If you are like me, you absolutely love to travel. It is a part of who you are. And when you are asked why you travel by friends, family or complete strangers, you will list a myriad of reasons:
1. You love meeting new people.
2. You love experiencing new things.
3. You love seeing new places.
4. You love tasting new foods.
5. You love adventure and the spontaneity that the journey brings.
6. You enjoy pushing yourself out of your comfort zone
7. You enjoy the personal growth that happens within you through the culmination of everything you experience and the people you meet.
I want to specifically touch on this last point – the personal growth and the transformation that happens within because this can be difficult to express, unless you actually give it some serious thought. I know I struggled to express this in words when I returned from backpacking on my own for over a year. I had undergone a massive change personally. But, what exactly did this look like on paper?
Let’s analyze 12 common characteristics of people who love traveling. Bear in mind that many of these are learned traits that are refined the more one travels. And if you are an aspiring traveler – the best advice I can give you is take the plunge. Traveling will change you for the better. Without a doubt.
1. We are adventurous
Traveling more often than not involves venturing out into the unknown. It involves traveling to a new place, meeting new people and engaging in new experiences. As travelers, we naturally have an adventurous spirit. It is part of who we are, and the more we travel, the more we feed this spirit. Adventure is our normal.
2. We are empathetic
We have a strong sense of empathy. This is a culmination of our diverse experiences, the diverse cultures we encounter and the diversity of the people we meet. We may encounter immense poverty in certain countries. We will share stories with random strangers. We will work random jobs, from being a bartender, to a cleaner and even a waiter.
We have experienced tough times such as being stranded or having our bags stolen. All these experiences and encounters allow us to accept and appreciate differences amongst people. They allow us to see the world differently and see things through another persons’ point of view.
3. We are willing to learn; we are curious
As we move from place to place and meet new people we continuously find ourselves learning new things (whether out of choice or not). We become intensely curious about everything and are eager to learn new things, whether it be cultural customs or a new skill.
4. We welcome change; it’s a way of life
When we travel, the only constant is change. We find ourselves surrounded by new people and new places regularly. Over time, we learn to welcome those changes. We learn to expect them. When we meet a new person, we are cognisant of the fact that that person has their own travel itinerary in mind and they probably won’t be around forever. Change becomes a way of life.
5. We have higher self-awareness
Self-awareness refers to our knowledge and awareness of our own personality and character. It also allows us to understand ourselves better and how others perceive you. It is the first step in developing your EQ and it is shaped by our experiences. As travelers, we draw from a diverse spectrum of experiences as it relates to people and cultures. Through traveling often and reflecting on those experiences we develop higher self-awareness.
6. We have higher self-esteem
Whilst we travel, we find ourselves continuously pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. We talk to random strangers. We meet new people at hostels. We create travel plans on the move. We overcome challenges such as having to deal with having money stolen (this happened to me; my entire account was cleaned out in New Zealand). All this improves our confidence in our own abilities; to overcome any challenges that are thrown our way. Traveling develops our self-esteem.
7. We know ourselves better
This may seem cliché, but it’s true. Traveling teaches us about our strengths, our weakness, what we like and don’t like. It teaches us about our personality.
For example during my travels, I spent time living and working on a dairy farm (very remote) and also time living and working in a city, where I lived with 16 people in a house. I enjoyed both experiences, but at some point, I either longed for more human interaction (when working on the dairy farm) or more ‘me-time’ (whilst working in the city). I am an introvert and an extrovert. What have you learned about yourself through traveling?
8. We are more observant
“A traveler without observation is like a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi.
It may not seem obvious that we as travelers are observant. After all, there is so much that we need to take in as we move from place to place. Surely our brains will filter out a lot of information as to prevent information overload?
If you think about it though it is for that exact reason that we are more observant. We have become accustomed to taking in a lot. A sensory overload if you like. Of sights. Places. People. Our brains are well accustomed to taking in a lot more and as a result we filter out less. We have trained ourselves to observe more. And besides, we have far less distractions such as mobile phones and laptops.
9. We are more grateful
Gratitude is the base or foundation from which appreciation grows. When we are traveling we are often exposed to other people who live in immense poverty. We are exposed to ways of living that seem morally incorrect. This makes us more grateful for what we do have. For being able to have food. To be able to afford to actually travel in the first place. It’s easy to forget.
10. We are more appreciative
From our feelings of gratitude, we develop a greater appreciation. We find beauty in those things that we previously took for granted. We accept, that that plate of food we have is giving us the needed nutrition. We recognize it’s value. We are more than grateful for those hiking shoes, we appreciate the value they provide in supporting our feet hike after hike. We appreciate our family and friends back home. Our appreciation is heightened.
11. We are very independent
When I was traveling and landed in New Zealand I didn’t have much money, but I made it work and organized myself accommodation and work.
When we travel, we realize it is just us and the big wide world. We are responsible for every step and action we take. Where we go. The places we see. The people we interact with. We learn to deal with any challenges that come our way, whether it be having to sort out visas, book accommodation or even organize a job.
12. We adapt well
Traveling by nature requires us to continuously adapt; to new environments, experiences and people. Traveling to a new country where there is different food, language(s) and ways of living, requires us to adapt our diets, learn some of the local language and function within new laws. There is constant change and we need to constantly adapt. Use that on your CV when applying for a job, where someone is skeptical about your ability to adapt to a new position.