How Traveling Improves Your Quality of Life

How Traveling Improves Your Quality of Life

Way back when during prehistoric times, one of my best friends in high school and I were talking about what the future would hold for us one day. She happened to mention that one of her desires was to leave Alabama. Having never traveled more than 20 miles from her birthplace, she figured it was time for a change. At the time, it seemed incredulous to me that she had never crossed state lines, so I fully supported that wish.

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Long story short, she never left. I believe that she had wanted to, but didn’t know how to put her plan into action. I think that there are many people like her who feel stuck and in a rut, so their solution is to do nothing. Many years later, she still hasn’t and attributes her previous lamentations to youthful flights of fancy.

quality

I don’t like to focus on a life of regrets or what-might-have-been, but I can’t help to think about what opportunities she’s missed. She has settled comfortably into a life where she only gets to see the beauty of the Maasai through photographs gracing the pages of National Geographic. She will only get to experience that moment through someone else’s vantage point and never realize the sheer joy of witnessing first hand, the completeness that traveling brings to a life.

I believe that my friend has a good and happy life. Still, I can’t help but wonder how much more fulfilling it would be had she allowed herself to be exposed to things outside her comfort zone. I think traveling offers you so much more than fancy stamps on your passport. I believe it makes you a bonafide citizen of the world and exposes you to things that are not censored by media outlets. It gives you a first person look at the beauty and ugliness of life. There are no filters to obfuscate the realities of life, in some ways, it offers a more realistic view of what’s really going on in the world. In fact, it’s confirmation that we really aren’t so different. No matter how rich a country is, there is always a segment of the population who aren’t as fortunate.

More importantly, it helps us to bridge the differences between cultures. I think unfamiliarity breeds contempt; people tend to fear the unknown and mistrust things that they do not understand. At the end of the day, a father living in Bangladesh wants his family to be as happy as a family living happily in a high rise in upper Manhattan. Though we may have different ways of living, of worshiping, of dreaming….we all want what’s best for our loved ones….we all have dreams for our families. That is the great equalizer….we all seek peace, harmony, and joy in our everyday living. Such is the human condition; we simply have our own unique ways of trying to achieve them.

Photo Credit: youalreadyknowthisstuff.com

One of the truisms borne out of this Internet generation is that the world is getting smaller. Electronic communication has opened up so many gateways to people and places we wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to. I think this makes our quality of life more interesting, complex and exciting. I believe it makes us more well-rounded, educated, open and willing to take risks. It creates an instant community between people from all over the globe who share specific interests and the willingness to help one another is nothing short of amazing. Reaching across the chasm of space and in some respects, time, I believe we can create a new understanding between cultures. We fear that which is foreign to us; if we resolve to knock down the walls that tend to divide us, we can create a spirit of brotherhood instead of conflict.

Photo Credit: “another story” on Flickr

Isn’t that what truly matters anyway?


Comments

comments

Renee King
aviewtoathrill@gmail.com
60 Comments
  • Dan Collins
    Posted at 15:20h, 20 March Reply

    Everybody should travel! Even if it’s only once, experiencing new things is just awesome. Now I know it improves your quality of life, I definitely recommend it! ha ha
    Dan Collins recently posted…New Website!My Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 15:24h, 20 March Reply

      LOL! You’ve said it, Dan….experiencing new things is AWESOME!

  • glen
    Posted at 16:50h, 20 March Reply

    Very well said, Renee. I think what you said about bridging gaps between cultures is so true, and that’s one of the rewards of traveling.
    glen recently posted…Adventures in Mexico City’s ZócaloMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 09:16h, 21 March Reply

      Thanks, Glen. You can never go wrong reaching out to others.

  • Alouise
    Posted at 22:23h, 20 March Reply

    I love this post. I’m always amazed that some people have never left their home country, or state/province or even city. I realize some people don’t have the means or ability to travel, but moreso I think many are held back by fear, fear of the unknown, fear of failure. And I know how is it is to get busy with life and slip into a routine, where days turn into months and then into years. It’s important to go out and see the world with your own eyes, and to experience different cultures. I love how you say unfamiliarity breeds contempt. A lot of times I’ve found when someone is grumbling about another culture or country, they actually haven’t had any firsthand, direct experience with that culture or country… they’ve just heard/seen stereotypes in the media.
    Alouise recently posted…Let’s Go To New ZealandMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 09:26h, 21 March Reply

      Ok, Alouise….obviously, you are my sister from another mister. I agree 150% with what you’ve said. Thanks for coming by, dear.

