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Traveller explores Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Seven Ways Travel Changes Your Life

Change your life through travel as you open your mind and step out of your comfort zone

By Zach Mason | 13th January, 2020
Updated on 12th January, 2024

Ever reconnected with friends after they've come back from their extended travels or a trip overseas? They talk your ear off about their amazing experiences and without fail, they'll tell you how much the trip has changed them.

Now, before you shake this off as a cliche, just think about it. Why does every traveler always say the same thing? Because there's definitely truth to it.

If you don't believe them, then let our volunteers, interns, and travelers convince you otherwise through their testimonials.

On the other hand, you might already be convinced but are wondering exactly how travel changes your life. Well, here are seven ways it can.

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#1 You'll become more open minded

When you travel abroad, you get to experience a new and different way of life. Everything is new the moment you step off the plane. It's a new landscape, a foreign language, a different culture and new people. You'll never be more exposed to new things. As a result, you'll have to adapt to your new surroundings. This will broaden your perceptions and force you to become more open-minded. 

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” ~ Mark Twain

#2 You'll learn to respect other people

Tanzanian women eat out of a communal bowl of food during lunch time.

It’s inevitable that traveling internationally will open your mind and challenge your perceptions. But, nothing will change the way you see your life quite like seeing the way other people live. If you have the opportunity, we recommend staying with a local host family abroad

By living alongside local people, you’ll witness culture in a way that you wouldn’t experience otherwise. They'll introduce you to their traditions and expose you to life in their country. You'll learn about their daily struggles, the things that bring them joy and the value they place on family and friends. Your interactions and heightened understanding will give you a greater appreciation of the life you have, a new sense of wonder, and empathy for other people and cultures.

Even if you don't stay with a host family, there are still plenty of teachable moments. You can learn from the staff working at the hotel or backpackers, and spend more time making conversation with the locals around you.

#3 You'll learn to respect the planet

When you travel, every turn offers brilliant landscapes and you’ll undoubtedly be wowed by the diversity of every country's natural beauty. During your travels, you'll also see the world in a different light. You'll see how people rely on the Earth for their livelihood and understand the importance of environmental conservation for both their survival and the survival of the country's wildlife. 

We all have a responsibility to travel ethically, so you might be concerned about the carbon emissions from your flights contributing to climate change. Fortunately, we'll help offset your flight emissions by planting mangroves as part of our Climate Action Plan. Mangroves are known to absorb large amounts of CO2 and help support coastal areas. This means you can travel with a good conscience, knowing that you're doing so responsibly.

#4 You'll become more confident

People who travel often have greater confidence because they have forced themselves to get outside their comfort zone and embrace the unfamiliar.

When you travel, you have to manage many things on your own. Everything from organizing a hostel and deciding where to eat to negotiating local transportation forces you to make independent decisions. You should be truly impressed after exploring a destination on your own.

Through our international travel programs, we help assist with many of the more worrisome aspects of traveling, like coordinating food and accommodation. However, your confidence will still grow through interactions with locals, shopping at markets, and braving new city streets. Not to mention your decision to go travel in the first place!

My time in Peru, even if short, was very sweet and left me memories that I will always remember! I went alone, something which I was scared about at the beginning, but actually turned out to be the best option and really helped me with my confidence. - Jordana B, Childcare & Community High School volunteer in Peru

#5 You'll learn new skills

Medical intern measures the heart rate of a young girl in Mexico.

Traveling abroad teaches you valuable life skills that you often don't even realize you need. While overseas, plans can change at any moment whether it's double-booked accommodation or a broken-down bus. You'll learn to think on your feet and prepare for the unexpected. As your confidence grows, so will your ability to reason quickly and anticipate changes.

However, there are also other skills that you can gain like learning a new language. Imagine navigating public transport in a foreign language, visiting sights of cultural significance, and bargaining for souvenirs from a street vendor. 

Your trip abroad doesn't only have to be a vacation, you can volunteer or intern too. This means you'll learn a whole host of new skills in a field you're interested in. You can learn about conservation practices, gain basic medical skills, or improve your English language teaching skills. Whatever you decide, travel will be sure to change your life.

#6 You'll make new friends

It may seem daunting at first, especially if you're traveling solo, but making new friends while traveling is surprisingly easy. The reason is that other travelers are looking to make friends too! You'll make friends from all walks of life who have chosen the same intrepid path as you.

If you choose to travel through one of our projects, you'll unite with travelers from all over the world who are working towards common goals. You’ll connect with them as well as our own staff and the individuals in the communities you assist. With newfound confidence, independence, and growing professional skills, you’ll be amazed how you can change your life through travel.

The most important part of my time in Thailand for me though was the connections and friendships I made with the volunteers that came from all around the world and the locals in Thailand. - James O, Marine Conservation volunteer in Thailand.

#7 You'll better understand your place in the world

Travellers explore the Rainbow Mountains in Peru.

How does travel change you? Well, you lose yourself and then you find yourself. It isn’t all going to be rainbows, waterfalls, and sunsets, but you'll see the sunshine when the storm passes. You'll be rinsed free of the sweat, dust, and dirt you collect on the road and the day will fade away leaving you with nothing but your newly discovered achievements.

Traveling abroad will change you because when you're away from everything familiar, you begin to discover who you truly are. By seeing the life experiences of others, you begin to see your own in a new light.

There are endless ways that travel can change your life, it's all up to you to embrace it. The question is, are you going as a volunteer, intern, or traveler? Soak in the language, the lifestyle, and the landscape. Your trip might not last forever, but the memories will. 

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