The Importance of Travel for Personal Development

by David · 18 comments

As often as possible, I try to get away because I know travel can be a powerful tool for personal development.  I recently went for a short break in Italy and ever since I got back I’ve been thinking about how exactly travel benefits me.  Here are some of my thoughts:

Without Travel, You Can’t Really Know The Place You’re From

If you’ve not been fortunate to travel, this may sound a little strange. How can travel help me know the place I’m from? That’s the question I asked a few years ago when I was told this would be the case. The reply I got was: ‘you’ll see’.  Well, now I see.

I’ve realised that we all  – to a certain degree –  take things for granted. Some of the things  include food, electricity, transport, heating and safety.  Going to a country where these basics are not always available is a real eye opener.

I’ve  seen how people struggle in Africa with my own two eyes, and it made me realise how much I took for granted.  Compared to the millions living in poverty, my life is incredibly comfortable. Travel brought this to my attention in a way the media couldn’t, and because of this realisation I appreciate my life a lot more.

Of course, travel can enlighten you about so many other things in your environment, like the attitudes of people, quality of food, cultural behaviour, differences in fashion and much, much more.

As strange as it may sound, going far helps you understand what’s near a lot better.

Travel Helps Us Let Go of False Beliefs 

A ‘belief’ is something we consider as ‘true’.  To me, for something to be ‘true’  means it’s a reflection of reality.

Then the question is: how can we be sure if something is a reflection of reality?

Simple: personal experience

If you take a moment to think about the things you believe about, let’s say, Japan.  The fact is that unless you’ve been to Japan, all of your beliefs were formed through what you’ve heard from a person, or a form of media.

You can’t be sure if what you hear is true, nor can you be sure that you’ll hold the same opinion as your sources.

This is where travel comes into the picture.

Travel can help you unravel many false beliefs. Many go something like this: Americans are this, Spaniards are that, Italians are so…, Africans always…, French people are the most… ect ect…

It’s easy to accept someone-else’s opinion as you own without even realising it.

I find it helpful to ask myself why I believe what I believe, and If the belief hasn’t been formed by my own experience, I know I need clarification.

Travel is always a good option.

Travel Helps Us Know Ourselves Better

I travelled to Spain last summer with the intention of improving my Spanish. I expected to learn a lot about the language, but to my surprise, I learnt more about myself.

Most people live life caught up in a routine, and this can make it difficult to find time for reflection.

As an individual dedicated to becoming the best version of myself, it’s essential for me to step back to look at myself so that I can evaluate my strengths and weaknesses.

Although it’s not the only answer, (or the cheapest) again, travel can help.

(It’s worth noting that I’m particularly talking about solo travel. )

Stepping into a new environment has a way a way of revealing things about yourself.

You may discover that you’re more shy, more confident, more open, more friendly or more cautious than you thought you were.

In my case, I discovered that I’m sometimes over-confident. This discovery helped me re-evaluate the way I approach some situations and as a result I made a big leap on my journey of growth.

In this article I’ve only mentioned three ways travel can help us grow. I’m certain there are hundreds or possibly thousands of ways travel can help.

So tell me, how has travel helped you on your journey of personal growth?

Heres a short video I recorded on the topic:


Photo credit

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  • Great post and everyone should take some time to travel.  I wrote about my own personal growth experience with travel in a recent blog post “poem” called “I Saw You Today.”  Tough but good lessons.

    • I agree. Also,  It’s unfortunate that many people believe travel has to be expensive. Travel can be incredibly cheap!

      • Ioana Voicu

        People think travel has to be expensive, because they don’t really look to find themselves, but to splurge. 

        This is a great article and even though we might already know you’re right, we needed a reminder because as you said “most people live life caught up in a routine, and this can make it difficult to find time for reflection”.

