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Traveling is a part of many people’s bucket lists. It is something that many dream of, but seldom seem to make the time to do. I have noticed that as most folks reach the end of life, typically in older age, their fondest memories are of occasions that typically revolve around family functions and traveling.

Today, information for travel is more accessible than ever. You no longer have to use word of mouth to gather data or flip through magazines for inspiration; the internet provides us a virtually incredible way to explore other cultures and meet people from across the world! However, our experiences online can only provide us with so much. The real joy is in actually stepping out.

While the media and some of the social media online seems to focus more on the darker sides of life these days and all the negativity that comes with it, there are far more beautiful and peaceful places to go and sites to see that depart from what is often thrown at us. War, abuse, poverty, and famine are just a few of the issues that dominate global news headlines and so, as a result, we mostly see the negative aspects of any given region or culture, and sadly the people who live in those cultures may develop the same dim views of us.

However, I have found that when my interest has been piqued by a particular place or culture where I first learned of from the (negative) news, when I do my research, and I am able to visit the location, my experience is nothing like what I first felt when I was virtually exposed to that particular area.

In essence, the news and some of the internet breeds fear that keeps us from exploring our own neighboring communities, let alone the world outside our country’s borders and it is often wrong in creating a narrative in our brains. To me, this makes travel that much more essential for us all. By experiencing these foreign cultures in person, I have found that I begin to understand better and this feeling is contagious as there is so much more to see and experience in the world aside from what negative headlines may depict.

Stepping out of your comfort zone to travel to an unknown location may seem intimidating at first, but it is one of the best ways to challenge yourself. Not only is it energizing, but it provides a much-needed break from our everyday routines and fast-paced lives. Travel encourages us to slow down, take in the surroundings, and rediscover ourselves. When traveling, you have the opportunity to connect with new people and cultures, try new things, and learn more about the history of your destination. And, you may even come home with a new perspective and greater appreciation for your own local neighborhood, region, and country at large.

Even the planning of a trip can lead to excitement in your everyday routine and life!

Traveling will also expose you to the beauty of nature and architecture throughout the world. You’ll see landmarks and other natural attractions up close and in person, giving you a deeper awareness and appreciation of the planet. By the time you return home, you’ll have a more honest understanding of the world, and you’ll look forward to planning your next trip abroad.

Additionally, I have found that I have more in common with the people that populate other countries than I originally thought. This helps me form my own view of a region and its inhabitants and really assists me to create my own view of the outside world while opening me up to new possibilities. Travel allows me to embrace the cultural diversity present throughout the globe, and this alone has played a tremendous part in my personal growth and changing my perspective on “life.”