Why Travelling Could Be Your Biggest Investment in Life

The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone in their twenties is to travel — and travel a lot. There are multiple reasons why I recommend it. You wouldn’t even realise how much of a positive influence travelling could have on your life until you actually do it.

Because we live in a world of templates which kind of give us an idea of how to spend our time, we hardly ever consider the alternatives. Well, I was fortunate enough to co-found a travel company and, as a result, I travelled to many beautiful places. But even before that, I’d already experienced living in three different countries.

So why am I telling you all of this? Let me explain.

Why you haven’t travelled yet?

Not everyone needs to wake up at 5 am, but everyone needs to travel. Well, I’m here, not to convince you into anything but just to share the benefits of travelling I have experienced in my life.

At a very early age, I had a clear goal of living in different countries and travelling the world. So far, I’ve lived in three countries, six cities, and also, let me brag about the languages I learned along the way. For me, it’s all about the look people give when they find out how many languages I speak.

You’d be surprised at how much you can learn in a short period of time when you live abroad or travel long distances. Most people look at life as a linear path of development and, unfortunately, resist the idea of looking at it differently. You go to school, then to college, get a job or start a business, you work hard, and then possibly arrive at your retirement at the age of 65. So, what’s the point?

Most of us were taught to have the prerequisite skills or knowledge to get ahead in life. But the world has shifted, and it did so a long time ago. Most of us are just reacting to that change and not taking advantage of it. Consider the idea that the greatest investment you can make in your personal development is to broaden your perspective on yourself and those around you, as early as possible in your life.

Nowadays, you don’t need to be financially rich or come from a wealthy family to be able to see the world. We live in an age of open-source possibilities. Got just £100? Google how to travel on tight budgets. No one to travel with? There are dozens of groups who share specific travel interests. When I was involved in a travel business, we organised tours on meetup.com.

The ROI of travel

Recently, I see more independent travel companies start to focus on the social factor. You no longer need to travel with friends only. And why would you, when the point is to get amongst new people? But maybe you just want to lie on a beach and take in the tropical sunny air. I must tell you, though, this won’t necessarily add any significant value to your life.

When you find yourself in a daily routine that gets you nowhere, throwing yourself on a spontaneous ride around Europe can shake things up for you. If you travel to explore and have fun, you’re more likely to bond with other like-minded people. Even if you have got the money to stay in a hotel, I do recommend staying in highly-rated hostels instead because of this one factor: perspective. And this my friend, can only be acquired through new experiences.

unsplash-logoJustin Luebke

Some of the best things I learned while travelling weren’t about the culture, history, or beautiful architecture of the countries I visited. They were about myself. As if I managed to open a new dimension of what’s accessible to me.

Countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands showed me a new level of organisation and structure in life. Bulgaria and Slovenia made me realise my passion for mountains; a place where I’m now always able to generate the best ideas for my work. Monaco introduced a magnitude of wealth and riches. When you’re surrounded by beauty and status, you unconsciously start to strive to that level too. And Mexico allowed me to see diversity and contrast in life. Mexican people, in my opinion, are the kindest people I’ve ever had the opportunity to connect with.

One particular time I visited Mexico, I stayed in a five-star, all-inclusive resort, in a bungalow with a private swimming pool and jacuzzi, located twenty meters away from the beach. Oh yes, there were twelve different restaurants and, if you wanted, you could order a golf cart with a private driver who would get you to any spot in the entire resort.

Several miles from this resort were rural villages with homes which were self-made — some of which didn’t have proper roofs, windows, or doors. Of course, not all of the houses looked like that, but the contrast was staggering. This is where I gained another type of perspective.

Travelling made me reconsider some of my assumptions and challenged my beliefs about people, opportunities, and my own potential. The truth is, some of the most important life skills — like compassion, acceptance, openness, creativity, and risk tolerance — are more likely to be developed in unknown and “new-to-us” situations. And you don’t have to travel in a hot air balloon across the ocean like Sir Richard Branson to experience novelty and adventure.

You can’t truly choose what you want if you don’t know what’s out there

Let’s say you were born in a particular place, where you were exposed to a set of particular opportunities and resources. Based on what was offered to you by your environment, you made particular choices which shaped your behaviour and, therefore, your results.

Let’s step aside from that picture for a moment and imagine that life is merely a menu from a restaurant, with hundreds of dishes. You pick up that menu and recognise several of the dishes, as you’ve tasted them quite a few times before. Now, let’s say you took your friend to the same restaurant. He asks you what the best dish is on the menu, to which you reply, “Hmm, I’ve only tried this one and I think it’s good but I’m not sure about the rest of the menu”.

I perceive life in the same way I see a restaurant menu. On offer is an abundance of experiences I can choose from but I keep on picking the same thing over and over. Why? I can’t make the best available choice to me if I have no clue what the rest of the dishes taste like. So I’ve got to start questioning what I really want, where I really want to live, what I want to do, and who I want to meet. How would I really answer all of these questions if not through tasting as much as possible from life’s menu?

This time, imagine you could travel to twelve different countries and stay there for a month each. You’d find the work you want to do, you’d meet interesting people, visit various places, try different foods, learn languages, and completely immerse yourself in that experience, for the time you were there.

After a year, you’re coming back home. What is going on in your head right now? How would you see your life and what’s possible for you? How much energy would you have? Will there be new goals or dreams you’d want to achieve? I hope by now you get that it’s not just about travelling, rather more about seeing yourself beyond the limitations you might have.

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