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7 Reasons You Should Travel While You’re Young

7 Reasons You Should Travel While You’re Young

I have been very fortunate to travel extensively throughout the world while still young. I have visited most of the continental United States, plus many cities in Alaska and Hawaii. I also traveled abroad to Africa, Switzerland, Ireland, Great Britain, Scotland, France, Mexico, and Bonaire. I then lived for several years in Grenada, West Indies. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world, and I still have so many countries yet to visit. Based on my experience, I recommend every young person get out of their hometown and see what’s out there. Here are seven ways traveling changed me forever.

1. Traveling changes the way you relate to the world.

I grew up in a tiny rural town. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to travel when I was younger, I would have a difficult time envisioning much else outside my comfortable country bubble. When you travel to other countries and see the amazing beauty of sunsets over seas, eagles riding mountain currents, monkeys swinging through rain forests, grizzlies catching salmon in the rapids, majestic waterfalls spilling off vertical drops, and volcanoes smoking under their fiery breath, you realize the world is full of more beauty that you are capable of seeing in a lifetime. But, you still have the intense passion to try.

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If you don’t see this when you are younger, you have less desire to venture out when you are older and have job and family constraints in play. If I didn’t know what I was missing, I would have less of a desire to put the effort into taking the time to travel. You also develop a deeper sense of obligation to save our planet’s beauty for the coming generations. After all, you’ve seen it firsthand, and it’s worth saving!

2. Traveling changes the way you relate to others.

Unfortunately, the area I grew up in didn’t have much diversity. Everyone looked and acted basically the same. When I traveled, I learned about other cultures. I realized that my life could be enriched by developing friendships with people who didn’t look or act like me. Far from my hometown, I developed friendships with people who were nothing like me, but were exactly what I needed. This taught me to embrace, not fear, experiences and relationships that were outside my comfort zone. It also taught me the importance of communication skills. Let’s just say I paid a lot better attention during college Spanish class after visiting Mexico, and perked up in French class after my time in France and Africa.

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3. Traveling humbles you enough to realize it’s not all about you.

The older I become, the more I realize I actually know very little about life. It seems the confidence of knowing it all is usually graced upon the young. However, the sooner that bubble bursts, the better; at least in my case. Traveling sometimes puts you in tough situations. You see that the world is so much bigger than your perspective on it. You soon realize the world doesn’t revolve around you. You learn that you really weren’t the big fish in the ocean, but just a tiny minnow in a pothole.

Now, that doesn’t mean you aren’t still important, but it does change your perspective to be more open to learning from other people and situations vs lecturing and bestowing your vast wisdom to those lucky enough to be in earshot. Traveling teaches you to let go of the perceived concept of control. You learn that it’s a big enough challenge to just control yourself, and learn to give up trying to do so for the rest of the planet.

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4. Traveling empowers you to take on new challenges.

Just as traveling is humbling, it is also empowering. You realize you can do things you never thought possible. For example, I have lived for the past two years in Grenada, West Indies. I have always enjoyed driving on the right side of nicely paved and open roads of the U.S. Here, I was thrown into driving on the left side of the road on twisty mountain passes down broken roads that aren’t much bigger than a one-lane driveway, yet they expect two-way traffic to freely meet around the blind corners. Add to the lovely mix the fact that there are drop-offs with no guard rail along most of the drive, and far below the sheer free fall you see the rooftops of homes.

So, if I lose control, I not only kill myself, but I land on a house and kill a nice family having dinner. No pressure! Yet, after more than a few white-knuckled moments, I can now drive comfortably with the locals and don’t bat an eye at the drop offs, the livestock in the road, the pot holes, or the fact that there is no way I should have made it through that tight squeeze with that oncoming car without losing a mirror. Conquering this fear helped me learn that I could adapt to more than I felt I was capable of conquering. I think that’s a good thing to learn at any age, but you can apply it longer throughout your lifetime if you start early.

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5. Traveling gives you empathy for global suffering.

When you travel, you learn how much you truly have that you take for granted. Many people live in poverty that is unfathomable to those who have never walked their streets and heard their stories. Watching the wars and famines on the news takes on a whole new meaning when you have a personal connection with the people there. You lose the callousness and egotistic attitude that can sometimes develop when you can’t relate to that region of the world. And, it compels you to help others and give back.

6. Traveling pushes your educational horizons.

Sadly, I never liked history in school. Just reading the stories in books seemed so boring to me. However, when I visited the palace of Versailles in France, marveled at the architecture of basilicas in Africa, climbed the ruins of castles in Ireland, visited the White House, and walked the halls of the Louvre, I couldn’t help but get a new appreciation for history. Traveling makes history come alive. The stories are no longer pictures in a book, but tangible memories you remember much longer than anything you could study in school.

7. We are never guaranteed old age, so enjoy life’s experiences now!

I think a lot of young people put off traveling because they want to be responsible, work hard, get married, have kids, and build up a life. However, I think it’s a mistake to put off traveling in exchange for the belief that you can do it when you retire and have more time. While I certainly plan to continue to travel after I retire, I also realize I am not guaranteed old age. If something happens and I don’t live to see my forties, fifties, or sixties, I will have no regrets. I have experienced the world to the best of my ability by taking every opportunity presented to me to see all of this gorgeous planet that I can. Traveling has made me the person that I am, and I’m so grateful that I have plenty of years left with this version of me to continue the adventure.

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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