      • Ria

        Have you by chance created a blog to give tips on traveling cheap? I don’t find it cheap at all especially traveling from the U.S. to other countries, and would absolutely love to do more traveling. Many travel “deals” charge you more to travel alone, so overall my travel research has clearly had different outcomes from those who have responded. Any advice you could share, particularly for those desiring to travel between western and eastern continents would be great. It seems you’ve mentioned traveling to countries that are closer to you than they would be to me, but perhaps you’ve done similar longer-distance journeys, and can share how you managed those “cheaply.” (Cheap is in quotes because no one has mentioned actual costs, and what’s cheap to some may not be for others.) I agree traveling changes your life, and would love some advice.

        • Pamela Ellison

          Maybe the word cheap is relative. ” Every ting cheap ain’t sweet ” granny’s quote not mine. But join a group that offers a reasonable payment plan on a trip that you can afford.

  • Adrina34smit

    I agree with your post traveling is more important for personal development but When you decide to go somewhere on vacations the first question you are faced with is how to organize your trip. At least, you need tickets and accommodation. However, if you are going abroad, the situation becomes more complicated so,you will need visa, foreign passport and a little bit of information about a country you are coming to.

    Hotels i Cavan

  • Mike

    Great thoughts! I think what many of us need to begin living a more mindful life, and furthermore, to bring some real “value” to our lives, is to be removed from our routines. It seems that the act of observing a foreign culture does bring our attention squarely back to ourselves. I suppose this is what folks mean when we hear them say “i’m going to go find myself.” It looks like you’ve brought to light a nugget of wisdom buried in our language. And so, enlightenment!
    Truly, we don’t put enough observation into our daily lives- always looking to position ourselves to line up into some already woven stripe of the social fabric, our minds tend to reside in the future. To use something from one of your other blogs which I enjoyed, it seems that “unconscious competence” can lead one to a rythm of mental complacency. Although we become proficient in “living” through practice, we can slip into a pattern of experiencing life in the sphere of “conscious competence.”

    Keep up the good work my friend! I thank you for presenting us with a great opportunity for a bit of meditation.

    • Thanks for taking the time to stop by. And I agree with you, most people don’t spend as much time reflecting as they should.

  • Billie Gammon

    Hi David, I happened upon your blog by accident and completely agree with your thoughts above. I think it’s very important that you highlighted the distinction of solo travel.

    Many people still think I’m crazy or don’t understand the incredible potential of experience gained from traveling alone. Sure, you may be faced with more challenges. But that’s all part of it.

    Traveling alone has been one of the most profound educational and personal endeavors I’ve taken on in my life, and I would recommend it to anyone.

    • Billie Gammon

      PS: I’m also a girl so people think that makes me pretty ballsy to travel on my own. I’ve been to almost 30 countries and truth is I would have missed out if I was waiting for a travel partner. Most people love the idea of travel, but stick it on their ‘someday’ lists. Even if they profess how much they want to go, when it comes down to decisions they bail on account of time or money.

      The thing is you spend the time and the money either way, so why not travel? The memories, the interactions, the opportunities for introspection come relatively cheap actually, and are priceless.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve been traveling alone for a while now and it’s an extremely enriching experience!

