“And I think to myself what a wonderful world!”
– Louis Armstrong-
Since I started touring for my job as an artist, I have literally traveled the globe, visiting 83 countries across six continents – experiencing places from Alaska and Hawaii, to French Polynesia, China, India, Russia, Korea and Africa. I’ve cruised on all five oceans, the Black Sea, the Chilean and Norwegian fjords and the Amazon River. I’ve crossed the Panama Canal multiple times, walked the Great Wall of China, swum with dolphins in Mexico, visited the NASA space center in Florida, dived with sharks in the Caribbean sea, rode the dunes of deserts in Dubai and Namibia, climbed the Rock of Gibraltar, visited the Great Pyramids on a camel in Egypt, bobsledded through the rainforest of Jamaica, swam in the Dead Sea in Israel, rode a gondola in Venice, experienced a carnival in Brazil, just to name a few. I’ve realized that there are so many benefits to travel – I am constantly re-creating myself because of it.
Travel Makes You Smarter
Travel helps you to expand your overall personal knowledge and wisdom. Since I started exploring the world, my knowledge of geography has grown substantially. While traveling, you become interested in where you are; you want to know which cities, rivers, oceans and mountains are surrounding you. I have now learned more geography from my travels than from books or school!
You learn a lot about history while discovering new sites. When you travel, you obviously want to learn more about the past of the people you meet and cities you visit. It’s so enriching! You may find out that historical facts you learned in school do not always match the local accounts of history, and that certainly sparks some very interesting conversations.
Travelling also encourages you to practice and perfect foreign languages. Everybody knows that the best way to master a language is to visit a foreign country and speak with the locals. No book can teach you as well as being immersed in a language. If you don’t speak the language of the country you are visiting, make an effort to learn a few basic words in the native language. Locals always appreciate it, and often they will make an extra effort to communicate with you.
Travel Improves Your Social Skills and Social Life
Be a traveler, not a tourist. Be curious and try new things. Meet new people and find out how they live, eat, and cook. Learn from them wherever you go. New people will push you to open your mind to other perspectives, ways of life and cultures, making you a more tolerant person. Meeting them will help you to improve your social skills and make it easier to build new friendships.
Travel is also a great way to create memories and stories to share. My family is always eager to hear my new adventures when I am back home. Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have more stories to tell than stuff to show! After all, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport!
It’s better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times. While travelling, I’ve learned that some of the facts you hear about the world end up being false. Explore; make your own judgments and gain your own point of view, not what you hear about on TV! You may hear, “Mexico is dangerous, be careful!” but I’ve been hundreds of times, and nothing ever happened to me! Tour and gain your own opinion about life, places and cities. Go and see it for yourself.
I found that one of the best ways to visit a new city is to just get lost in it! Drop the map, wander around and just take turns wherever you feel like. This way, you will better understand the spirit and mood of the place.
Travel Helps With Personal Growth
Traveling a lot has made me more flexible and adaptable to change, which assists me a lot in my everyday tasks. When you take a journey, so many unexpected things can happen, so you learn to be very flexible.
As a guest entertainer on a cruise ship, I have flown hundreds of flights per year to join ships around the world. I’ve found that airports are among the best places to practice patience. Travel via airports involves a lot of lines and waiting from check-in and security to customs and passport control. Airports are unpredictable: Your flight may be delayed or you might miss it entirely, leading to re-booking, transfers and hotels. Your luggage may get lost or you might be surprised when nobody comes to pick you up…the list goes on! I remember my show luggage with all my aerial equipment once got lost; I finally got it back 4 months later!
It’s very rare that a trip goes as planned, but when it does it makes me happy! But the unexpected patience is a great skill that you learn to develop while travelling.
Travel Relieves Stress
Travelling is an amazing stress reliever; you can put aside daily responsibilities and throw away schedules, giving you time to refocus on yourself, relax and focus on rejuvenation. Having the time and opportunity to get fresh air and sunshine is highly beneficial for your overall health. It’s also an excellent chance to catch up on sleep and feel rested.
Travel Makes You Take Less For Granted
Travel makes you appreciate what you have back home. In particular, when you visit poor areas, you become so much more grateful for what you have. You may stop taking things like running water or electricity for granted. Personally, some situations I have seen in some poor countries really hurt me in a sense, because I wasn’t sure how I could assist the people in need. I remember driving 45 minutes from the airport to the port of Mumbai, India, and seeing a “carpet” of people sleeping on the side of the road the whole way; thousand of bodies lying there. I felt useless.
Travel Is The Best Way To Experience Food
In my mind, food and travel are one, I cannot separate them. Discovering new tastes, spices, flavors, meals and drinks is really interesting. Eating dishes where they originated made with local fresh ingredients – it can’t get any better than that. For me, it’s the best part of travelling!
Here are a few examples from my personal experience with food in various countries/cities:
- Warm bruschetta with tomatoes, oregano and mozzarella and an ice cold limoncello on a sunny summer afternoon in Amalfi, Italy.
- Warm borscht and pelmeni with a cold vodka shot in St Petersburg, Russia, after visiting the Hermitage Museum.
- Buffalo mozzarella pizza in Napoli, Italy (the birthplace of pizza!), cooked in the first pizza oven ever made with a glass of Chianti.
- Shrimp fajitas, fresh guacamole and nachos with a cold Dos Equis beer in Cozumel, Mexico, after a two-tank dive at one of the best diving sites on the planet.
- A warm, freshly made crepe close to Cathedral Notre Dame on a cold afternoon in Paris, France.
- Tapas and red sangria on a warm summer night in a lively street in Spain.
- Grilled and marinated octopus with fresh tzatziki in Corfu, Greece, after a great swim in the turquoise blue Aegean Sea.
- A kebab, an apple tea, and a few drags on a shisha in the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, after strolling the Grand Bazar.
I still have one I’d like to add to my list – sushi in Japan!
Once you have eaten food in its home country, you realize that it doesn’t taste right in any other country. A pizza in the USA is never as good as in Italy, and paella in France can never rival the dish found in Spain.
It drives me mad to see tourists drinking coffee at Starbucks when they are in Colombia! Or eating McDonald’s in France! Why did they fly all the way around the world?
Advice From An Experienced Traveler
I have only travelled intensively for 16 years so far, but I can tell you that the more trips I take, the more I realize how much more there is to discover. Our planet is so small compared to the universe – but at the same time it is so big. There is so much to explore, experience and visit. I urge you to plan a voyage right now, before you run out of time. Travel as much, as fast, and as far as you can because life isn’t meant to be lived in one place. Don’t wait until you are too old; live so you can say, “I’m glad I did” instead of “I wish I had”. The world is such an amazing place and has so much to offer. Get on a plane, a train, or a boat – it doesn’t matter which method you choose as long as you are traveling.
Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer. It’s an investment and a journey that you treat yourself to. It’s worth any price. Don’t wait! Pack and go!
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