11 Reasons you need to stop what you are doing, pack a bag, and travel the world.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, says they wish they could travel more.  Travel means many things to many people, but regardless of which definition you choose, rarely do people get past the dreaming stage and into the planning stage.  Here are 11 reasons for you to start planning your trip of a lifetime now instead of continuing to put it off.

The cliffs of Mohr on the Southern coast of Ireland

The wind coming up the Cliffs of Mohr are so strong, they blow the foam from the waves below straight up the cliff face.

Nature’s Beauty

From the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef or the Grand Canyon to the top of Everest or Mt. Fuji, the world is filled with some truly beautiful places than can only really be experienced first hand.  Pristine beaches, lush jungles, sandy deserts and savannas teeming with wildlife simply can’t be experienced through a magazine or television program.   Get out there and see it for yourself!

Human Creativity

While nature is capable of some amazing works of art, so is the human race.  Over our brief time on Earth, we’ve managed to create some brilliant works of art.  Listen to an opera at the Sydney Opera house, see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris or visit the Taj Mahal.  Whether these works are the destination for your travels or merely a stop along the way, see some of what the world has to offer.

A mural of a man in a gas mask is painted on the side of a house in Derry, Ireland.  Shot while backpacking in 2009

The Murals in Derry and Belfast do a good job of passing along all the feelings about the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Fresh Perspective

In order to develop a deeper understanding of the world, and the people living in it, you have to experience it for yourself.  Sheltered in a normal workday, it’s easier to gloss over an article about a natural disaster or tune out of a news report on a conflict half way around the world.  After all, how does that affect you?

Learning about how people live and work, their religious and cultural values, and their own views teaches us about ourselves.  We gain new insight into our values and we take what we learned back with us.  No longer will the world seem limited to your neighborhood, village, town, city, prefecture, state or country.

Personal Growth

It would be impossible for you NOT to grow while doing this kind of long-term travel.  Dealing with the ups and downs of being a flashpacker for weeks or months on end is an intense experience that will never leave you.  A solid break from everything back home gives you time for reflection and lets you set new priorities.

The sushi chef of a small, local sushi place serving a plate of sushi.

The local sushi restaurant is often quite an authentic experience.

Challenge yourself

There are plenty of challenges out there waiting for you to overcome them.  From the physical (mountain climbing, camel riding, or scuba diving) and mental (culture shock, communication issues, market haggling) to the wild and miscellaneous  (gastronomical, social, technological) the challenges that await are up to you.

Self Reflection

Getting away for a week or two doesn’t really give you the chance to truly break away from life at home.  A few weeks or months, however, gives you plenty of time to reflect.  Seek out some time to consider how life is going and imagine how you want it to be.  Set some new priorities that will make you happier and bring home a plan.

Create Memories

The memories you create during your travels will sustain you for years and years after you’ve finished your trip.  When you finally make it back home, you return changed by all the experiences you’ve had.  Try as you might, you’ll never be able to explain to your friends and family what it was like, but I guarantee you’ll be saving and planning for the next trip soon.

Six people posed for an image with Guinness in hand.  Taken at the top of the Guinness brewery in Dublin.

Some of the tour group crew posing at the top of the Guinness brewery in Dublin - Guinness in hand

New Friends

Travel is an opportunity to meet interesting new people and make new friends, with locals and other travelers alike.  Being a backpacker or flashpacker usually means staying in hostels or couchsurfing, and that means meeting others interested in travel.  These other travelers often become the focus of your most cherished memories, and who knows where things might lead with the cute girl/guy staying across the hall?

Reward Yourself

There are many people out there working the 9-to-5 and living what most would consider a “normal” life.  It’s time to give yourself a break and see what other opportunities are out there.  Reward yourself with taking back some of your time and spending it on YOU.  Take a month or three and explore that place you’ve always dreamed of.  You’ll come back with renewed energy, new skills you can use in your business, and more.

A pint of Guinness and a certificate saying I poured the perfect point.

Was able to get some tips from the experts on pouring the perfect pint of Guinness.

Expand Knowledge

There is no better way to gain new knowledge about other countries than to travel within them.  Reading a dozen books or a hundred articles won’t give you the insight and knowledge about a country as spending a month there.  If you want to understand a country, you really need to spend some time there.

Freedom

Ultimately, travel is freedom.  It is freedom from work, stress, possessions, pressure, and responsibilities.  It gives you the freedom to try new things, experience new cultures, see things you’ve only dreamed of seeing and meet some of the most amazing people in the world.  Travel is the freedom to do the things you’ve always imagined yourself doing, and what could be better than that?

  • http://www.vagobond.com Vagobond

    Great post. I travel for all these reasons and also because of one more. I’m don’t do well when I’m sedentary. Travel keeps me young.

    • http://www.flashpackerhq.com Travis Ball

      I’d say I’m the same way – I prefer to be busy, but I can usually find many different things to occupy my time. Travel is one of those activities I consider myself lucky to be able to do.

      -T

  • Katie

    Ok, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here for a minute.

    First, I have to disagree with your initial premise – that everyone wishes they could travel more. I really don’t think that’s true. I personally love to travel, but I know a lot of people who don’t. They have absolutely no desire to. It’s not that they want to, but feel they can’t afford to or don’t have the time to – they really just don’t want to.

