While a nice visit to a Florida Beach with your inner tube and paddle ball set definitely qualifies as a “vacation,” there is much more of the world to explore beyond our own borders. While some may find a visit out of the U.S. to be “out of their comfort zone” a visit abroad can really broaden perspectives on life. Really, there is nothing to be afraid of and much to be gained. Here are just a few of the many reasons to “hop the pond.”
- Flying is much better overseas.What? You mean the hours and hours are not going to make me miserable in my airplane seat? Well, I did not say that. However, did you know that you get actual meals and free drinks on most international flights? Yep. That is one great reason to try it out. Not to mention the service is better and most planes are roomier with more exit rows and bulkhead options. Did I mention the free movies on your personal entertainment device? One of my go-to’s for finding low cost overseas flights is Kayak.com. You can even try the “explore” option if you are flexible on locations to find some uber cheap flights. Tip: fly out of a big city if you can. Google Flights is another reliable planner.
- Experiencing other cultures will give you a better appreciation for life. The people you meet and the traditions you observe along the way can really shape the way you see reality. While you can definitely get some of that here in the good ole’ U. S. of A., being immersed in the thick of it in a new country. You can try new food, dance to a new song, and even try a new activity. It’s all waiting to be explored!
- Going abroad can allow you to lose (or find) yourself.There is no better way to see what you are made of then to drop yourself into a country you have never seen before surrounded by a language you have never spoken. While that may sound scary to some, it is extremely liberating to discover that you actually can fend for yourself and that human kind really does still have compassion when a traveler is lost.
- You can make friends abroad.What better excuse to visit another country again than to have to visit some friends in a year or two? You will be surprised how friendly people can be. That owner of the B&B is going to want to know all about life in your hometown. If you join in on a travel group or even just meander the cobblestone streets, chances are, you will meet a friendly local or two. While these “friendships” may be short lived, you just may find a life-long friend.
- You can taste the foods of the world.Try something new! Ever fancied a bowl of haggis? What about potato dumplings in sheep’s milk? Just like your mom said, you’ll never know if you like it if you never try it! An array of tasty things are just waiting for you to discover whether you are going to Korea or Slovakia. Just don’t be surprised with you absolutely fall in love with trying new things.
- Soul searching is included.Traveling abroad can mean many things for the traveler. Maybe you are searching for yourself. Perhaps you are searching for what you want to do in your life. Even still, maybe you want to visit the places your family came from. Whatever the goal may be, traveling abroad can get you there. Want to see the old house in Poland that your grandmother grew up in? Go!
- Traveling abroad will make you appreciate your life more.Everyday things we have grown accustomed to can get lost in the business of our daily lives. Seeing the way kids live in Cambodia will make you step back and appreciate how lucky and blessed you are to have a hot meal whenever you want it along with clothing and a roof over your head. What’s even more beautiful is seeing people with way less than you who are extremely happy in life. (Didn’t you just complain yesterday about the line at Starbucks?)
- You can help others. Ecotourism is growing in popularity lately. Why not get your grubbies dirty building a community school in China? How about feeding some homeless people in Vietnam? You can experience a new culture and help the community there. Now that’s a win-win.
- Get away from it all.It will be easy not to respond to work calls when you are out of calling range (resist the urge to get a sim card and give the new number to everyone you know). Disappear and really get away. “I’ll be in Turkey. Talk to you in a week.” Not only will you get away from work and problems, but you will be so distracted by all of the new experiences, you will forget you were ever stressed out in the first place.
- See really cool stuff.From the Coliseum in Rome to the Great Wall of China, you are sure to make great memories (and take great photos) abroad. Gawk at the Pyramids in Egypt. Dip in the Danube River in Austria. Ride an elephant through a Thai jungle. Slide down the Swiss Alps. Hug a Wallaby. It can all be attained by traveling abroad!
- Everything is cheap.Disclaimer: things can be expensive, if you fall into the “tourist traps.” Check out fellow (and my) travel blogs and see how savvy travelers do it. For example: tourists in Phuket could pay $50 USD for dinner. However, if you go to the local restaurants (which are way more delicious and also safe by the way) you will not pay over $5 USD and eat like a king or queen. Be savvy. Come home with money in your pocket. Of course, the most expensive part of traveling abroad is the overseas flight. Once that is taken care of, the rest is super economical – if you know what you are doing. Even travel between countries once you leave America is cheap. Did you know you could fly from France to Sweden for $35 (with budget airlines like Ryan Air)? Believe it.
Whatever your reason for taking the plunge into a new country and culture, one thing is for sure: you will not come back the same. Experiencing new things and cultures will be sure to change your perspective on life and give you the most valuable thing that money cannot buy: precious memories.
Have you booked your trip yet?
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© 2018 Elana Nichols, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author.