The Profit of Travel
Written by: Charneise Alston, M.Ed
The profit of traveling yields a significant return on one’s outlook. With each new experience added into your mental Rolodex, traveling makes you well-rounded and exposes you to different cultures, food, languages, lifestyles, and people whom you would not normally encounter otherwise. For many, the biggest deterrent for traveling is the expense. However, technology has conveniently made traveling an affordable luxury curated for all budgets in mind. Yes, countless apps are designed to make your dream destination a reality. Hotel accommodations, transportation, and even door-to-door food services are all available at your disposal and executed with a simple click from your electronic device.
Why travel? There are numerous advantages of traveling. Traveling generally fosters happiness and satisfaction. Before you even arrive at your desired destination, sometimes packing your luggage is enough to trigger Dopamine and Serotonin activity because the physical preparation confirms the anticipated trip. Conversely, packing can be stressful to some so a check-list is helpful to mitigate the frustration of feeling overwhelmed.
An additional benefit of traveling is that, in most cases, you tend to break out of your shell. Stepping outside of your comfort is always uneasy, at first. However, trying new things becomes a personal investment. I used to be very rigid and closed-minded with my food preferences. My close friends would get frustrated with my refusal to venture out and diversify my eating habits. It was not until my first international trip to Jamaica, at the age of twenty-three, when I finally decided to eat Caribbean meals. And, guess what? I loved it!
Meeting new people and/or acquiring potential new business contacts are extra benefits to traveling. My favorite part of traveling is connecting with new people from different walks of life. My worldview has completely changed as a result of being open and respectful of other cultures. What I have come to realize most is that the human connection of shared experiences strengthens our tightly knit fabric of life. We are all more alike than different. Yet, the diversity makes life more vibrant. I have been fortunate to meet some amazing people during my travels.
As a writer, traveling inspires creativity. The serenity of a breath-taking landscape is revitalizing. Traveling can awaken your purpose for several reasons. When you are not burdened with your everyday routine and demand, you can seek to find peace and meditation. Also, many of us are not getting a sufficient night’s sleep, so while being on vacation one might allow the body to repair and rejuvenate after escaping the pressures of school or the workplace. When I travel, I like to become very present in the moment. I smell the air, dig my toes into the sand, feel the rays of the sun, submerge myself under water, and become immersed into the culture.
I recently traveled to Kenya, Egypt, and Israel. This last trip was life-changing for so many reasons. First, I traveled without the comfort of a friend or companion. This was my first international trip traveling alone. Scary, right? No, not at all. By this time I have embraced traveling, so much so, that I was actually looking forward to this new adventure. As expected, I developed some wonderful connections that later cultivated into genuine friendships. Always be willing to enlarge your circle of friends. For some, that is extremely hard. But as we continually evolve into different versions of ourselves, some connections are necessary for our growth. Do not fear being vulnerable enough to allow new people into your life.
The duration of my last trip was sixteen days. When traveling to Kenya, it required a fifteen hour flight. I was not accustomed to flight travels for longer than six hours so this was not an easy adjustment. However, I came prepared by bringing a laptop, books, movies and music. I made sure that I did not sleep before my flight so that I could rest well during my flight. You must be strategic when traveling. While things do not always go as planned, it’s good to have an itinerary and free-time to veer from the agenda when necessary. Flexibility is important because sometimes flights are delayed, hotels become unexpectedly full, and life tends to throw a surprising curveball every once in a while.
As a matter of fact, my flight from Kenya to Egypt was postponed a day because of mechanical problems with the plane. While some travelers were immediately agitated by this disappointing mishap, I chose to look deeper than the surface. My natural response was that it was not meant for me to fly out from Kenya according to the itinerary date. Moreover, my delayed flight was protecting me from an unforeseen danger. Although I pack light whenever I travel, I always bring my optimism. It’s as necessary as my passport and it keeps me with a contagious positive attitude.
When traveling in a group, someone will undoubtedly assume the role as the “wet-blanket.” Whenever traveling, there is always someone who will complain. Do not let that person shift your energy. Some people are more critical than others and some people are simply impossible to please. The purpose of a vacation is to enjoy yourself, so protect your newfound tranquility.
In the same vein, everyone does not vacation the same. Since I was going to be in Kenya for over a week, I wanted to make my trip impactful. The first half of my journey was for missionary purposes. I volunteered at an orphanage and served at a local church in Nairobi, Kenya. This part of my trip left an imprint on my heart. I worked harder than I expected and had to adjust to the small, living accommodations. May I make a confession? As a spoiled American, who was only used to western civilization culture, I had to learn the simplicity of contentment. My needs were met and that was enough. My service produced a beautiful transformation within myself and allowed me to have a profound respect for those who are rich in spirit.
The final advantage of traveling is that you return with a greater appreciation for home. Whether or not it was simply the comfort of your bed that you missed, there is truly no place like home. After returning home from my pilgrimage in Africa, I was grateful for my many blessings that I sometimes took for granted. I now appreciate the little things and express my gratitude more freely.
The great thing about traveling is that you can start small. I urge you to explore life without limits. There is a wealth of knowledge that you gain from traveling. If you make traveling a priority, you will see first-hand its profit. Life, itself, is a journey. So, why not see all that the world has to offer while you still have time? Stop daydreaming and make your next vacation a reality.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
~Augustine of Hippo~