7 Ways Travel Makes You FeelGooder

This post is by Ryan Barton of Smart Marketing.

“So, what do you think the chances are that we’ll catch our flight?”

“When does it leave?” asks the border agent.

“4:30.”

“You’ll be spending the night here in London, I’m afraid,” he says, handing back our passports. He glances at the line behind us, “Next!”

My wife and Iook at each other and sprint towards the baggage carousel. One bag, two bags, three bags, go!

Pushing our luggage ahead of us, we navigate the crowded corridor between baggage claim and the train to Terminal 1.

There’s only one flight a day; we have to catch this flight, we have to get home.

Image is author's own

Out of breath, we stumble to the subway platform; there’s no train.

“When’s the next train?!,” I blurt to the attendant. She looks at her watch, “‘Bout five minutes.”

The train arrives. Travelers get off, travelers get on, doors shut, and we’re on our way.

If we miss this flight, we’ll find a hotel? If we miss this flight, we’ll sleep on the floor? If we miss this flight…

Six minutes later, the subway doors open and a young American couple frantically begins their race towards the next terminal’s elevators.

Three weeks in Europe, and we’re spending our last few minutes sweating through Heathrow.

We charge out of the elevators and locate our airline’s check-in desk in the distance. We check our baggage, move through security (belt off, hat off, iPad out, no security alarms, iPad in, hat on, belt on, go!), and slide into the aircraft before the doors shut behind us.

Finally in our seats, my wife looks at her sweating husband. “You may want to change your shirt.”

Travel is an investment

It’s been three weeks since we returned home from our whirlwind tour of Europe.

Sure, our time in Heathrow may have been the most exciting, heart-pounding leg. It may have challenged our comfort levels and sanity more than any other country did. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. What a story; what an experience!

And while we were sad to return home, I’ve personally never had so much clarity, peace, and happiness as I do now.

For you, travel is getting from Point A to Point B. For many, it’s a means to relaxation. And for others, it’s the simple thrill of seeing a new stamp in a passport book.

Whatever the reason, when travelling, you collect amazing, memorable experiences along the way.

Removing yourself from daily routines refines who you are; it’s something new. It sharpens you, removes the excess, and re-energizes your soul.

7 ways travel will enhance your life

Travel is more than scoring a tan and eliminating the bags under your eyes; that’s what your backyard’s for.

Here’s why I travel; seven ways I believe it makes you a better person:

1. Clarity

I’m a huge advocate for changing your routines. When we’re in “the grind,” we dig ourselves into such a rut we can’t see out.

By changing routines, you’re forcing yourself to ask why you’re doing what you’re doing; maybe there’s a better way of doing it.

Travel does just that. From the moment you land in a new city, your routines change. You’re not driving, you’re walking. You’re not hustling around the office, you’re admiring new scenery.

Personally, I ask if it’s worth doing in the first place. And by eliminating burdensome tasks, I enjoy renewed clarity.

2. Perspective

Back at home, my morning routine was simple — wake up, turn on phone, check email, check Twitter, shower, check email, check Twitter… Chances are, you know the cycle too.

While traveling, my phone’s turned off. And after three weeks of breaking that cycle, suddenly Twitter wasn’t all that important; spending time with my wife was.

Two years ago, we traveled through Cartagena — an amazing city of color and culture.

But like many cities, the poverty surrounding historic locales reminds you how fortunate you are to live where you live, eat what you eat, and sleep in the comfy bed you do. Suddenly, all those minute problems you stress about don’t seem so big anymore.

3. Culture

In my beloved suburb outside Los Angeles, you’ll have a hard time finding a building older than 20 years. We live in a “new” city, where anything older has either deteriorated or been rebuilt.

Contrast that with Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia—Gaudi’s famed basilica that’s still being built 129 years after the project started and isn’t scheduled to be completed for another 15.

The same goes for having dinner in a Parisian café at midnight, snorkeling among the kelp forests in Alaska, or walking through the throngs of pigeons in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square.

That’s culture, that’s collecting stories, and that’s the complete opposite of walking through your neighborhood big box retailer.

Experiencing another’s culture — their food, their lifestyle, the things they prioritize—adds to your cultural quiver; that’s something you can’t buy locally.