  • Yurle R. Bonilla

    Hola, mi nombre es Yurleny vivo en Colombia, en un departamento llamado Chocó, tengo 22 años, siempre me he apasionado por muchas cosas como escribir, diseñar cosas, tomar fotografías y especialmente viajar por todo el mundo, ese es mi gran sueño y nunca me he imaginado estar acompañada al viajar. La cuestión es que he pasado las ultimas semanas de mi vida atormentada por mi futuro y mi existencia, aunque nunca estuve de acuerdo con la forma de enseñar de mis maestros siempre he sido una alumna sobresaliente. Pero me faltaba algo, normalmente me distraigo observando por la ventana o en medio de una conversación rutinaria mi mente simplemente empieza a soñar que estoy en otro lugar. Soy una persona infeliz. Donde vivo no existen recursos para los pobres, no he encontrado la forma de estudiar en otro país. Llevo meses intentando aprender inglés por mi cuenta, hasta hace unos días no tenía ni idea de que era lo que me apasionaba en cuanto a una profesión y de repente una noche como estas simplemente se me ocurrió preguntarme ¿Por qué quieres aprender inglés tan desesperadamente? me di cuenta que no solo era el inglés, también era el mandarín, el francés, el coreano, el alemán, el portugués, en fin tengo una lista de 10 idiomas que quiero aprender durante los próximos 5 años, pero no se como, no se a donde ir, no tengo ni la menor idea de como comenzar. Quiero con todas las fuerzas de mi cuerpo y alma viajar y aprender idiomas, se que es la única forma de encontrarme a mi misma y ser al fin una persona feliz. Nadie me ha dado nunca oportunidades para descubrirme quien soy en realidad, siempre he hecho y dicho lo que todos esperan que haga y diga, pero lloro en las noches, en mi soledad, porque no veo el camino que me conducirá a eso que tanto anhelo. Soy una persona introvertida. Ahora no tengo nada más valioso que estas palabras que se me facilitan escribir pero que nunca podré pronunciar. No se porque le escribo, quizás por que usted esta viviendo eso que yo tanto quiero y solo me ha bastado leer algunos de sus párrafos para darme cuenta de ello. Quiero ser una políglota y recorrer el mundo, pero no sé si ese sea un sueño que pueda cumplir. No se si usted pueda hacer algo por mí, tampoco espero que pueda hacerlo o siquiera que responda esto que escribo; quizás solo quería decirle que en el fondo de mi tristeza me alegra haber encontrado a alguien esta noche, que es capaz de vivir algo que para mí ha sido tan esquivo. Tenga usted un feliz día, y una feliz vida.

  • Tierra

    great article! I always mention the benefit of personal development with my friends, and they always seem to give me the side eye…I guess everyone travels with different intentions

    • Nova

      I traveled solo for the first time in 2013! The experience itself is mind-boggling but worth it for my soul and wanderlust! It’s a bit intimidating but once the initial shock of doing a solo trip after years of dreaming about it and finally doing it, I am simply hooked. I totally am in agreement that it is an experience to experience.

  • Alexandra Nemer

    Excellent post, always knew travelling was important but this brought topics to my attention that I’d never have thought of.

  • VeronikaSK

    Hello, I just randomly found this website and this article and it is so true. I can say I grew up mentally because of traveling, it gave me so much experience in every kind of situations. I spent last 3 years living in different countries – I spent few months in each country. Now I can say that I’m more confident than I was before, I met so many interesting people who became my friends or people who inspired me in some way, I’ve seen places some people will never have the chance to see, sometimes I lived in bad conditions, days without water or electricity, sometimes I didn’t have money, sometimes I was surrounded with a group of people who didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand them but somehow we could comunicate anyway. Back at home I realized what an extremely lucky person I am in so many ways. Some people and of course my parents told me I should finish university first, after find a job and have a “serious” life…I took a 3 year break from my university (which I didn’t like and was very unhappy there) and traveled, didn’t listen to others, even to my parents that was the hardest part, but well they can’t be always right, I wanted to follow my heart. Now I came back, started a new University (languages, which I love!), have many ambitions in life, want to learn more and more languages and travel as much as possible, even for a weekend getaway to some neighbor countries, explore, meet new people, listen to their stories, travel even further. Now I can say traveling is the best education you can get for your life and for your mind, self-improvement and finding out who you are. I can’t imagine my life without traveling 🙂

  • Kara

    Great video! Thanks for sharing. Everyone should travel! Last time I got out of the country it was in Napoli and took a food tour with So memorable and a great way to dip into a new country for the first time.

  • TSP

    Nice article about travel and I also understand about traveling satisfaction support; also on how to find matched flight and hotel with our budget that’s to find up a cheap flight also cheap hotel to support anyone’s travel to develop their personality on this website.

    Once again, thank you for share your though with us.

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