As the New Year is upon us we all start thinking about what we want to accomplish in the coming year, or what we would like to do differently than the past year. Maybe this year you will invest in buying your first home, starting a family, or finishing that degree you started. These are worthy goals, investments that have value and have been shown to us all throughout our lives as the path we should follow. But what if we decided to invest in Travel? Does a life investment in deep, meaningful, and transformative experiences have the same value, the same validity, as those other things? And if it doesn’t, why is that? At Travel Life Adventures we have a deeply held belief that our experience, our knowledge, and the impact we leave behind are the only things that we can truly take with us when we leave here, to wherever we go when we pass. So in that sense travel brings more value to our lives, more meaning and fulfillment, than almost anything else we can do or possess. In the spirit of the New Year and thinking ahead to what it will bring, here are a few reasons why we believe that travel is the best investment you can make.
There is a famous quote from Mark Twain, that says “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” We have found this to be profoundly true in our years of travel. When you choose to travel and see how people live, you understand the privilege and place you have in this world. The small things you might take for granted like access to electricity, clean water, and an over abundance of food cease being small and take on immense meaning in your life. This helps you live a life with more joy and appreciation for the things you have and those around you. It also compels action in you, a sense that to honor the gifts you were given, we must give them away ten fold. You begin to see the world, the human and non-human Earth, as part of who you are, as an integral piece of our human experience that deserves recognition, respect, and compassion. Hatred born from misunderstanding and false assumptions can’t live in a world where our interconnection with each other and ourselves is strengthened through travel.
Meeting Your People
One of the best thing about traveling is not just seeing the sites or having an adventure of some sort, but it really comes down to the people you meet. The places that we have fallen in love with the most are the places where we feel the deepest human connections, where our extended family live and where we met them. Whenever we return to these places we are able to meet for dinner or stay with them for a few nights and it really makes you feel more at home when you’re in a different country. The value this brings to our lives can’t be measured by return on investments or bottom lines or interest rates. It is a value that transcends material bounds and taps into a deeper level of who we are and who we want to be. An investment in travel is an investment in ourselves and a more compassionate and loving world.
Gaining Of Knowledge
Reading about a place or learning about a country through reference material is valuable and is something we should all do, but it can never match just going and seeing for yourself. Growing up I had preconceived ideas of what I thought Africa was like: a sad place with people who were teetering on the edge of death and in constant peril who lacked understanding of how to make their lives better. This could not have been farther from the truth. After spending 5 years traveling in East Africa, a few months at a time, I learned and saw and felt what a beautiful, rich and incredible people this country is home to. Yes, I learned about the challenges that face people in this part of the world, but I also learned how those challenges are being overcome by smart, loving, skilled, and empowered local people. I came to understand that a single story of any place is never the complete story and to deprive people of the opportunity to tell their own story is a great injustice. When we choose to travel it gives us an education that can’t be purchased. It is true life experiences that live in our souls.
Understand That Globalization Is Real
Traveling for us is usually spent with indigenous groups or nomadic communities learning about their cultures, traditions, history and forming bonds while having an incredible experience and adventure. When you travel you understand that globalization is affecting everyone from the wild lands of Mongolia to the bustling city of Kathmandu. There are valid arguments on both sides of this about the positive or negative effect of globalization, but what is clear is that the widespread “modernization” of indigenous and traditional cultures is often times about changing and stripping people of their choice to live the life they most want to live. That more often than not the changes are imposed by outside influences and come at the expense of ancient practices and ways of life. Change is inevitable and change can be positive in making people’s lives easier. But the change our actions as travelers and individuals have on the rest of the world must be understood and mitigated as much as possible. When we travel we begin to see that the choices we make impact billions of others and seemingly benign actions can ripple and cause devastation on the other side of the world. The hope is that we can be more conscious of our choices and live in a way that is in harmony with the Earth and with each other.
All of the amazing experiences we have been privileged to have are priceless and can never be monetized and the impact on our life can never be truly measured. Houses, cars, degrees, and material possessions are great and can bring joy to our lives, but travel can be equally valuable and should be equally seen as a worthy and important investment in our lives. The narrative of our society is that travel is “frivolous” or “extra” or something you do when you have “made it.” We challenge that narrative and encourage you to see within a different paradigm. One where experience and experiential knowledge, where interpersonal connection and harmony with the Earth are seen as worthy investments that can be the centerpiece of a full human existence. Travel is worth the investment not just for ourselves personally, but for the world around us. Growing as individuals should not stop when we leave college, start our career, or have a family. Personal growth should always be something we invest in. When we have a broader view of the world around us, we take those fears that we believe to be true of people or places and shatter that false narrative. As a society we must choose to invest in the world and one of the best ways to do that is to invest in travel.