it gives you this amazing sense of confidence you never had before.
Traveling helps to build your confidence facing new situations, but it also helps you feel more self-assured in who you are as a person. When you feel confident in who you are, it’s easy to ignore negative comments from haters. Confidence is one of the most attractive traits in another person, so it could potentially help you find a boyfriend or girlfriend if you’re single. It’s also considered to be one of the traits common among some of the most successful people in the world. We can’t promise that traveling will completely get rid of your insecurities, but it will help you feel more confident than before.
If you have kids, traveling can give them an amazing experience that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. They’ll tell the stories of their travels to their friends, which might help them connect with other people who have had similar experiences.
Your children will also always have that memory of going somewhere new and exciting. Children are like little sponges, absorbing information from the world around them. You could spend money to pay for the best schools in the world, but there is no substitute for real-life experiences. So by exposing kids to history, culture, and different ways of life, they’re going to be a lot more open-minded and curious about the world at large. In turn, they are more likely to grow up to be successful, well-rounded adults.
When you are traveling, you might be going to a country where you don’t speak the same language. If you’re alone, and you need help to figure out where you are going, you may have no choice but to approach someone who can’t speak English. This seems like a nerve-wracking prospect to some people, but it forces you to get out of your shell. And if you’re young and on a tight budget, you probably have to stay in a hostel. This means that you will have roommates and kind of feels like going through the college experience all over again. If you have been resting on your laurels of adult life, it quickly reminds you how to be more social.
Overcoming difficult social situations will help you to gain confidence in communication. Once you return home from your trip, it will suddenly feel a lot easier to socialize with people in your normal life. Compared to living in a country where you can’t speak the language, speaking to people in your day-to-day life is easy.
There’s no denying that getting an education is making an investment in yourself. Most people who get a college degree put tens of thousands of dollars into learning the skills they need to gain employment. Traveling teaches you things in real life. This is especially true if you go to museums, historic landmarks, and take guided tours. You’re far more likely to remember information that you learned being somewhere in real life than reading it from a textbook.
When we sit in a classroom, we are often learning about famous battles from war, the Holocaust, kings, queens, and much more. These facts are an important part of human history, but it can be difficult to absorb and really understand the impact of that information. Many of us live in a kind of bubble of our day-to-day experiences. But once you see these things in real life, it becomes much more real. This is mainly why kids who travel from an early age tend to do well in school if they can connect what they learn in the classroom to something they saw in reality.
The most obvious reason why travel makes people happier than money is that it’s a lot of fun. You get to go somewhere new and have a new experience. Many people like to go to a famous landmark, amusement park, or museum that is something they have always wanted to check off of their bucket list.
Sure, shopping can be fun too. Usually, spending money on things that you want is something that you do alone. But traveling is typically done with friends, especially if you’re going to a special landmark. This can be far more enjoyable than doing something on your own and is a much better use of the money you have worked hard for.
Sometimes, daily life can feel like you are running in a hamster wheel, working really hard without going anywhere. So if you crave travel, you probably want to get as far away from your home as humanly possible. But no matter how fun a trip may be, there is no replacement for home. This is especially true if you come back to see your pets, family, and friends.
As the saying goes, “home is where the heart is.” When you take the time to travel, you will certainly appreciate the smallest things about the place you live. It might be the local restaurant with the amazing food you crave or the comfort of your own bed. These are the small things that can make you really happy when you know that you should appreciate these tiny little details about your everyday life. Sometimes, it’s impossible to appreciate something until it’s gone.
According to Psychology Today, traveling with your partner can strengthen a relationship. This is especially true for road trips where you might go through some challenging situations. If the two of you can get through a difficult time together, it only makes you stronger. And, obviously, when you experience something fun together, you now associating these beautiful memories with your partner too. You feel as though you will go on amazing adventures together throughout your life.
On the flip side, if you are traveling alone and leaving your partner behind, this could be either a very good, or very bad thing. Some couples find that when they spend less time together, they love and appreciate their partner more when they are around. As the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
No matter how much you enjoy your daily life, you’re bound to experience stressful situations. For some people, they feel stress more often than happiness or relaxation. When you travel, you’re completely detaching yourself from your real life. You are physically surrounded by a new place, and you won’t have the ability to clean your house or run errands like you normally would.
If you’re on vacation, you have permission to stop worrying, because the things that stress you out are far away. This feeling of relaxation is amplified if you go somewhere like a tropical island resort where everything you could possibly need is provided for you, and all you have to do is lie by the pool or beach.
Researchers from Cornell University observed the fact people get excited leading up to their vacation, and they are happy while they are traveling. Even when they come home, they still feel a sort of afterglow in the happy memories of their trip. They might even have plans to travel again in the future, which continues their excitement about life in general.
In theory, if you travel on a regular basis, you should always have this happy anticipation and after-glow. Of course, some people who travel full-time will feel burned out, because they don’t have any opportunity to decompress and enjoy being home. If you can master a balance between the two, you just might find that life is a lot more exciting.
For generations, artists and writers have traveled the world in order to spark their creativity. Sometimes, it’s difficult to feel inspired when you see the same place every day. No matter how many movies and documentaries you see, there is no replacement for going somewhere grand. So many great artists were inspired by creators who came before them, and it wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t visit their work in real life.
Traveling forces you to use all of your senses, and take in more information than you may have otherwise. When you travel, you will open your mind, and it forces you to change perspective in order to see other people experiencing their way of life. Sometimes, having a perspective shift is the one thing that will make a huge difference in getting a project done.
The last and most important reason why you should travel is that experiences are more valuable than things. Years from now, when you are old looking back on your life, what will you remember? Most people look back on their relationships, regrets, and all the experiences that made them happy. They aren’t thinking about the things they bought. All of that money they spent to buy things they want in the moment doesn’t matter when your life is over.
Maybe you will remember the special items that you owned, like a wedding dress or something else that really stood out. However, the objects that hold the most meaning to us are usually connected to a big event, like getting married, graduation, or the birth of our child. For everything else in their life that they purchased, it all sort of goes away. If you live your life in a more minimalist way and choose to spend your money on experiences instead of things, you’re far more likely to be happy.