“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that's enlightenment enough — to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” — Anthony Bourdain
It was a cool and crisp morning in Istanbul. I made my way to the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, the crown jewel of the city. Walking through cobble-stone streets I felt as if I had suddenly been transported back to the times of the Ottomans. I imagined seeing merchants selling goods brought over from the Orient and the sights of ships being loaded with exotic spices to be sent around the world. I turned the corner and entered a large public square. That’s when it hit me. I was in awe and amazement standing right in front of the Hagia Sofia. I had seen photos of this grand building since I was a child but seeing it in person just blew me away. The grandeur of Hagia Sophia and learning about its history by speaking with local guides helped me truly appreciate the importance of this grand building. This was the moment I knew I had arrived in Istanbul and a great beginning to my journey.
Traveling is transformative because it wakes up all our senses and helps us better understand ourselves and the world we live in. Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, who has studied the connection between creativity and international travel says “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.”
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
Here are five transformative benefits of traveling which can have a profound effect on you:
1. Traveling increases your empathy
Traveling to new places helps you to notice just how alike we all are in our humanity. Whether you’re in South Korea, Chile, South Africa, Bangladesh you will come to the realization that everyone has the same needs and wants. Making a connection with local residents helps to increase your empathy and see the world in a new light.
2. Traveling gets you out of your comfort zone
In our daily lives, we become insulated with seeing the same things over and over again. This can narrow our perceptions and insulate us from other ways of thinking. Getting out and meeting people and experiencing their culture and way of doing things helps you see issues from a different perspective.
3. Traveling helps you practice your patience
When traveling, something will eventually go wrong. Whether dealing with flight delays, long lines at security checkpoints or even getting lost in a new country, you can use those moments as opportunities to practice patience. Being mentally prepared for things to go wrong will help you remain calm and enjoy your days.
4. Traveling increases your mindfulness
Having the opportunity to be in another city or country and meeting new people, visiting historic sites, and eating the local cuisine is a great way to experience a new culture. Being in the moment helps us soak it all in. Not having cellular phone access can provide a much needed digital detox to help you be present and in the moment.
5. Traveling stimulates all your senses
Your senses get a jolt when you travel to new places by taking in new sights, sounds, and tastes as you explore a city. Exploring the architecture, hearing the sounds of a busy market, or tasting a local dish will help arouse your senses so you can truly immerse yourself in the new place.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
By traveling to new places you have the opportunity to return renewed. The journey you take when traveling helps you broaden your horizons and upon returning home, you can look back at the great memories of how a place you hardly knew before changed you.
My recent trip to Istanbul has positively changed me. I have become more mindful and stay in the moment. I have a better understanding of Turkey through the wonderful memories of the friendly people, amazing historical mosques, the delicious food. Istanbul will forever be with me. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
I wish you safe travels!
I would love to learn how traveling has changed you. Have you visited a new city or country? Share your thoughts in the comments below.