Additional benefit: photos like this one

Additional benefit: photos like this one

In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, I really love to travel. Of course, there are lots of great reasons to travel, and plenty of life-changing benefits. You get first-hand experience with people and places you’d only read about before, you learn patience and flexibility, and you get a fresh perspective on your own life. Each time I’ve traveled abroad, I’ve expected to get all of that. But there have also been surprising and unexpected rewards. Here are five benefits of traveling that I wasn’t counting on:

  1. You get good stories. Hands down my best stories come from my travel experiences. They make great fodder for first dates, parties, job interviews, etc. I love listening to other people’s stories, and it’s nice to have a few of my own in my back pocket.
  2. You have a memory of yourself being brave that you can draw upon during stressful times. If I have to do something scary like give a presentation or drive a car (these are the things that are scary forme), it’s useful to remember that I’ve been completely lost in the Dominican Republic, I’ve been stranded in the Italian countryside, and I’ve jumped out of a plane. Whatever it is I’m facing, I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it.
  3. You have a source of great gifts for friends and family. I’ve written about how I am an inconsistent gift-giver. One trick for no-fail gifting is to bring back awesome souvenirs from your travels. Now I pretty much plan to buy gifts when I travel, and don’t worry about it otherwise. Sweet!
  4. The world really does feel like your oyster. I’ve found that the more I travel, the more I want to travel. I think the feeling I crave more than anything is freedom, and travel provides an endless supply of it.
  5. It feels like an accomplishment. I’ll admit that traveling is difficult for me. It’s often hard for me to eat well when I’m abroad (much of the world isn’t yet gluten-free-friendly). It’s hard for me to be out of my regular routine, to not speak the local language, and to not know where I’m going. It’s really hard for me to not have alone time. But all of these things are the reason why when I come home from a travel experience, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

What are your unexpected benefits from traveling?

p.s. My current top five destinations are:

  1. Antarctica
  2. India
  3. Finland
  4. New Zealand
  5. Vietnam