The Free Spirit: Why do People Travel?
June 18, 2020
I find myself thinking a lot about travel during this pandemic lockdown. I long for that journey to the airport and the butterflies I feel in my stomach. I long for the excitement of climbing aboard the plane and lifting off the ground on my way to somewhere new.
In the past I have worked as a teacher in the Gambia, Africa, ridden horses through the swamps of Brazil, taken an uncomfortable bus journey all the way to Morocco and several more long bus trips to places like Munich and Lisbon. I have enjoyed train journeys across Europe and the USA and enjoyed dancing with hippies on the beaches of Goa. I love to travel
My favourite thing about travelling though is meeting new and exciting people along the way. I have met many long term travellers who spend half (or more) of the year in places like South East Asia and India. They see travelling as being like breathing; they cannot live without it.
I recently watched one of Jessica Savano’s blogs called Spiritual Travel, which asked the question…why do people travel?.
This got me thinking about writing a post exploring this very question.
This one is for the free spirits amongst you…
…Why do people travel?
Why do people leave their homes and voyage all over the globe? The reasons why people love to travel are varied, and very personal. Take a look at these motivations, and see which ones ring true for you.
One of the reasons why people love to travel: challenging themselves with new places, people and experiences
You might feel like you’re stuck in a rut in your daily life. Or you’re yearning for something exciting and different. You’re craving new experiences and new challenges. Travel is the ideal place to test yourself. It pushes people to their limits and gets them outside their comfort zone.
You’ll discover how resourceful you are when you’re exposed to new places, people and experiences. Maybe it’s finding your way around a busy city. Or ordering a meal when you don’t speak the language. Or zip-lining. You’ll feel pride when you finish your trip successfully. Overcoming challenges will bring you joy and energy for future tests. You’ll realize how capable you are and build your confidence.
Learning is a strong reason why people love to travel. They want to experience something unfamiliar and leave with new skills or knowledge.
Seeing the world is more educational than a high school or college class. This condensed crash course in discovering how the rest of the world lives actually will cover subjects like history, geography and sociology. Every destination has something unique to teach visitors, and immersing themselves in a completely different world is the best learning experience.
People may travel to learn something specific: a new language, a new cuisine, aspects of a different culture, or a deeper appreciation of faith or spirituality. As a bonus, they’ll take away more than their specific goal. They’ll discover totally different ways of doing things. They’ll also gain awareness of new customs, cultures, people and places. And because you’re actually experiencing this learning in real life, not reading it in a textbook, it will stay with you for a long time. You’ll gain a deep sense of satisfaction with the new skills you’ve learned – and new insights you’ve gained.
By being exposed to new places, people and cultures, you’ll develop a wider world view.
Expanding your perspective
Another reason why people love to travel: it helps open your mind. You realize that there’s no one way to live life. Meeting people from other places will show you that your world view isn’t the same as everyone else’s.
You can’t imagine how different life is in another place until you see for yourself. Everything from work to family to beliefs to interests is not what you might expect from your own experience. The different setting will also help you discover and consider fresh ideas you hadn’t thought of before. You’ll come home with different notions and possibilities.
By being exposed to new places, people and cultures, you’ll develop a wider world view. And that will make you a better-rounded global citizen. It’s a great reward and big reason why people love to travel.
Getting in touch with yourself
Getting away from home gives you the opportunity to reflect on your life. You have the needed time and space to let your mind wander and take stock. Traveling is one of the best ways to learn more about yourself. Every day traveling brings a new set of issues and opportunities. The way you handle those also gives you insight into who you are. You’ll come home knowing yourself better, and with a fresh perspective on what you want out of life. The experience will change your life.
Appreciating your life
When you’re mired in your daily life, it’s easy to lose sight of what you have. Your eyes aren’t open to what’s really special about your home. Exploring another place will give you a fresh appreciation for your hometown, country and “real life.” Once you’re back, you’ll feel lucky to live where you do. You’ll see that there really is no place like home.
Travel is an ideal opportunity for families to connect with each other
Building and strengthening relationships
The shared experience of travel brings people together. A family getaway, a romantic trip, or long weekend with the girls or guys can strengthen important bonds.
The latest Virtuoso Luxe Report names multigenerational travel as the top trend of the year. Travel with immediate family also made the top 10 trend list. With the demands of today’s lifestyle, and relatives spread across the country and world, families don’t have much time together.
That travel could be grandparents, parents and children together on a Caribbean cruise. Or it could be parents and children going across the country to visit Grandma and Grandpa at their home. Or just the immediate family renting a Mediterranean villa. Whatever it looks like, travel is an opportunity to connect with each other. It may even smooth over any family grudges and build happier relationships.
Couples, too, need to bond with each other away from home and work demands. Sharing travel experiences can ignite fresh sparks that last long after the couple returns home.
Travel is a special way to deepen friendships as well. Whether it’s a quick ski break with co-workers or a week-long sun-and-sand getaway with your high school gang, travel will remind you why you became friends with them in the first place, and how good it is to spend focused time together.