    • deb
      Posted at 22:19h, 23 March Reply

      Funny thing is…I am not that fearful. However, I have yet to travel the world. A childhood dream of mines.

      Renee, I just found your blog through another blog I was reading.

      Go Saints!!!! hahaha

  • inka
    Posted at 01:44h, 21 March Reply

    Citizen of the world just sums it up, Renee. And thanks for the enthusiastic comment on the jewels in Munich. I tell you, my fingers itched…
    inka recently posted…The charm of the backsideMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 09:38h, 21 March Reply

      Thanks, Inka! You were a strong woman indeed….but you did the right thing! lol

  • The Dropout
    Posted at 04:17h, 21 March Reply

    A spirit of brotherhood sounds wonderful, especially now when there’s more trouble in the Middle East.
    Nice thoughts, Renee. Thanks for sharing.
    The Dropout recently posted…Dumpling Devotion In SingaporeMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 09:23h, 21 March Reply

      I’m reminded of the old Dionne Warwick song, “What the world needs now (is love, sweet love)”. Maybe I’m delusional, but I still hold on to something called Hope. It’s the one thing that keeps us going despite what we witness on a daily basis.

  • Gray
    Posted at 07:18h, 21 March Reply

    Great post, Renee. Naturally, I agree with you. I know many people who have never left Vermont, not even for a week’s vacation (and it’s not always about lack of money, just lack of interest). I don’t get that at all. But those do tend to be the people who believe everything they hear in the media about other places–because that’s the only knowledge base they have.
    Gray recently posted…2011- Where Am I GoingMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:50h, 21 March Reply

      Thanks, Gray. I know that you don’t feel this way, but I hope I’m not coming across as thinking those who don’t travel are sad and miserable human beings. It’s like finding a new love (traveling) and trying to convince everyone that you know how wonderful it is. Some will feel the same way and some won’t. I am willing to accept there will be many who will have no interest and that’s ok. We all have different things that move us….I just hope everyone pursues theirs whatever it may be.

  • B
    Posted at 07:58h, 21 March Reply

    Interesting. I just did CTRL + F and entered the words “expensive” “cost” “money” and “poor” and got no hits…while I support and would advise wanderlust, some people are a little out of touch as to why people don’t or can’t travel.

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:30h, 21 March Reply

      Hi B,

      This piece was more philosophical than an actual how-to, but you are welcome to read the rest of my site where I give ideas on how to travel on a budget. I welcome your comment because you are where I was many years ago. I found every excuse in the book not to travel (when I really wanted to) I cried poverty too until I realized that I somehow found the money to buy a bigger tv set or a lot of clothes that still had the tags on them. It was about priorities….as with anything….if you truly desire to do something, you actually have to get off of your toukas and make it happen.

      If you do not want to travel, then this article isn’t for you. I’m not trying to force anyone to do something that they have no desire to do. I’m simply stating MY opinion as to why I think it’s important. I especially wanted to reach out to people who have given me some really lame excuses as to why they do not travel. I have a friend Greg, whose website is called “I’m black and I travel”. I thought the title was profound because I have heard many times in my life “Black people don’t travel”. They were serious. They truly believed that traveling was for (let me just be honest here) white people. Some would be taken aback that I would want to leave the country. They were simply living in a limited worldview and all I could do was try to convince them that the world belonged to all of us not a select few.

      Though I may be crying in the wilderness, I still stand by my assertion that travel adds something special to my life. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Adam
        Posted at 09:19h, 21 March Reply

        Renee, I totally agree with you here. It’s all about making it a priority in your life. Sure, there are many people out there who can hardly meet those basic needs, so traveling simply isn’t going to be a priority for them. But there are also plenty of people out there who say they can’t afford to travel, but they spend thousands of dollars a month of house and car payments, won’t think twice about spending $100+ on a dinner out, and have flat screens, nice furniture, and nice clothing. All that stuff is fine and good, and if that’s what makes you happy, then good for you. I’m certainly not going to tell someone how to live their life.

