Why Travel is (Psychologically) Good for You: Part One

traveler

backpacker ocean at sunset

 Photo by Paxon Woelber.

It’s a pity that we spend so much of our time actively trying to avoid feeling uncomfortable, because sometimes the most uncomfortable experiences are the most rewarding.

Travel Teaches You to Be Comfortable with Discomfort

If you want to know what makes you feel uncomfortable, you needn’t look further than the dozens of chores that have sat unfinished on your to do list. For me, that would include losing 10 pounds (exercise is uncomfortable), developing a daily meditation routine, (meditating is uncomfortable) and finishing my memoir (while writing in itself is pleasurable, writing my life story is hard work and involves sifting through painful memories. Again, uncomfortable).

But can you imagine how fulfilling my life would be if I faced what made me uncomfortable? I’d be fit, healthy and less stressed for one. And if I finally finished writing my book (which has been an ongoing project for over six years now), I imagine I’d feel more accomplished and self confident as well.

It’s a pity that we spend so much of our time actively trying to avoid feeling uncomfortable, because sometimes the most uncomfortable experiences are the most rewarding.

 

Travel quote

Take travel, for instance. While travel may be exciting in the planning stages or in the days afterwards when you’re clicking through your vacation photos on Facebook, when you’re in the middle of it, travel can seem like anything but.

Riding on a crowded bus on a dusty, unpaved road through the sweltering heat for example, walking through the rain with a 50-pound backpack when you can’t find a taxi, stumbling your way through a conversation with a waiter in a foreign language…these common travel situations are far from fun. In fact, they’re stressful and tiresome and yes, frequently uncomfortable. But they’re also useful as well.

Because if you can survive them, you’ll have gotten used to living outside your comfort zone, and this can help you when you return home. You’ll find you don’t have to fight yourself to face difficult tasks (like asking your boss for a raise, for example), because you’ll have already become an expert at awkward. You’ll have tackled far more disagreeable activities while on the road, which will make the normal uncomfortable situations you encounter in your everyday life seem easy.

Or that’s the theory anyway.

travel quote

I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of uncomfortable travel situations and yet my closet remains a mess, my taxes remain unfiled and though I joined the gym two months ago, I have yet to work out there.

Hmph.

What do you think? Has travel made you a better person? What has travel taught you?

 

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