I have always been interested in learning about other parts of the world. The different traditions, cultures, foods – it all fascinates me. I’ve been known to pore over maps while dreaming about being able to visit each and every country. Over the last decade, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel to 10 different countries and would certainly jump at the chance to visit more.
While international travel has always been a personal interest of mine, it’s so much more than just a hobby – it has been a critical part of both my personal and professional growth. These are a few of the ways I have grown through international travel and why I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to travel abroad to take advantage of it:
- Broaden your horizons and stretch yourself. International travel is a great way to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. Whether it’s sampling different foods, taking traditional dance lessons, conversing with locals or exploring ancient ruins, the options are unending. I’ve discovered that the more I push myself to do things that I wouldn’t normally do, the more I benefit from the trip.
- Understand the world better. In our increasingly global world, international travel is immensely valuable. A good global understanding is a great asset when it comes to your career and your personal worldview. For me, travel has deepened my appreciation for differences in cultures or customs. But I have also seen that around the world, people are people. And some things – a smile, an act of kindness, friendship – can transcend all borders.
- Immerse yourself. For me, the most valuable trips have been the ones in which I have not gone simply as a tourist, but rather the ones in which I have engaged myself more fully in the culture. Whether it’s staying in a local host home, volunteering in the community or going to restaurants frequented by the locals, the more you can immerse yourself, the more rewarding the experience.
- Learn a language. In college, I spent a semester studying in Spain to help improve my Spanish skills. If you don’t know the language of a place where you will be traveling, consider learning a few basic conversational phrases. Knowing even rudimentary elements of a language can open your eyes to a new culture, as well as enable you to communicate better—always a plus! Additionally, learning new languages expands the learning capacity of your brain in many other ways. While learning another language may not always be practical, if you have the opportunity, it’s certainly a worthwhile pursuit.
- Always keep learning. When it comes to understanding other countries and cultures, there is always more to learn. To me, that is one of the reasons international travel is so exciting.
Whether you have the opportunity to travel as a part of your job or you decide to save your vacation days for a trip, make the most of any chance to travel.
How has international travel benefitted you personally or professionally? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet about it using the hashtag #mcgblog.