International travel can be an exciting adventure and an opportunity for a person to have new experiences. But it is also a time for individuals and loved ones to grow, teach and learn. Consider these 10 practical, often overlooked, ways that travel can change your life.

Pool at Barcelo Playa Tambor, Tambor
Pool at Barcelo Playa Tambor, Tambor


1. Become More Intelligent

Think about all the times during travel that you have to do learn something new. You need to research places to travel, what to do when visiting, where to stay, how to book, what travel restrictions to adhere to, the culture of the place you are visiting. Each time you research something you are learning new things and engaging your brain. But it doesn’t stop there. When you get to your destination, you are out of your comfort zone. You have to pay close attention to your surroundings and use all of your senses – heightening all the things you are able to absorb. You also have to watch the locals to learn accepted lingo and behaviors.

ATV Tour through the Forest near Tamarindo in Guanacaste
ATV Tour through the Forest near Tamarindo in Guanacaste


2. Increase Happiness

Sure, traveling makes you happy – that seems obvious. But have you ever thought about how deep that happiness can go, and how it can impact your life? Travel can offer a chance for a person to refresh and recharge, resulting immediate happiness. Seeing a famous landmark or participating in an exhilarating activity, like zip lining in Costa Rica, all offer an adrenaline rush and result in big smiles. But what about when you’re back home and the adventure is over? Likely, you’re still experiencing higher levels of bliss daily because of the traveling you did. Knowing that you did something that you wanted to do, and being able to recall the happiness you felt and the bonding that you experienced will help you achieve increased happiness overall.

Coffee Tour - Cafe Britt
Coffee Tour - Cafe Britt


3. Spark Curiosity

When you travel, you become naturally curious about all kinds of things that you might normally take for granted. Because you are in a new place, you are more likely to pay closer attention to the small things, and to ask questions. That natural curiosity that we all have as children slowly gets pushed aside when we have to start worrying about “adult” things. Traveling can help spark that curiosity again, and help you look at the world differently. Your newly rediscovered curiosity can be easily applied to your personal and professional life to help you make changes and get ahead.

Riding Bikes in the heat at Manzanillo
Riding Bikes in the heat at Manzanillo


4. Expand Perspectives

You may think that where you live, where you grew up – these places are the center of the universe. However things work in these places is how they work around the entire world. But that isn’t true, and traveling can help you see that. When you travel, you are exposed to not just the place that you are traveling to, but also to all the other people that are traveling there as well. You can experience first-hand how cultures are different, and how they are similar. Traveling is a nice reminder that the world out there is big, and that there are a lot of people in it. You can also learn more about how your culture is perceived by interacting with other people.

Awesome Surfing at Backwash in Matapalo
Awesome Surfing at Backwash in Matapalo


5. Physical Transformations

If you travel to a place that requires more physical activity than you are used to, you will find yourself pushing your physical limits. If you take a trip that is mostly walking or biking, you’ll certainly find that your physical appearance has changed. You can expose yourself to how different cultures view bodies and body types. You may visit a place that doesn’t serve large portions and lose weight, or you may travel to Italy and find yourself indulging in amazing cuisine that leaves you with a few extra pounds. Either way, looking at the physical transformations you make while traveling can give you something to reflect upon.

Delayed Flights SignDelayed Flights SignPhoto Credit : {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}

6. Problem Solving

At some point, everyone that travels experiences a challenge. Whether it is dealing with flight delays or trying to break down a language barrier, these extreme travel moments can give you a valuable tool to use in everyday life: problem solving skills. When you are traveling, you have to think fast and get creative. You have to work in unfamiliar surroundings, with people that may not think the same way you do. The problem solving skills that you hone during travel can be applied to all sorts of situations in your everyday life.

7. Learn Respect

You are programmed to treat people a certain way, based on where you live and what is acceptable there. When you travel, you are dealing with people from many different cultures, and you learn how to have more patience and respect for those that you deal with. You might struggle with a language barrier while traveling that helps you become more understanding of those that have the same issue in your home. You can also learn more about the history of the place you are visiting which will help you understand, and respect, their culture.

Checking out one of the many boiling mud pots in Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Checking out one of the many boiling mud pots in Rincon de la Vieja National Park


8. Gain Independence

If you are traveling alone, you have only yourself to rely on. You have to learn how to get around, talk to people, and in general just be comfortable being alone. Even if you are traveling with others, you still need to take care of your own arrangements, and might want to venture to sightseeing spots on your own. Travel is a great way to discover your independence. Once you return from your trip, you may find yourself exercising that independence more in your daily life.

Scuba Diving with Marine Turtle
Scuba Diving with Marine Turtle


9. Discover Yourself

Traveling can help you learn more about your personal strengths and weaknesses. You can also try new things and discover new likes and dislikes. People are more apt to have an attitude of trying anything once when they are traveling, which is can be such an asset to self-discovery. Learning even just what you are and aren’t willing to try can teach you a lot about yourself. If you just pay attention and open yourself up to new experiences, you might find that you hardly knew yourself before your trip.

Saying
Saying "Hi" from the Monteverde Cloud Forest


10. Bond with Everyone

There aren’t many things as important in life as sharing it with others. Travel can help you bond with your loved ones, and also with brand new people. Experiencing the highs and lows or a trip with your travel companions is something that none of you will ever forget, and those memories will help bond you all. Meeting new people and overcoming cultural difference and language barriers will help you overcome shyness and become more social. It can also help you make life-long friends.