Invest in Your Health and Happiness: Travel!

Investing in travel is an investment in your personal health and happiness. It scares you, excites you, liberates you and ultimately changes you.  

Travel allows us to learn new things, take time to relax, increase cultural awareness, spend more quality time with our travel partners, have new experiences, make positive family memories, etc. While traveling can be exciting and exhilarating, it’s so much more than sipping margaritas on a sun-soaked beach.  It’s about fueling your soul and impacting your health. It’s about the person you become along the journey.

Based on my journey as one who travels for her career and personal enjoyment, here are my top six tips I wish someone had told me before I began traveling the globe.

You Won’t See Everything On The First Visit

The summer of my senior year in college I planned a vacation to New York City to visit some friends who I met while studying abroad in Australia.  I had never been to the Big Apple and I couldn’t wait to go see/do it all. So, I donated plasma twice a week for the entire summer to save up for my September visit.  I wanted to do EVERYTHING and cram it all into a five day visit as I never knew if I would be back. I quickly realized after the first day in the Big Apple that my dreams of seeing everything on my list just weren’t going to happen.  

Tip: You’ll burn yourself out and your bank account out too if you try to cram everything you want to do into a short window of time. Instead of trying to hit every corner of Australia in a week and a half timeframe, only aim for one corner and save the rest for another visit.  Take your time exploring and really make the most of your trip. It will save you money and exhaustion from trying to jam it all into a tight window.

By the way, October will mark my 15th visit to New York, and I can tell you I still haven’t seen everything that was on my original list!

Leave All Your Expectations Behind
Here’s the thing.  I’m a PLANNER. I CALENDAR my life.  If I’m making a CHECKLIST and slowly working through it, then I’m accomplishing something. But when it comes to travel, I want to remind you that you don’t have to plan every last detail! You want to be flexible and allow free time.  I encourage you to ask any travel partners (hint hint-as a travel agent, you can reach out to me so you are not doing all the planning yourself and I can help to manage your expectations)

Newsflash: you are going to deal with missed flights, slow buses, wrong turns, delays, bad street food, and much, much more. After a while, you learn how to adapt your plans to changing situations. You don’t get mad, you don’t get angry; you just alter what you are doing and move on. Life throws you curve balls and you hit them out of the park once you learn to not set your expectations so high!  After all, those crazy things that happen to you along the way are what you end up remembering years later and laughing about too.

Traveling Is An Investment In Your Personal Growth

Say what? I’m truly not the same person I was 17 years ago when I made my first flight overseas.  When you travel, your perspective becomes broader, you embrace the unexpected and your self-confidence increases. It gives you an idea how lucky you are in this world, from the people you meet and from the things you see. Yes, my friends, traveling is an investment in YOU.  It teaches you more about life than the four corners of your cubicle in your 9 to 5 job. Traveling is like enrolling into the university of life. You’ll learn about the differences in the world, culture, humanity, your own fears, how to survive, etc. Learning makes our brains more active, which psychologists have found increases our level of happiness – particularly when learning something we find enjoyable.

As cheesy as the old saying goes, it’s the only thing that you can spend money on that will make you richer (that and education). When you think back on that money you spent, you’ll never say ‘I wish I didn’t spend it on so many amazing experiences!’

You Should Half Your Luggage and Double Your Budget

I remember packing my bag for the first time ready to make my first visit over to Europe.  For over two weeks, I set everything out and kept going back and forth on whether or not I should bring this jacket or those pants or those five pair of shoes.  This one is one of the toughest lessons, but so important. Those things you want to pack “just in case,” ditch them. Your back will be breaking with that pack that’s bigger than you.  

And, let’s be honest, you will spend money on things you never planned for. It happens and it’s better to over budget rather than go with the bare minimum and not enjoying those extra random things you decide to do along the way.

You Should Take That Leap Of Faith

When you become confident in your ability to do anything, you do anything. On my travels through Queens Town in New Zealand, I made a decision to go sky diving.  Yep, I jumped out of a plane with a little itty bitty parachute falling straight out of the sky. And I paid to do this. Why? Because I wanted to truly create a lasting memory that I would have for life. What’s the purpose of life if not to break out of your comfort zone? Sometimes you have to take the leap of faith, even when you are scared spitless. Butterflies were in my stomach, I contemplated turning back several times and I nearly threw up in my mouth, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

You Will Meet Friends For Life

Can I be totally honest with you?  Many of the people that I met on the road I’m friends with now. Whether that’s on Facebook, Instagram or people that I reunite with when we’re in the same place, I love the fact that travel opens you up to a whole world of so many other fabulous people.  People that share your passion, your interests, your silly insider jokes that only you can get from what you experienced together. Let’s be honest, you become part of a “travel tribe” for life and it’s the BEST!

There are so many other things I wish I would have been told before I started traveling, but I guess it’s good to learn them along the way.  The world is a classroom and it’s the hardest exam you’ll ever take. But, when you come out the other side, you’ll wonder why the heck you didn’t start sooner.  So, cheers to your next healthy and happy adventure — wherever the road of life may take you!