Travel is what many of us live for. The ability to immerse ourselves in a world not our own and soak up all the cultural differences is refreshing and satisfying. While there are some who enjoy the same routine day after day and desire the comfort (which is completely valid), I personally enjoy the daily shake up and I think there are many physical, social, and mental health benefits associated with travel abroad. Seeing a new place can be exhilarating and tiring, but I think the long term benefits are worth the strain on your mind and body (and bank account).
The physical benefits should be easy to identify. Many of the activities involved in travel to a new location require walking — from one attraction to another, or to explore a city. The act of breaking routine alone is motivating and stimulates physical activity. An active and curious mind is going to be more open to maintaining physical fitness, and a healthy body makes travel much more enjoyable.
The social and economic benefits of travel are lasting and world changing. When people take the money they earn at home into a foreign land and spend it on anything, they stimulate the global economy and that of the country they visit. An indirect effect of this is the recognition of goods and services that are not offered in one country (or continent) or another. When someone travels to Japan from the United States and falls in love with a certain food (sushi maybe?), product or type of human service (onsen?) and then raves about it with their friends back home, they develop a market that had not previously existed in their home country. This leads to job creation and a deeper economic and social connection between lands. Taking this a step further, words from foreign languages are blended constantly, which promotes the growth of both cultures as well as the broadening of worldviews. Taking this another step further, the act of learning a foreign language completely requires the individual to re-tool their mind in order to understand the structure of the new language. Different people in different regions see the world differently, and different languages were developed from these differences. Picking up a second language can be difficult, but the cultural reward is great enough to merit the effort. Appreciation of customs and activities can only deepen with the shift in perception. ***In light of the presence of COVID-19, keep in mind… surfing the web, reading and pouring over images of new places is a great leisure***
The mental benefits branch off from the social benefits. Learning a new language helps keep the mind sharp. On top of this, seeing new sights and broadening your scope of the world you live in can only give you a better understanding of where you came from. And when you get back home, you have stories to share with friends and colleagues that will hopefully surprise and delight them. This positive interaction is healthy for mood and a sense of self worth.
So whether you have the ability to travel physically or just peruse the internet for a virtual tour of the globe, it is all time well spent. If you have the extra time, download the Duolingo app and play around with learning a new language. It’s free and easy to use. It is surprising how differently the mind has to work to lock into a new language. While the words and phrases you’re accustomed to might make sense from the way you see the world, you’ll find that others may not even be able to process the information. And it’s incredible to learn how to twist your mind to process the grammatical structure of a new language. In any case, enjoy the differences our world has to offer. You won’t regret it.