Traveling Abroad is Good For Us

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments



Traveling abroad really is good for us! Not everyone is compelled to spend as much time traveling as I do. I understand that completely. Some of us were born to wander. Most likely, I inherited the wanderlust gene from my father. Yet, there are a lot of reasons to venture away from home and going beyond your own borders in particular.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me explain.

My world view has changed. Spending time in another country other than your own broadens your world view. Humans tend to think provincially if they are never exposed to other cultures. We easily reach a conclusion that the way we do things is the way everyone should do things. Once, you spend time elsewhere, you suddenly realize that there are thousands of ways to do things and that many are equally as effective as the one way we grew up believing to be, well, the true and only reasonable way. When we broaden our world view, our minds expand to include other possibilities and creative ideas begin to flow. It is a win win situation for humanity at large.

Ordinary tourism is not the best way to expand your world view, however.

There’s a hitch to this international travel bit, however. In order for the benefit to be really noticeable, you’ve got to consider being something other than just a tourist. Tourism is great. I’ve been both a tourist and an “untourist”, but if you really want to experience how the locals live, tourism alone does very little to reach that goal.

View of Mediterranean

View of the world — the Malaga harbor from the Alcazaba

How many people have I known who went to Cancun, for example, and stayed at a resort the entire time or board a cruise ship and do a few hurried ports of call. Tour guides are wonderful, especially if you want to get the history and background about a region or an architectural wonder, but let’s face it, you’re usually with your own kind and the whole experience is packaged in such a way as to make things feel safe and familiar.

Feeling at home while away from home is, well, not very different than staying at home.

It’s that feeling of familiarity that makes packaged tourism so desirable to so many, but what they’re missing is the wonders of something new and different. When you stick your big toe in the proverbial waters — something miraculous takes place. You experience life almost like you did for the first time as a teenager. Remember what that felt like? All of those firsts? You felt so excited because you were learning and thus expanding your mind and spirit. That’s what traveling as an “untourist” can do for you.

Yep! After almost a decade, I’m still doing it, and I believe continuing to reap the benefits.

I’m retired and have been traveling long term for almost twelve years now. I honestly believe that my little grey cells continue to flourish and thrive because I have chosen for the most part to avoid packaged travel deals. When I’m in an unfamiliar region, I have to do a lot of problem solving and that forces my brain to make new connections, the same kind of connections that my brain used to make all the time when I was young and experiencing the multitude of new adventures that life offered me. Most importantly, I have developed a keen sense of admiration for the differences between cultures, often times adopting or adapting to these new ways and, consequently, becoming less rigid about my own ways of doing things. I also soon discover that we’re all more alike that I ever realized. That is a very reassuring discovery.

Novelty and the Brain ( a great article about the effect of new experiences on the brain)

It’s a wonderful thing to be part of a mobile, modern world. It’s one of the best things about being alive in this day and age.  I know that there’s a hundred different reasons to be hesitant to travel internationally in an independent fashion, but there’s also an equal number of reasons to give it a shot. I guarantee  that you will have experiences to write home about that you never would’ve had on a traditional tour.

Happy trails …

Greeting Card from the See Spain Collection
Greeting Card from the See Spain Collection by GypsyCamera
Look at more cards from Zazzle.

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  1. Like you, Teresa, we live to travel and now that we’re retired we’re finding those 6 short months we’re ‘allowed’ to travel outside of Canada are far too short for our liking! Totally agree that traveling and living like a local helps the little grey cells. It keeps us young and we simply cannot get enough. Loved the pic of Malaga, btw. It’s on our to-do list for this winter before we hit Nice for a repeat housesit. Kudos as well for Finding The Gypsy in Me book. Loved it. Inspiring and a definite must read.

    • Hi, Dianne. So glad to have found another kindred spirit in the virtual world of travel. It sounds like you totally “get it”. Until one travels as an untourist, it’s hard to understand how it feels. Keep the wheels rolling for as long as you can, my friend. Thanks for taking the time to drop by and make such a kind comment.

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