How travel can change your life: everything you wanted to know and were afraid to ask

(A version of this article was originally published in Island Origins Magazine)

If you’ve ever wondered about the impact travel can have on your life, well, you’re about to get some answers.

But first, are there any Fresh Prince fans up in herre? Bienvenido a mi page, fam!

Now, this is a story all about how
Travel flipped my life upside down
And I'd like to take a minute
So, just sit right there
While I tell you how I became the queen of booking Cheap Air...

{Insert multiple CRINGE EMOJIS while I recover from how cheesy my attempt at being the Will Smith level of cool was.

If you’re still here, thank you! Hey, enough shenanigans, right? Let me get on with the business of telling you my story.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time indoors. Unlike my sister who was an outgoing tomboy and my brother who was a natural at sports, I was reserved and accident prone, so I found my refuge in books.  Thanks to a childhood filled with fairy tales and literary classics, I minimized the usual skinned knees and bruises brought on by outdoor play, because I would curl up on my sofa and vicariously experience exciting escapades that were far way. 

However, that affinity for interior spaces began to dwindle after a trip to New York. Suddenly, as a wide-eyed six-year-old, I was catapulted from a plain-ink-on-parchment world to a vibrant, larger-than-life place.  The city’s sensory overload was palpable, so it whet my appetite for more.  

Even now, travel has a spellbinding effect on me that continues to grow. It has validated the power of dreaming and turned me into a go-getter.  It’s also helped me embrace differences by routinely exposing me to new languages, cultures and traditions. Plus, it’s been an unfailing guide to discovery and knowledge. 

If you’re wondering how travel can change your life, I encourage you to give it a try. Here’s why: 

Your dreams take flight

How travel changed me_Dreams take flight

Think about how much more we all could achieve if we freely granted ourselves the permission to dream. I’m not referring to fanciful desires like winning the lottery. I mean dreams that inspire. Aspirations that give your life purpose and help you set tangible goals. The soul-stirring type that kicks you deep in the gut, and propels you to get up and go.   

Decades ago, if anyone had told me a little ‘country girl’ from the tiny island of Jamaica would get to visit fascinating corners of the globe, I would have laughed and told them no. Now, I’ve gradually ticked off countries like Greece, Peru, Holland, Dubai, China, Egypt, South Africa, and several Caribbean islands from my bucket list because I took practical steps to do so.  

You learn the power of intentional action

American author John C. Maxwell once said, “dreams don’t work unless you do,” and it’s true. Visioning is great, but no matter how big or small the goal, none of us will get what we want in life without taking intentional action towards it. Planning for vacation is just one example of that.  All it involves is making travel a priority after life’s essentials. 

My three-step plan is: 1. Save consistently.  2. Live within (or below) your means. 3. Aim for little or no debt. It’s not about what you make, but about what you save. Always strive to be purposeful about making decisions that don’t tap out your monthly salary, so you can free up disposable income. Before every big-ticket purchase, ask yourself, “is this a need or a want?” It will work wonders for fiscal restraint. 

You unlock deeper insights about yourself from greater self-discovery  

How travel can change your life

Travel takes you out of your comfort zone, teaches you a lot about yourself, and opens your eyes to the broader human experience. No two trips are ever the same, which makes you learn to adapt to unfamiliar situations. Even if things aren’t going your way, past experiences assure you things will eventually work out. 

Being away from home also adds depth to character and widens perspectives. By regularly interacting with diverse groups of people, you observe new ways of doing things, realize all the little gems you take for granted, and discover that inconveniences you used to see as big problems are actually minor. 

Ultimately, I’ve found that regardless of geographic or cultural backgrounds, people just want to be acknowledged and loved.  When that happens, a light bulb goes off and you realize that the cost of what you spend on a trip is chump change to what you gain. In fact. the most valuable transactional currencies are warm and hospitable smiles, an open and non-judgmental mind during local interactions, and irreplaceable memories that last a lifetime. 

Now, it’s your turn to share. Has travel transformed your life in any way?