12 Ways Travel Will Change You for the Better

Not everyone loves traveling. Some people find contentment staying at home and not venturing anywhere new.

I was this way for a while. Growing up, my family went camping within our home state of Maine, plus a few trips to Florida and the Caribbean, but I wouldn’t say we were travelers. 

Fast forward to today and my husband and I have been to almost 20 states and after primarily RVing for the last three years, are finally traveling internationally again. We have grand plans to visit every continent at least once and every national park in the US before I’m 40. 

Kaaterskill Falls, New York

We still have plenty of traveling left to do because ironically, once you start traveling, your bucket list only grows!

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”.

Michael Palin
Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota, Florida

You Don’t Need to Travel Far or Long to be Positively Impacted

Most of us think that we need to visit an exotic destination to experience a life changing trip, but this is not necessarily true. 

You could easily visit a destination only a few hours from your home and still find it so enjoyable and life changing. 

This occurred for me when I went whale watching off the coast of Maine where I’ve lived for 30+ years. As an avid marine life lover it took me far too long to go whale watching and I promise when I say, it was one of the most glorious moments of my life. 

Early in the morning we had traveled a few miles off the coast in the tour guides tiny boat. Surrounded by Maine tourists, our boatmates kept asking my husband and I for the best lobster spots. Behind us our captain would share tales of his time out to sea and point to different wildlife as we passed. 

After what felt like years waiting to see if we’d be the lucky ones to spot a whale, a fin whale approaches our port side. Fun fact, the fin whale is the second largest whale, only surpassed by the blue whale. 

Imagine how small we felt in our tiny boat! 

I was so struck by the awe and beauty of the moment I cried tears of joy and happiness. 

Moments like these don’t need to be reserved for fancy trips abroad. 

All we have to do is seek the opportunities for awe and beauty in our backyard. 

Maybe this means you try skydiving or go for a hot air balloon ride. Whatever you’re seeking from your travels, most likely you can incorporate some element into your everyday life. 

Read More: 15 Best Gift Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

How Does Travel Change a Person?

Travel can have a dramatic impact on your life or it can change you in such a small way you hardly notice. 

Wherever you may fall in the future, I’ve listed below what my husband and I have experienced from traveling consistently for the last 6 years or so. We’ll cover everything from inspiring motivation to improving your mental health. 

Let’s get into it!

Travel Can Challenge Our Preconceived Notions

We all have images in our head of what places may be like, the types of people that live there, and what our overall experience may be. But when we allow travel to inspire us to think outside the box, we open up our mind to challenge preconceived notions of what we thought our experience would be. 

There seems to be a belief that in order to have an “epic” travel experience you need to go somewhere exotic, expensive, and far away. 

For example, who in their right mind would pick a boring state to visit when you could visit an african safari or the cities of Europe. Well, us. And maybe you too.  

Yes we want to visit all of those insanely beautiful and awe-inspiring destinations, but there’s a whole world out there and sometimes the most interesting places are the ones no one is talking about. 

Travel is what you make it and although we won’t be seeing elephants or lions in South Dakota, and we certainly won’t experience mountains like the Swiss Alps in West Virginia, that’s no reason not to visit. 

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

My husband and I often venture to states or destinations that make people think twice. We love off-the-beaten path places and sometimes that means RVing in states no one else thinks is cool, visiting lesser known destinations like Curacao, or traveling off-season like Iceland in November. 

While people may question you, you’ll be able to tell them stories of when you tried scrapple in West Virginia or the time you saw your first herd of buffalo in South Dakota. 

Read More: How to Plan an Unforgettable RV Road Trip

Travel is the Ultimate Classroom

The skills you can learn while on the road are limitless.

You can expand your knowledge in a traditional way by visiting a museum or taking a class.

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania

You can also learn just as easily by observing the world around you, noticing what you see and what that may mean about the world. 

Travel Brings History to Life

You most likely took history classes in school, but how often did you get a hands-on learning experience? 

When you travel, you get the chance to visit places steeped in history and cultural significance for yourself. 

Washington, DC

Seeking out historical sights might even be one reason you fall in love with traveling. 

Since we mostly RV in this stage of our lives, we are learning more and more about the history of the United States. 

We’ve explored places like Gettysburg, the Holocaust Memorial, and Harper’s Ferry, and the experiences were 100x more exciting than reading it from a textbook. 

Of course, history isn’t the only subject you can study while on the road. 

Practice a New Language While Traveling

Learning a new language is an admirable way to extend your skills and explore places in a more intimate way. 

On our trips to Spain and Puerto Rico we tried our best to practice the Spanish language we had been teaching ourselves through apps like Duolingo. We were terrible. The locals gave us sympathetic looks and spoke to us in English right after, BUT we tried! 

Rincon, Puerto Rico

And now one of our best memories of our trip to Spain is when my husband attempted to order two bottles of water in Spanish and instead of “por favor” replied, “porfiff” – we laughed so hard afterward! 

We have A LOT to learn about Spanish and honestly, the real way to learn the language would be to try and speak it every day. I hope one day we’ll get the opportunity to joke with new friends in a new language! 