    Second, you may have seen the recent debate over another blog post that some felt looked down upon those who do not pursue long-term travel. I feel like this post is bordering on that same attitude. It’s great that you have found a lifestyle you love and enjoy. I personally hope to embark on a long-term trip once I save up enough money and pay down my student loans. But the idea that everyone should experience long-term travel or that “only” travelling for a week or two here or there is not sufficient to break away assumes that everyone wants or needs to break away.

    Again, I am one who is dying to pick up and travel and I definitely do feel the need to break away for bit. But I have a lot of friends and family who don’t want to – never have, never will. They are very happy and satisfied with their current lives and job – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think the idea that everyone needs a break from their career or needs to re-evaluate and set new riorities is somewhat flawed – just because you or I or someone else feels the need to do so doesn’t mean everyone does. There is nothing wrong with people who are happy where they’re at – and I feel that posts like these seem to imply there is.

    Again, I personally do relate to a lot of the reasons you list in favor of long-term travel. But I am not comfortable with the tone that assumes it is something that everyone needs to do.

    • http://www.flashpackerhq.com Travis Ball

      I suppose I should elaborate on what I meant by “Travel means many things to many people.” For me, I like long-term travel. The ability to completely separate myself from life back home and become immersed in another culture is an amazing experience. From a financial perspective, it’s more economical to travel for a longer period as a good chunk of your travel costs are eaten up just getting to and from your destination. I could go on, but I should get back to the point. For many other people, travel is going to Disney World with the family, visiting family away from home or taking a road trip into the mountains or to the beach. Given the time, money and opportunity, I don’t know anyone who would chose not traveling over travel.

      While I realize that long-term travel is not for everyone, I am of the opinion it is something everyone SHOULD do. This isn’t me looking down upon those who don’t, but promoting the benefits of such an activity. Many countries, such as Australia and the UK, have a history of sending young people out on long-term trips and I wish more people from my country (the United States) would do the same. Travel has a way of opening your mind to what the world is like that no other experience can match and I simply wish more people had the opportunity to do it.

      You are absolutely right that there’s nothing wrong with people who are happy with where they’re at. I have friends back home who are satisfied with work and starting families and that’s wonderful! I occasionally find myself wishing I were in their shoes, but then the grass is always greener on the other side, right? I’m glad you found a way to relate to the reasons and wish you luck on paying down the loans and saving money for a trip of your own. Let me know if you ever need any help in planning the trip.

  • http://www.hosteldog.com Garrett

    I love the perspective Travis and these are all great reasons to travel.

    I also completely agree with Katie. In terms of travel lifestyle, for me it’s a lifelong passion but came in a large wave for about 4 consecutive years. Now, I’m more interested in building something long lasting based off that passion and those experiences.

    As with anything in life, you’ll be most successful with a balance. For each traveler, they have to find that balance.

    • http://www.flashpackerhq.com Travis Ball

      I think you hit the nail on the head – it’s all about balance. That balance is going to be different for everyone, and will change with time and different life experiences.
      I know that this trip will eventually come to an end, for one reason or another, but does that mean my travel days are done? I doubt I’ll ever stop traveling completely, but do realize I’ll eventually slow it down.

  • http://ytravelblog.com Caz Makepeace

    Travis, I completely agree with all your reasons here. I have been an expat traveler now for many years, and my life has certainly been enriched by travel in all these ways.
    Travel can mean so many different things to so many people. It can be defined by a weekend camping trip, a family 2 week vacation, a year long round the world or living in another country. Whatever way you choose I’m sure that any number of these reasons will have a positive impact on your life somehow.
    I totally understand what Kate is saying in her comments above, however, I really feel as if this article was no way looking down on those who don’t pursue long term travel. I think you were merely presenting the reasons you think travel can enrich your life, and which would be agreed upon by almost anyone who goes traveling. I understand there has been a lot of arguing and bickering over the internet recently in regards to this, but I think this article needs not be a bandwagon to jump on.
    For those of us who do travel long term, this is our way of life. We can’t help but present the ways through our articles as to how this has empowered our lives. I’m sure that Travis’ blog is aimed toward those who really want to travel, most likely long-term, but have not yet found the right inspiration or motivation to do so. Perception is everything, and if you are perceiving this article as an attack or an offense to yourself then you need to perhaps rethink your perception and judgement and maybe stay away from travel blogs. It would be a bit like me continually reading a mummy blog, with no intentions of having children, yet getting pissed off every time the blogger mentioned why motherhood was such a beautiful experience.

  • Katie

    Caz – I was in no way getting pissed off over the blog, just playing devil’s advocate and trying to present an alternative point of view. As I mentioned, I do love to travel and I do aim to someday be able to travel long-term (although not permanently). I just didn’t agree with the apparent underlying assumption that long-term travel is something that everyone wants or needs to do.

  • Pingback: Good Reads for the Month of August | GloboTreks Travels()

  • http://www.travelswithanineyearold.com Theodora (Travels with a Nine Year Old)

    A lovely set of reasons. I know several people who have absolutely no desire to travel. But I hope you’re speaking to those who do have the desire and are, for whatever reason, scared of acting upon it.