If there’s one thing I always bring back after traveling, it’s a better version of me.
For me, traveling is transformative.
It’s those little challenges—the language barriers, driving on the other side of the road, transport logistics, not having Wi-Fi at the Airbnb. They push me. They mold me.
It’s seeing how others live—eating dinner at nine, living with no air-conditioning, seeing a family of 20 sit down for a meal. It broadens my horizons. It fills me with empathy and understanding.
It’s the closeness—from being in a country where no one speaks your language but your travel partner, where no one knows your name, where no one follows you on social media. It builds trust and fills my heart with adoration.
I know traveling transforms me, and I think it could transform the world, or at least the people in it.
If you want to be transformed by travel, here are my top suggestions on how to travel more and get more out of it.
1. Look at how you earn a living. If your job requires that you be at the office, do you really need to be there? Could you start working once a week remotely and build from there? In my experience, if you can just build the trust from managers, you can easily take off for multi-week trips, checking in a couple days a week and continuing to be a valued team member while traveling.
2. Find other people passionate about traveling and make them a bigger part of your life. Going at anything alone is a daunting and difficult task. But if you have a support system around you interested in sharing their travels and hearing about yours, it will inspire you to get out more often.
3. How’s your budget? Do you spend your money in accordance with what’s most important in your life? I often look back at our monthly statements and wish I hadn’t spent the money on that dinner out or that thing I don’t really need in my apartment. I would have been much happier with spending the money to travel. So, yeah, check out those monthly statements and ask yourself if you need to reprioritize.
Get More Out Of It
1. Live like a local. I think this is a bit overplayed at this point, but it’s so common to hear because it makes all the difference. Avoid the swanky hotels, the tourist trap restaurants, and the “attractions.” None of the things I listed above about how travel transforms me had anything to do with bucket lists or must-see places. I promise it’s in the people and the culture. Stay at an Airbnb in a local neighborhood, buy groceries at a market, walk everywhere, and get out of the city once in a while. Immersing yourself in something new is such a mind-expanding experience.
2. Spend money. I know I said earlier that you should watch your wallet, but that’s so that you can open it up when you travel. Long layovers and slow buses eat up the precious amount of time you have while on the road. Have the drinks and apps at dinner, because, 1) they’re likely cheaper than at home and, 2) meals are such an experience in most cultures. Western culture has transformed meals into fuel for the day, but in most cultures, meals are events meant to be savored and enjoyed, so take your time and enjoy the experience. In general, remember that money spent isn’t a sunk cost; it’s an investment in your growth.
3. Keep a scrapbook. Not for your coffee table, but for you. We all forget. And when we forget, we lose part of that new person we’ve made. A scrapbook, with just two to three pictures of each trip, can transport you back. It can help you see the sights, smell the smells, and, most importantly, feel the feelings you felt in those moments when your travel experiences made a real impact on you.
If you have an awesome transformative story or some additional tips and advice, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.