Travel is also a great opportunity to make new friends – either fellow travelers or locals. Meeting and befriending new people is a valuable travel benefit. And once you’ve bonded, new possibilities for future travel unfold – either to visit them or journey with them.
Conquering fresh territory is part of the exhilaration of travel
Having an adventure
Conquering fresh territory is exhilarating – and one more reason why people love to travel. Humans crave new experiences and travel lets us tap into that craving. A trip is the perfect time to do something different and exciting, especially something you can’t do at home. The thrill starts the minute you land in a new place. Conquering that territory could be trying spicy Thai street food or conversing in Madrid with your rusty college Spanish. Or it could be a physical experience, like scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef or hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You’ll have lots of fun. You’ll revel in the rush you get from your exploits. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. And you’ll return home with the best souvenir of all: a memory of your incredible adventure.
A demanding job. A bad breakup. The loss of a loved one. Just like the heroine in Eat, Pray, Love, travel can be a great relief from the stress and unhappiness that come along with those.
People seek from their travels what they don’t have back home: better weather, nicer scenery, the freedom to do what they want, experiences they can’t normally have, a slower relaxing pace. Admiring masterpieces in the Louvre or lying on a Hawaiian beach are wonderful breaks from the regular grind.
Travel is particularly helpful for workaholics who have trouble leaving their job behind. Stepping away from the workplace is good for you both mentally and physically. When you return to the job, you’ll have had the space to look at issues with fresh eyes. Travel has the power to let you not only escape but also heal. A new place with lots of fun distractions can work wonders. You’ll return home more at peace with yourself and your challenging situations.
A relaxing setting and good weather are common ingredients for a trip focused on relaxation
Relaxing and rejuvenating
Maybe you’re not looking to escape your problems. But everyone can benefit from a break from our usual diets of all work and no play. You may not realize how much you need to disconnect from the ever-present pressure of being available by phone, email or social media.
A restful vacation is just what you need to renew yourself. In this year’s Virtuoso Luxe Report, 44 percent of respondents named this as a reason why people love to travel. A relaxing natural setting and good weather are common ingredients for the R&R-focused trip. But everyone’s idea of the perfect rejuvenating vacation is different. One person might want to trek through a rainforest. Another may want to lie poolside at a Mexican resort. Yet another might opt for a wellness retreat in the mountains.
What should you do when you’re there? Nothing, really. Relax and be present in the moment. Let sensations like the lapping water and the warmth of the sun, along with the sound of waves, recharge your batteries. Live day to day: focus on where you want to go sightseeing (if you decide to leave the beach), what activities you want to pursue (if any), what you’re going to eat, what souvenirs you want to buy. Travel helps your mind and body reboot in a way you can’t achieve at home. In fact, 86 percent of people believe it improves their mood and outlook on life.
There’s always a happy reason to take a trip. It could be a landmark birthday or anniversary. A graduation. A wedding – or pre-wedding festivities. Even a babymoon before a little one arrives. A special occasion is made even more special by celebrating away from the hectic pace of life at home. It’s also a good way to gather family and friends from distant corners to mark the milestone. Celebration vacations provide a lasting benefit as well: shared memories for a lifetime.
Wanderlust is a strange word but what does it mean? Descended from the German word ‘Wandern’ meaning to walk and ‘Lust’ which is described as ‘A very strong or irresistible impulse’. In short it means that you travel because you have the urge to. You may not have one particular factor that made you book a flight. All you know is that you want to travel and you want to travel NOW!
Here is Jessica Savano’s vlog exploring why we travel (don’t pass it by, its a great watch):
Common Characteristics Of People Who Love Traveling
If you are like me, you absolutely love to travel. It is a part of who you are. And when you are asked why you travel by friends, family or complete strangers, you will list a myriad of reasons:
- You love meeting new people.
2. You love experiencing new things.
3. You love seeing new places.
4. You love tasting new foods.
5. You love adventure and the spontaneity that the journey brings.
6. You enjoy pushing yourself out of your comfort zone
7. You enjoy the personal growth that happens within you through the culmination of everything you experience and the people you meet.
I want to specifically touch on this last point – the personal growth and the transformation that happens within because this can be difficult to express, unless you actually give it some serious thought. I know I struggled to express this in words when I returned from backpacking on my own for over a year. I had undergone a massive change personally. But, what exactly did this look like on paper?
Let’s analyze 12 common characteristics of people who love travelling. Bear in mind that many of these are learned traits that are refined the more one travels. And if you are an aspiring traveller – the best advice I can give you is take the plunge. Travelling will change you for the better. Without a doubt.
We are adventurous
Travelling more often than not involves venturing out into the unknown. It involves travelling to a new place, meeting new people and engaging in new experiences. As travellers, we naturally have an adventurous spirit. It is part of who we are, and the more we travel, the more we feed this spirit. Adventure is our normal.
We are empathetic
We have a strong sense of empathy. This is a culmination of our diverse experiences, the diverse cultures we encounter and the diversity of the people we meet. We may encounter immense poverty in certain countries. We will share stories with random strangers. We will work random jobs, from being a bartender, to a cleaner and even a waiter.