4. Inspiration

At home, inspiration is elusive. It certainly doesn’t come from 10 hours in a cubical or a noisy cafe.

So I take long bike rides at night, I enjoy fresh air on morning walks, I play with the dogs—anything that isn’t explicitly “work.” Because that’s when the best ideas come—when I’m able to think without distraction.

When I’m travelling, my mind is elsewhere; and yet, travelling kick-starts idea fires. I don’t plan on it, but without fail, I smuggle new ideas back into the country.

Sometimes it’s a photograph, sometimes it’s people watching, sometimes it’s observing an old-time business owner greet loyal customers by name, and other times, it’s just getting out of your day-to-day rut.

5. Delegation

Are you like me? You firmly believe the best and only way to do something is by doing it yourself. That makes it really hard to let go. My wife and I had the great fortune of taking a month off for each of the last two years.

She had to learn to let go and delegate the care of her kids—the dogs—to somebody else. Let’s not even get started with how (and how often) the house was cleaned.

I had to learn how to give proactive and detailed feedback to my assistant so Rhyno continued operating in my absence.

If we hadn’t traveled, we never would’ve been presented with those challenges. But since, we’ve grown, we’ve learned, and we’re ready for what’s next.

6. Relationships

As the old adage goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. That’s why travel is great for building strong, boundary-respecting relationships.

Professionally, I told my clients I’d be off the grid and travelling. That meant working together to ensure all projects were wrapped before I left.

Because when I left, I was gone. No amount of emails, phone calls, text messages, Twitter DMs or carrier pigeons was going to yield a response. The result? My clients respected my time away, appreciated me upon my return, and were eager to get back to work when the vacation veil was lifted; so was I.

But the same principle also applies to our personal relationships. Look beyond the romantic cliches and you’ll see the same is true for your family and friends. Who can you not wait to see? Who’s greeting you at the airport when you’re back in town?

You’ll soon remember why some people are in your life and what makes them so special. Those are the people who fill you up and enrich your life; everybody else simply drains you dry.

7. Confidence

Inherently, travel will force you to do something you’re uncomfortable with; it’ll challenge your comfort zones over and over again. But that’s how you grow and discover new confidence.

When we sprinted through Heathrow and still made our flight, we triumphed. That built confidence.

When I taught her how to snorkel in Hawaii, she struggled to breathe, but conquered it in just an hour’s time. Now, she’s a pro, looking to dive in any country we visit.

Embrace the portions of travel that make you say “if I can do this, I can do anything.” Those confidence-building experiences are precious.

Do you have a travel story?

Has travel made you a better person? How has it helped you grow in ways you didn’t expect? Or maybe you have other reasons you enjoy travelling.

Whatever the case may be, share your story below!

Ryan Barton is the author of “Smart Marketing” — a 169-page marketing blueprint for small business success. Follow him on Twitter, Google+, or subscribe to his blog.

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Comments

  1. Travel has changed me. Especially one trip from Poland to Greece. I went alone, chose local trains and buses and learned a lot about me, my reactions, the world. From the first step you are out of your comfort zone. I also value the linguistic experience which has to do a lot with psychology. Not everyone speaks English and this way you learn to use Universalish, Human language.

  2. This is excellent! Dead on. I had a similar frantic experience while spending a weekend in Portugal. We missed our train and had to take a bus back to Spain. What should’ve been six hours of travel turned into about 16. My college classmates and I (we were studying abroad in Seville) rolled into town an hour before classes started on Monday morning. It was crazy, stressful, and the adventure of a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade experiences like those for the world.

    Having recently returned from nine days in Ireland, I can resonate with a lot of the lessons you learned, Ryan, particularly realizing how unimportant technology was when you were in the throes of REAL life. Amen and amen.

  3. Ryan,

    I truly enjoyed reading your post. My husband and I love, love, love to travel because it expands us, as well as the world as we know it.

    I wrote about how travel allows you to step outside of your comfort zone on my blog. You can read my post here: http://thepowertolive.com/462/shaking-the-snow-gloge-stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone/

    Thanks for sharing your perspective with me!

    Connie

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