        But I also dislike someone saying to me, “You’re so lucky that you’ve been to so many amazing places.” No, it’s not luck, it’s what I’ve made a priority in my life. I don’t have the nice house, the nice car, and all the stuff because I prefer to spend my money on travel instead. It’s all about what you really want out of life, for most people anyway.
        Adam recently posted…Picture of the Week — New OrleansMy Profile

        • Renee
          Posted at 09:36h, 21 March Reply

          O.M.G., Adam….don’t get me started. I’ve heard the luck thing too. Luck is finding a shiny penny as you cross the street and managing not to get hit by an on-coming car. Luck is winning the lottery and leaving town before long forgotten kinfolk gets wind of it. Luck is something that is out of your control and beyond what any of us can do ourselves. Most of us have done (and are still doing) the 9-5er and have made conscious and deliberate sacrifices to do this.

  • jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World
    Posted at 12:29h, 21 March Reply

    I feel sad for your friend. I’d like to think that if it’s something that you want to do (whether it’s traveling, starting or your own business, or whatever), it naturally becomes your priority. But I guess when you’re not inspired, like you said ‘stuck in a rut’ — it’s hard to put your mind into taking that first step.

    Hope your friend finds her inspiration and happiness somewhere else.
    jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted…Why Did The Grizzly Cross the StreetMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 13:47h, 21 March Reply

      Hi Jill,
      You know in some ways, I believe it was fear. The more I think about it, she always struck me as being wary of leaving what was familiar to her. She could control her immediate surroundings, but how can you control something you are utterly unfamiliar with? I don’t mean she was a control freak, I just think she lacked the confidence in knowing that she could do anything she set her mind to. She is a smart woman, but she didn’t know her own power.

  • Pauline
    Posted at 12:56h, 21 March Reply

    Hi Renee, just wanted to say I LOVE this post! It reminds me of the best part of travel. And that while I totally understand travel takes money, you guys are right, most people can afford it if they make it a priority (my friends know travel is the ONLY thing I’ll splurge on). Keep up the good work!
    Pauline recently posted…The 12 hottest men at the LA Times Travel &amp Adventure ShowMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 14:05h, 21 March Reply

      Hi Pauline!
      Thanks for your wonderful comment. It really is about deciding what matters to you and there is no right or wrong answer, it’s what you value in life.

  • Jillian
    Posted at 13:01h, 21 March Reply

    Oh the “lucky” thing really gets under my skin too! I can’t tell you how many times we hear that and I just want to shout at people who say it. Life is about choices, you make yours, I make mine. I chose not to buy a new purse, TV, get cable, etc… I chose to spend my money improving my quality of life through travel!

    grrr….

    Great post Renee!

    • Renee
      Posted at 14:58h, 21 March Reply

      Jillian,
      That is the very reason why we are canceling our uverse service. We watch about 10 of the 300 channels and rarely make phone calls. I’m keeping the high speed internet simply because I’m not crazy…or at least no one has been able to prove it. Yet….

  • Jozef
    Posted at 14:50h, 21 March Reply

    Totally agree with this! Back in the UK so many people go straight to university after secondary school, but I wish more would take a year out to travel. It is the perfect time!
    Jozef recently posted…The Pantanal Day 1My Profile

  • Grace
    Posted at 22:48h, 21 March Reply

    Very well said Renee. I just heard a quote from Mark Twain that I immediately thought of while reading this:

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”- Mark Twain

    How true it is- sometimes I think if people traveled more the world would be a better place!
    Grace recently posted…What you can learn from the time I escaped a dangerous scamMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:38h, 22 March Reply

      I love that quote….It’s one of the quotes on my homepage too. Darn…I should have used it in the article because it’s very appropriate. Thanks, Grace!

  • robin
    Posted at 07:29h, 22 March Reply

    Another very thoughtful post – you put so much into these Renee and it shows.
    robin recently posted…Seriously- CarnavalMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:34h, 22 March Reply

      Thanks, Robin….I really appreciate that!