We have experienced tough times such as being stranded or having our bags stolen. All these experiences and encounters allow us to accept and appreciate differences amongst people. They allow us to see the world differently and see things through another persons’ point of view.
We are willing to learn; we are curious
As we move from place to place and meet new people we continuously find ourselves learning new things (whether out of choice or not). We become intensely curious about everything and are eager to learn new things, whether it be cultural customs or a new skill.
We welcome change; it’s a way of life
When we travel, the only constant is change. We find ourselves surrounded by new people and new places regularly. Over time, we learn to welcome those changes. We learn to expect them. When we meet a new person, we are cognisant of the fact that that person has their own travel itinerary in mind and they probably won’t be around forever. Change becomes a way of life.
We have higher self-awareness
Self-awareness refers to our knowledge and awareness of our own personality and character. It also allows us to understand ourselves better and how others perceive you. It is the first step in developing your EQ and it is shaped by our experiences. As travellers, we draw from a diverse spectrum of experiences as it relates to people and cultures. Through travelling often and reflecting on those experiences we develop higher self-awareness.
.6. We have higher self-esteem
Whilst we travel, we find ourselves continuously pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. We talk to random strangers. We meet new people at hostels. We create travel plans on the move. We overcome challenges such as having to deal with having money stolen (this happened to me; my entire account was cleaned out in New Zealand). All this improves our confidence in our own abilities; to overcome any challenges that are thrown our way. Traveling develops our self-esteem.
7. We know ourselves better
This may seem cliché, but it’s true. Travelling teaches us about our strengths, our weakness, what we like and don’t like. It teaches us about our personality.
For example during my travels, I spent time living and working on a dairy farm (very remote) and also time living and working in a city, where I lived with 16 people in a house. I enjoyed both experiences, but at some point, I either longed for more human interaction (when working on the dairy farm) or more ‘me-time’ (whilst working in the city). I am an introvert and an extrovert. What have you learned about yourself through travelling?
8. We are more observant
It may not seem obvious that we as travellers are observant. After all, there is so much that we need to take in as we move from place to place. Surely our brains will filter out a lot of information as to prevent information overload?
If you think about it though it is for that exact reason that we are more observant. We have become accustomed to taking in a lot. A sensory overload if you like. Of sights. Places. People. Our brains are well accustomed to taking in a lot more and as a result we filter out less. We have trained ourselves to observe more. And besides, we have far less distractions such as mobile phones and laptops.
9. We are more grateful
Gratitude is the base or foundation from which appreciation grows. When we are travelling we are often exposed to other people who live in immense poverty. We are exposed to ways of living that seem morally incorrect. This makes us more grateful for what we do have. For being able to have food. To be able to afford to actually travel in the first place. It’s easy to forget.
10. We are more appreciative
From our feelings of gratitude, we develop a greater appreciation. We find beauty in those things that we previously took for granted. We accept, that that plate of food we have is giving us the needed nutrition. We recognize it’s value. We are more than grateful for those hiking shoes, we appreciate the value they provide in supporting our feet hike after hike. We appreciate our family and friends back home. Our appreciation is heightened.
11. We are very independent
When I was travelling and landed in New Zealand I didn’t have much money, but I made it work and organized myself accommodation and work.
When we travel, we realize it is just us and the big wide world. We are responsible for every step and action we take. Where we go. The places we see. The people we interact with. We learn to deal with any challenges that come our way, whether it be having to sort out visas, book accommodation or even organize a job.
12. We adapt well
Travelling by nature requires us to continuously adapt; to new environments, experiences and people. Travelling to a new country where there is different food, language(s) and ways of living, requires us to adapt our diets, learn some of the local language and function within new laws. There is constant change and we need to constantly adapt. Use that on your CV when applying for a job, where someone is sceptical about your ability to adapt to a new position.
To travel the world is to find beauty, to experience, to breathe elation. There are some breathtaking places around the globe waiting to be discovered. Travel is about meeting new people, exploring new cultures, religions and traditions. If you want to find a way to expand your mind, change your mindset. Stop with the two week package holidays that only give you a sterile glimpse of a place; instead, choose to really travel; for weeks, months, years…or even indefinitely.
When I was about eight years old I was on a bus with my two brothers and my mum, travelling out of Brighton (my home city) on our way to a country fayre. As you come out of Brighton there is a large park that travels up a hill. It is covered in woodland and for a child it seemed like a jungle. As we waited there, stuck in traffic opposite that park, I looked out of the window and saw four people coming out of the forest, two men and two women. Each had a backpack on their backs and they were all walking with hiking sticks. I looked at those four with wonder, what adventure had they just been on in that jungle?
This triggered something in me that has stayed with me all of my life.
I suddenly felt a deep magnetic draw towards that forest and I started to create a fantasy in my mind of running away from home (and my violent father) with just a backpack on my back in order to explore that forest before setting off on a grand adventure around the world. My wanderlust for travel had begun.