My first real travel experience was 5 years ago in 2014. I say “real” because before that I had only travelled to New Zealand to see my family, but that doesn’t really count as it pretty much felt like home… In 2014, however, things really changed.
If I’m honest, the person I was before I started travelling is so distant from the person I am now; I’ve changed, grown, and developed into someone that I’m truly proud to be, and from the bottom of my heart, I don’t think this would be the case if it weren’t for my experiences over the last 5 years.
After spending some time reflecting, here are a few ways that travel has made me a better human being:
It taught me to care for the planet
From seeing melting glaciers in the northern hemisphere to an abundance of plastic waste in the pacific ocean… It’s hard not to care about the health of the planet when the impact is staring you straight in the face. Connecting with nature and experiencing its beauty is what pushes me to protect the Earth each and every day.
If I never stepped foot on a plane, I don’t think I would care about this beautiful planet as much as I do. I’ve used this quote many times before, but it’s fair to say that I resonate with it on a deep level:
“No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced” – Sir David Attenborough
If it weren’t for travel, I would still be a careless, wasteful, ignorant human being who would probably be denying the climate crisis and laughing at all who protest against it… Well maybe not that far, but I think you get the point. Seeing first hand the impact that humans have on the planet is what woke me up, shook me into gear, and made me think hard about my actions and the destructive systems that are destroying what we have.
I wouldn’t be the activist I am today if it weren’t for travel, that’s for certain.
It made me compassionate and adopt a holistic view
You meet a huge variety of people when you travel; many that have totally different cultural backgrounds, who have differing beliefs and opinions, and who literally come from all walks of life. It’s confronting, eye-opening and often a slap in the face, but one thing’s for sure… It teaches you to be compassionate.
To me, the backbone of responsible travel is seeing things from a different perspective, and through my years of adventures, trying to see other people’s point of view has now become part of my everyday life. I no longer just run with my own opinion and assume that it’s right… I now see the beauty in diversity, the art of listening, the importance of understanding and most importantly, how vital it is to think holistically.
Travel quickly teaches you that nothing is black and white, and that being a better human being starts with viewing other perspectives, being compassionate and respectful, and thinking about all aspects instead of jumping to conclusions. Life is both beautiful and complex, and travel will quickly teach you that.
It forces me to be present and value human connection
I don’t think anyone could deny that living in the present makes you a better human… In the era of technology and social media, being glued to a screen has become the new norm. It disconnects you from life, human interaction and listening to the people that are standing right in front of you.
But travel often strips that away and forces you to live fully and deeply in the present; to detox from modern technology and strip things right back to the core. For me, it reminds me of what it means to be a decent human being… One who looks people in the eye, who has meaningful conversations, who asks people how they really are, and who connects with physical human beings rather than focusing on strangers on the other side of a screen.
It made me recognize my privilege and challenge everything that I thought I knew
Before I started travelling I was well and truly living in my little privileged bubble. I was selfish, careless, and a shallow-minded teen. I thought I knew about privilege, but in reality, I was brainwashed and I hadn’t even grasped it.
Talking to local people, asking questions, and getting used to being uncomfortable are a few of the things that challenge me on the daily. Travel forces you to open your mind and heart, to absorb new things, to break free from rigid ideas and to think deeply about the systems that influence the world around us.
To be honest, I wish I didn’t have to travel in order to realize how exceedingly privileged I am, but I did. And I couldn’t be more thankful for how these experiences have opened my eyes and made me question and challenge everything that I thought I knew. I am now far more aware of just how lucky I am, how harmful certain systems are, and what I can do in order to help dismantle them.
It taught me to always stand up for what is right
Environmental concerns, racism, capitalism, the climate crisis, women’s rights… These are just a few of the issues that I care deeply about.
I don’t think it’s necessarily the experiences that I’ve had while travelling that have encouraged me to use my voice for good… I think it’s the simple fact that travel has helped me identify my own personal values and beliefs. That in itself is enough for me to understand right from wrong, to not hide behind my privilege, to learn when to pass the mic, to be intersectional in my activism, and to stand up for what is right.
Thanks travel… You’ve made me a better human and I couldn’t be more grateful ♡
Over to you – tell me how travel has made YOU a better human being!