Do we travel for Instagram shots? Or for moments that can create ripples of envy on social media? Do we, instead, travel for the souvenirs? 

What exactly are we doing, halfway across the world with an old backpack and a map? Why would we come here, often alone, leaving behind everything we know, everything we understand as safe? Of course, some reasons are superficial, and that’s okay. Superficiality is just a sign that there’s something deeper at play. Maybe you want that expensive Balinese ikat. But one can also argue that one of the reasons we travel is to find something within ourselves that we didn’t know we had. We want to believe that if we go scuba diving in Thailand or attend a yoga retreat in Ubud, we might just unlock something powerful within us that was previously dormant.

While that may or may not happen, what is certain is that travel will teach you about life and the world better than any classroom ever will.

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1. You Learn to Renegotiate Your Comfort Zone

Essentially, you learn to push the boundaries of what makes you comfortable. This doesn’t mean always putting yourself in scary or nerve-wracking situations, because of course, that might not even be safe all the time. But it does imply that you must challenge yourself to live a little differently. Maybe you should go out with those fun backpackers you met at your hostel. Maybe you should try an adventure sport you’d otherwise be too afraid to attempt. And when you get comfortable with being uncomfortable, push your boundaries some more. See how far you can go, you might be surprised at the results.

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2. You Learn to Take Charge of Mistakes

Travel never really goes smoothly. There are too many moving parts. Issues can pop up out of nowhere, like transport glitches or problems with room booking. Sometimes you can miss a flight or a train, or get lost in a place where you don’t understand the language. But travel teaches you to deal with it; to accept those problems and find solutions. Figure out how to get through. It teaches you to be more responsible, to be smarter, braver, and relax; because you can handle whatever your journey throws at you.

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3. You Discover New Perspectives

 You are going to meet people you disagree with, sometimes vehemently. You will be engaging with cultures that don’t operate the same way as yours. It isn’t your job to change it, or make it better. It is the responsibility of those who practice that culture to ameliorate the problems within it. As a traveller, you must just be respectful of it, understand the other perspective, even if you don’t see eye to eye with it. You’ll discover new ways of living and of being, and if there’s one thing you can learn from this, it’s that the world is full of diverse ideas, and you are just a tourist catching a glimpse of them, seeking to know more.

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4. You Learn To Talk To People

Talking to new people can be terrifying, especially if you’re shy. But when you travel, you realise that your experience of the world becomes more fun if you actually pluck up the courage to have conversations with the locals. You may get some advice on touring their town, or you may even make a friend! And through all this, you learn that no matter the language barrier or cultural differences, we are all still people, trying to make it in a big world. 

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5.You Learn To Be Alone

When you’re travelling, especially if you’re travelling solo, you find yourself alone in places where communication can sometimes be difficult. It teaches you the value of your own company, the importance of settling down and enjoying your own thoughts, and how to find entertainment and joy by yourself. It’s an invaluable skill to learn, one that can come in handy halfway across the world, or even at home on a quiet day.

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6. You Learn To Take Precautions

Smart travellers take precautions for their health and safety, especially when travelling alone. You also learn to keep important documents safe when you’re on the go, because of course you don’t want to lose your passport on a train in the middle of nowhere. You also learn–sometimes the hard way–to keep an eye on your money and be wary of scams.

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7. You Learn To Love Yourself

Travel is hard, and those who do it are brave. Through your exploits and misadventures, you learn what works for you and what doesn’t, you get a deeper understanding about who you are and what you want from yourself. You see yourself in a new light, and learn to love yourself for all your imperfections and gifts.

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Experiencing travel is a way to push yourself to grow and expand your horizons. You won’t be the same person you were when you set off, and that’s more than okay.