Travel is one of the most common interests listed on CVs, dating sites, and the web is full of travel inspiration, pictures and tips. If you are reading this, you are likely to have the travel bug. But where does this urge to travel come from? Are we running away from our environment? If so, what are we hoping to find?
Wanderlust (noun): a strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world
The reasons we travel are endless. It may be a family holiday, a short break, or a gap year. More and more people give up their day job and go on the road, working only to afford the next trip or a bed for the night, some wait for retirement to finally leave everything behind and discover the world.
We are off on our own or embark on a journey together. We hope to get out of our comfort zone, away from the every day and into situations we never believed possible: stranded on a beach, navigating through the New York City jungle, setting up an emergency camp on a hiking trip. Driven by curiosity and a thirst for adventure, we discover the world, learn about new cultures and push our boundaries. We learn to appreciate our family and home when we are away from it. By turning away from constant technology and focussing on the world around we engage with the world in new ways.
Travellers Are Better People
Isn’t the best antidote to racism to meet people of a different race? The best way to get rid of prejudice is to get out there and experience what we are scared about and explore what is still unknown to us.
By travelling we get to know people from all over the world, we get to know a nation within the context of its history, economic and political challenges; we move away from our pre-formed ideas of people and replace them with genuine personal experiences. If we all travelled, the world would be a more empathetic place in which we understand each other’s circumstances, values, and beliefs.
Why Our Bodies Love To Travel
Travel can be a strain on our body, but our brains love it: Think of all the wonderful things happening when we travel. Anticipation itself makes us happy; the endorphins released don’t just block out any pain we may experience but create a feeling of exhilaration. And it is just the beginning. Aside from endorphins, our bodies will come across many other hormones while we are out exploring the world: When someone gives us a hand crossing a wobbly bridge or guides us to our hostel, we experience a feeling of trust; it’s the oxytocin in our brain. Travelling also increases the addictive hormone adrenaline in our body –it gives us the travel bug.
Every time we walk a new way to work, new synapses are formed between nerve cells– imagine the amount of new connections created in our brains we make seeing a new place every day; it’s a work out for our brains!
And then there are the adventures: We feel good when we have overcome a fear, reached a goal or are approaching a reward, and we have serotonin and dopamine to thank for it. And while our bodies can produce all these hormones when we are at home, adventurous situations, exhilarations and challenges occur much more frequently whilst we are travelling.
Finally, travelling makes better people.
It makes us self-confident: we learn who we are and what is important to us and we have a sense of accomplishment. After all, we have taken the leap and gone on an adventure! Travellers are well-rounded people, aware of other cultures, respectful, appreciative of what we have and what we see, and learn to never underestimate the beauty of nature and of the planet we live on.
Travellers are open-minded and learn to think globally. They learn first-hand the effect an action (or non-action!) back home has on others and the rest of the world.
On travels we learn from each other and learn new definitions of happiness and wealth. We also learn that simple actions and gestures can have different meanings. In China, leaving food on a plate is a compliment to the host, who has provided more than sufficient food, in America, it implies the food wasn’t good.
Most importantly, we like the person we turn into. Travellers are storytellers, good communicators; they have met people all over the world and seen the most wonderful places our planet has to offer. Travellers are adventurous and interesting to talk to and their stories will take us on a journey around the world.
By Claire Herbaux - Online Journalism Intern
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