Read More: How to Travel with Limited Time Off

Travel Will Allow You to Reconnect to Yourself

Each trip you take, near or far, will enable you to discover layers to yourself that you haven’t yet discovered. 

For me, I’ve learned I prefer nature-based destinations over cities. 

I always thought I would prefer to visit the big cities, but after every trip where we would travel to state parks or national parks, I realized how peaceful I felt while in nature. Whereas our trips to cities, although exciting, ultimately didn’t make me feel at home. 

Clingman’s Dome, Great Smoky Mountains

Similarly, Ben and I have both learned we prefer to travel just ourselves. We love spending time with our families, but we often have different budgets, expectations, and interests, and that can be challenging to manage. 

The things you can learn about yourself are limitless and quite exciting if you’re open to it. 

Traveling Will Make You Appreciate Home

Traveling to distant lands may lead to loving your home state or country even more. You’ll come to appreciate the familiarity, the ease, and your relationships at home. 

We have to admit, doing even the simplest of errands while traveling can be challenging. But when we are home we know exactly where the grocery store is. We know which gas stations offer the best deal and which farmer’s markets to get our produce from. And if you’re in trouble, you have multiple people to lend a hand. 

It takes weeks, if not months to truly connect with a place to where it feels like you can let your guard down and relax. 

Cutler, Maine

Planning Travel Gives You a Renewed Energy

There are studies that say the best part of travel is the planning before the trip. 

If you’ve ever planned a trip, I’m sure you can relate. 

You’re so excited to plan your route, find the best accommodations, and the best things to do. 

In between our travel plans, I absolutely love the planning process. 

There are so many possibilities it can be overwhelming at times, but I try to stay mindful of what makes us happiest when traveling and focus on those activities and destinations. 

Since we don’t often visit the same destination twice it means we are always on the lookout for new places to wander.  

Read More: How to Plan a Trip from Start to Finish

Travel Improves Your Patience and Resiliency

Travel is not without obstacles and challenges. 

Over the years, we’ve been lost, delayed, sick, frustrated, and angry with each other. 

There will always be challenges while you’re traveling, but as long as you take a deep breath, eat a snack, and have a good laugh, you’ll be fine!

A friend of mine was recently sharing how his flight got canceled during a trip to the UK and he had to scramble to find new transportation in between countries. I smiled to myself and thought, “Yup, that’s part of the process!”. It’s not always sunshine and butterflies, but it’s still so worth it. 

Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia

Travel Encourages You to Slow Down – If You’re Doing it Right

One of the reasons I adore RVing are the early morning moments where I can drink my tea while sitting outside as the day starts. 

Of course, you don’t need to be in an RV to experience the relaxation and peace of an early morning. You can get the same serenity from a walk along a beach, or a calming moment in nature. 

In order to achieve this level of peace you have to recognize that you can’t do it all. 

Kendra Wheeler

If you only have two weeks in a destination you can’t visit every postcard worthy town. You can’t try every amazing dish in the city, and you can’t possibly fit in every “must-see”/”can’t miss” attraction. 

For years I tried. I tried to do and see it all and it only left me unsatisfied with our trip. 

We once visited all 6 New England states in a week and moved to a new hotel each night. 

It was definitely doable, but it wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been. 

I am constantly at a battle with myself of wanting to see it all and realizing I won’t ever be able to. The world is HUGE and we only get so much time. 

The quicker you come to realize this, the more enjoyable your trip will be. 

Travel Inspires You to Be Better

You may have goals you’re trying to achieve outside of traveling. Perhaps career, relationship, or personal development-focused.

Whatever your goals are, travel can be a catalyst for motivation and success. 

Cape Egmont Lighthouse, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Adventurous Travel Requires a Fit Mind, Body, and Soul

Some of the best trips are ones that we have to plan for in advance. We need to get our bodies, minds, and belongings ready to go! 

We’ve been dreaming of hiking beautiful hikes in the midwest and western US states. 

This year, as we plan to visit Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, we’ve been training for a 13 mile hike we plan to do on our trip. Without the trip, we wouldn’t feel as inspired to hike as often or as far. 

Travel Encourages You to Spend Money on Experiences Over Things

During my day job, I help others improve their personal finances, so I love a good ol’ budget. 

And traveling is a great motivation to save money

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Again, it doesn’t matter if you need to save for a small trip or a large round-the-world trip. 

Once you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, it’s hard not to travel soon after.

You’ll find yourself sacrificing other indulgences in order to save more money for travel. This is a huge reason we became debt free because we didn’t want anything to hold us back from living the life we wanted. 

Lastly, Travel Encourages You to Dream

I love how travel inspires you to think bigger, dream a little deeper, and take on opportunities you wouldn’t normally consider. 

Once you realize that even small dreams are in fact doable, you might find yourself dreaming further. Now that safari in Africa doesn’t feel so far away. All that limits you is yourself. 

Final Thoughts

There are so many reasons to travel, we each have our own.

No matter why you decide to venture outside of your home state or country, you will always find positive things to take away from your trip.