  • Ayngelina
    Posted at 09:47h, 22 March Reply

    You know I’m one of the few people who doesn’t think travel is for everyone. Even though it’s my dream to travel indefinitely I don’t think it’s the same for others. Even on my travels I’ve met locals perfectly content to stay where they are, with no desire to go farther than the neighboring town.
    Ayngelina recently posted…blog4NZ- Delicious New ZealandMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:54h, 22 March Reply

      I definitely hear you. I think it’s a matter of degree….sure, it’s definitely not for everyone. I don’t think that I will ever be independently located, but I can see the attraction. On the other hand, some couldn’t do it any other way. It’s just my humble opinion, that those that don’t….do not know what they are missing. I don’t expect everyone to subscribe to my way of thinking though….everyone has to do what is best for them. I think traveling is an inspiration. If someone is not inspired to move beyond their immediate circle, it would never appeal to them.

  • Norbert
    Posted at 21:34h, 23 March Reply

    Great post Renee! I totally agree! One of the best things to improve life is knowing beyond our little spot on earth and bridging the cultural gap many of us have…
    Norbert recently posted…Things That Have Inspired Me to Go to New ZealandMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:22h, 29 March Reply

      Thanks, Norbert…..the world would be a much better place if we understood one another.

  • Samantha Bangayan
    Posted at 22:43h, 23 March Reply

    This is a post I really identify with, Renee! I came upon your blog through the LinkedIn group we share and can’t wait to read more. I’ve found that more so than traveling, living in another country has had a profound impact on the way I now live and view the world. I’ve recently been reflecting on your exact thoughts about how connected we all are. =) Thanks for expressing the value of travel so beautifully.
    Samantha Bangayan recently posted…A Global Community in the DesertMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:42h, 24 March Reply

      Thanks so much, Samantha! I admire expats….to be able to totally immerse yourself in another culture….what a life!

  • Suzy
    Posted at 06:41h, 24 March Reply

    Great reflection. I couldn’t agree more. While I know some people can’t step outside their comfort zones and travel, a simple trip can change a life, even just two hours away. I think your point about travel opening you up to similarities we have with cultures so different than our own is one of the strongest aspects to travel. In no other area of life can you really see that first hand unless you hit the road.
    Suzy recently posted…Olfactory Gold in IrelandMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:19h, 24 March Reply

      Suzy, good point. Even a two hour drive is good for the soul. I always feel revitalized when I am away from my daily drill. It’s nice to experience something fresh and new.

  • Rosann
    Posted at 10:43h, 24 March Reply

    We raised 9 adopted children on a single income and, despite financial challenges, all of our children have been to at least 3 countries as well as America. I believe it’s important for us to experience various lifestyles and locations in order to better understand and accept one another. Besides, it’s simply too fun to miss!

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:18h, 24 March Reply

      Rosann, my hat’s off to you! Your children were lucky to have you instill the value of learning about other cultures. It’s definitely a matter of priorities.

  • William
    Posted at 12:34h, 24 March Reply

    This is so well said, and I’m glad to have found your blog through Suzy’s segment. Cheers!

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:21h, 29 March Reply

      Awwww…thanks, William! Thanks goes to Suzy for leading you here.

  • Catarina Alexon
    Posted at 14:32h, 25 March Reply

    You know Renee, it’s not enough to just travel. Have lived and worked all over the world and you really need to spend a lot of time in a country to understand it.

    For years I travelled non-stop – 3 month in one country then on to 3 months in another country. Worked for top medias in the world and in each country interviewed the head of state, top ministers and leaders and industry and finance. Consequently got an insigth to countries and cultures that most people never get. Once you get that you can contribut to bridging the perception divide.
    Catarina Alexon recently posted…Social media – influence talks!My Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:19h, 29 March Reply

      No argument here, Catarina. I think the longer you have to immerse yourself in a culture, the better. It all depends on your circumstances and your pocketbook as to how long you can afford to stay in any one place. But if the stars have aligned to allow someone to do that, more power to them! Thanks for coming by, I appreciate your thoughts.

  • Indian Bazaars
    Posted at 02:01h, 26 March Reply

    Really enjoyed reading this post…
    Indian Bazaars recently posted…Art in Urban SpacesMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:44h, 29 March Reply

      Thank you!

