Anyone who knows me will probably agree that I am likely to be a little biased in favour of travel when I write this piece; I love to see and experience the world. Travelling is an individual experience, everybody’s story will be different and what you get out of it is a testament to how openminded you are, how brave you are willing to be and your capacity to expect the unexpected. The brilliant thing is, it doesn’t matter how you do it. You can be a backpacker on a tight budget or a luxury traveller with a platinum credit card, you will still have an experience unique to you that will teach you lessons that you can’t learn in every day life. I truly believe that roaming the earth, in whichever way we feel comfortable, is something that everybody can do and everybody should do at some point in their lives and these are my reasons why.
1) Travel is Easy
Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. You could travel the world for a year and not pay a penny for accommodation thanks to trends like house sitting or home swapping, couch surfing or good old fashioned camping. Accommodation worldwide ranges from completely free to expensive luxury hotels, but there is something for everyone’s budget and taste.
If you’re shrewd about it, you can see the sights for next to nothing too. You can find free organised walking tours in most cities, or plan out your own. A lot of cities offer admission to their museums for free on one day of the week. You can explore places by foot, hire a bike or use public transport to get around rather than hire a car or take taxis. Not only will you see more, you’ll experience more of the local way of life and you are more likely to interact with the people around you. Be imaginative and find alternative ways of doing things. A great example of this is to use the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty in New York rather than an organised boat tour. The cheapest boat tour I could find to see Lady Liberty was $23, the Staten Island Ferry which takes you straight past Ellis Island and gives you incredible views of the Manhattan skyline is free!
If you’re on a budget, flying is often the biggest expense of travelling, but this has become easier and cheaper than ever. 20 years ago it would take 24 hours to confirm a booking and you would have to wait for your tickets to arrive in the post. Today you can book a flight hours before you fly at the push of a button from the comfort of your own home. 20 years ago, flight prices were fixed, today airlines can fluctuate their prices and have flash sales to sell their seats. The average cost of a flight has halved since 1980 and now we are spoiled by low cost airlines; in many cases it can cost you more to get to the airport than it does to fly to another country!
Lastly, if you are a travel novice but you are tech savvy, there are apps for everything. Never mind accommodation and flights, what about how and what to pack, how to ask for a coffee in Chinese or when you’ll need to reapply your sunscreen? There’s an app! You can even download an audio guidebook for your destination! If you’re a travel novice and you’re not tech savvy, there are companies like ours who can plan everything for you! Travelling has never been easier!
2) Travel can be Good for Your Health
Travelling is an excuse to escape the rat race and to put your hectic life to one side for a while. It literally gives us distance, thousands of miles in some cases, but it also gives us distance psychologically, it is time to switch off and forget about day to day concerns. Perhaps you have lost your way a little with work, you have come out of a bad relationship or you have had a bad run of luck, getting away can be time to take stock of things and readdress what you want out of life. Travelling gives you time for yourself and increases your mental wellbeing, something that everyone needs from time to time.
While travelling has never been easier, being away from the comforts and familiarity of home can bring its own challenges. You’re in a foreign place, the people are different, the language is unfamiliar, the customs are strange, the food looks peculiar and you get lost trying to find your hotel but somehow you manage. These challenges make you more resourceful and can build your self confidence!
When we plan a trip abroad, the vast majority of us will choose sunnier and warmer climates giving us a possibly much needed vitamin D boost. This is so important for our immune systems and general well being, reducing the risk of disease. It regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, great for your bones and teeth and it also reduces your blood pressure!
A large percentage of travellers are often more active when they are away. You might go hiking, climb mountains, go kayaking, snorkelling or scuba diving, trek to famous landmarks, walk on glaciers, learn how to salsa, take up yoga, cycle everywhere or simply just walk all day long as you explore. You’ll be doing exercise and probably eating better too!
3) Travel Makes us Better People
Living without your creature comforts, whether to you that means a hairdryer, a regular bus system or a decent cup of coffee, travelling teaches you to be adaptable and you become more easygoing as a result. Sometimes you just have to sleep in a tent or get on a chicken bus. Sometimes you won’t be able to dry your hair and sometimes you won’t be able to get your morning caffeine hit, but you just get on with it! Realising that you can live without these things teaches you to be less materialistic. By seeing how other people in other parts of the world live, you realise that you don’t need a 60 inch flat screen TV, a pair of Jimmy Choos, the latest Playstation or a brand new Audi.
Exposing yourself to other cultures and seeing countries much poorer than your own will give you a sense of perspective that you can’t learn by ways other than experience and immersing yourself in the soul of these places. It brings a country’s history to life and opens your eyes to the reality of how developing countries and their populations exist. It teaches you to be more accepting of other people, their actions and their beliefs. It can become an antidote to racism and prejudice. Is it any surprise that the purpose of the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism “is based on a vision of the world's largest industry, travel and tourism - becoming the world's first global peace industry; and the belief that every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace.”?
4) Travel Gives you the Opportunity to Develop Skills
While travelling you will have the opportunity to learn and develop useful skills. It is a source of education and it will make you smarter, not just intellectually and culturally, but in the way you approach life and people and smarter in your choices and your productivity. Your adventures will improve your use of effective thinking.
As you endeavour to try new things you will find you have abilities in all sorts of areas. It could be scuba diving, mountain biking, teaching, building, mountain climbing, singing, dancing, painting, sailing, writing…. the list is endless, it depends what you decide to put your hand to.
You will also learn new languages. You may not end up fluent in every language you are faced with, but stay in one country long enough and you will be surprised at how much you can pick up. In just a few weeks you will find yourself able to exchange basic phrases, to order food and to ask general and important questions. You will learn about other religions, cultures, cuisines, architecture, festivities, geographical and ecological footprints, weather systems, music, art and history. The list goes on!
5) Travel Pushes you to Learn who you Really are. You Really do Find Yourself!
Travelling forces you into situations that you wouldn’t find yourself in at home and provides you with the opportunity to experience things that you wouldn’t have done otherwise. You are constantly stepping outside of your comfort zone, you will want to try new things and strive to achieve things that you never thought you could do, just to prove that you can. If you stay at home you will never have the opportunity to climb a volcano, hike through a rainforest, ride a camel, wash an elephant in a river, hold a koala, barter in a souk or to try the infamous scorpion on a stick!
You very quickly learn your limits; what you are able to put yourself through, the things that you are prepared to do and what you just don’t enjoy. You learn what you are good at and you will be able to accept that there are some things that you will never exceed at. You will become more independent and more resourceful, resilient and responsible. You will discover new views and beliefs and you will learn compassion and understanding. You will create new goals and aspirations for yourself which will mould your future. You will realise that there are elements of yourself that you don’t like but you will have the confidence to work on how to improve those things. But ultimately, you will find acceptance that you are who you are and there is no shame in that; we are all different, thank goodness, it’s what makes this world so interesting!
My final point doesn’t need an explanation, so I will just leave you with this final thought…
6) Travel Because you can, Travel Because you Want to!
The Dalyan exposé will run for 3 weeks in May and will include a lot of exciting articles every day and videos on our YouTube channel with interesting interviews with business owners and those who work in tourism in Turkey. We'll also be tackling safety issues and what terrorism means for Turkey and the beautiful riverside town of Dalyan.