Travel includes some tangible items: plane tickets, bus passes and souvenirs. But the intangible aspects of life that can seldom be found in the items we purchase and accumulate in our daily lives is far more of what we bring back from travel.
I used to think there were only two types of people: those who like to spend money on material items and those who like to spend it on experiences, and I’ve personally grappled with figuring out which of these “people” I am. The simple truth is that you can be both – but in my opinion, the money spent on traveling will always be better spent.
1. You gain valuable knowledge and skills while traveling
When’s the last time you bought something and thought, ‘Wow, I learned something from this object I bought from Walmart?’
2. You become a person who has stories to tell
Good, bad, sad, funny – no matter what the stories are, there will always be perfect opportunities for you to share with others all your experiences.
3. You meet new people
Even if you will never see these people again, interacting and connecting with people different from yourself with different backgrounds is one of the most rewarding experiences out there, and teaches you a lot about culture.
4. You’ll never lose your memories
Material items can be lost, stolen, used up, wasted, discarded and more. While travel may end, no one can take from you the memories and experiences you had—these you get to keep for good.
5. You won’t look back on life someday and think of the stuff you wish you had owned
Chances are you will reflect on life experiences, not on which items you did or didn’t buy, and may even wish you would have done more.
6. You learn how to adapt to new environments and react when things go wrong
Some problem-solving skills you just can’t learn in a classroom, from your parents or from your peers – they are just valuable skills and life lessons that come from being put in uncomfortable and foreign environments.
7. You can connect with strangers over mutual knowledge and love of a place
I’ve struck up conversations with complete strangers that have expressed any connection to a city or country that I have visited and love to talk about, and these experiences allowed me to instantly connect with others in my daily life.
8. You expand your mind
By no fault of our own, we all go through our early lives life experiencing it through the lenses of our upbringing and our own little world. Visiting different parts of the country and the world pushes you to perceive matters differently.
9. You develop new interests
Having a variety of experiences in different places can do anything from showing you a new hobby to directing the course of your study and future career plans.
10. You realize how little material possessions matter in the grand scheme of things
Most importantly, while you shouldn’t go into an existential crisis over what you like spend money on, traveling shows you that having the best material things is not the end-all-be-all in life. I think any traveler can attest that fully experiencing some of these intangible aspects of life is one of the greatest feelings out there, and this surely cannot be bought in a store.
Photo by Marissa Haegele