  • Jacinda Green
    Posted at 05:27h, 28 March Reply

    I really loved reading your post. I come from a small town in Mississippi and cannot even imagine how different of a person I would be if I hadn’t traveled to other states. I believe that you can still get a good experience without leaving the state by traveling within. You could still learn from that.

    Seeing new places and different people helps us to become more open-minded. I am not saying that those who do not travel are closed-minded at all. I just believe that people who have been a lot of places are more able to adapt to change and experience new things.

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:44h, 29 March Reply

      Jacinda,

      There is no doubt that you can get a good experience without leaving the state….but leaving the CITY would be a great start. That was my concern for my friend. Thanks for stopping by and don’t be a stranger!

  • Natalie
    Posted at 08:05h, 29 March Reply

    Traveling is great and it really does shape you as a person. Makes people become more humble in my experience.
    Natalie recently posted…Turkish Women – Meet A Mother Called HaticaMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 08:19h, 29 March Reply

      I agree Natalie, I think in a lot of ways it has the potential to make you more empathetic to the plight of others.

  • Lorna - the roamantics
    Posted at 16:29h, 02 April Reply

    couldn’t agree more renee! part of why i love anthropology & doc filmmaking, is that i’m aware that not everyone wants to or will travel, but as you say that we often fear that which we don’t understand. agree that it’s always best to see for yourself, if you’re so inclined (like we all do in the travel community!) but if not, to look to sources that may help challenge assumptions about others. i LOVE traveling and can’t imagine still being that girl in plymouth, ma who only dared to dream about it. 🙂
    Lorna – the roamantics recently posted…The Best Gift EVER- A Friend Gives Me the WorldMy Profile

  • Turkey's For Life
    Posted at 01:58h, 03 April Reply

    Great post Renee. I agree with everything you’ve said – especially about wanting the world to be a more peaceful place. If we don’t see for ourselves, our knowledge is shaped by what the media wants us to know and it’s only when you see for yourself that you realise we are only shown what others want us to see.
    For those with the means to travel, I think it’s fear of the unknown that stops them.
    Julia

  • Timothy C
    Posted at 13:25h, 09 April Reply

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. It really resonated with me. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s unfortunate that some people, whether intentionally or unintentionally, remain in the comfort of their own familiarity. I think it’s that journey of exploring the unknown and unfamiliar, as you have articulated in your post, that delivers a greater appreciation for life. So much to experience, see, smell, feel, hear and eat out there!

    And at the end of the day, again, as you’ve mentioned, we’re all the same and share the same basic needs.

    Lovely post.

    • Renee
      Posted at 16:28h, 09 April Reply

      Thanks, Timothy! I like the old saying “you can’t miss what you’ve never had”. I think that rings true for so many, they have no idea of what they are missing out on when they do not expand their horizons.

  • travellyn
    Posted at 06:19h, 05 May Reply

    A lovely thought provoking article. I always wanted to travel when I was young but never did. But I have had opportunities in later life and seized them with both hands and haven’t stopped since. It is the most wonderful experience to visit a different country and gain an understanding of their culture and how they live their lives. These are unforgettable moments which you carry with you always.

    • Renee
      Posted at 14:50h, 16 May Reply

      Way to go! It’s never too late to realize our dreams. Good for you!

  • Greg Gross
    Posted at 15:33h, 08 July Reply

    We don’t live to travel. we travel to live.

  • Janice Temple
    Posted at 08:42h, 11 July Reply

    Wow! Food for thought! We all know people like this who never break out of their comfort zone. Great perspective.

    • Renee
      Posted at 21:35h, 11 July Reply

      Thanks, Janice….you are so right….when you’re stuck in a rut, it’s difficult to get out sometimes.

  • April D Thompson
    Posted at 10:20h, 11 July Reply

    Great post Renee. Couldn’t agree with you more. The more I travel, the more I realize that there are more similarities that differences despite the language and cultural differences.

    It’s unfortunate your friend still hasn’t left Sweet Home Alabama yet, but it’s never too late!
    April D Thompson recently posted…Reggae Sumfest Frequently Asked QuestionsMy Profile

    • Renee
      Posted at 16:36h, 11 July Reply

      Thanks, April. I know…I feel for my friend…I just can’t relate and I’m trying my best to reserve judgment….and you are right…it’s never too late.

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