Why I Travel

Why I Travel To Learn About Myself

This is Why I Travel To Learn About Myself by Matt Inman
Written by Matt Inman

Why I Travel to Learn About Myself

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. – Neale Donald Walsch

We All Have Reasons for Doing the Things We Do.

Travel is no different.

People I’ve met on the road always have their reasons for being travelers.  Some recognize them, while others may not. Motives can range from wanting to see the world, to the simple fact that there were no good jobs back home for the person.

And, of course, there doesn’t have to be just one rationale behind why we do certain things.  There is certainly a plethora of reasons why I have chosen travel as a way of life.  However, one does stand out.

Travel to Learn

I think the most important reason I choose to travel is to learn.  To learn about the world we all live in, yes.  But even more importantly, I travel to learn about myself.

When remaining in one’s hometown or home country even, things, for the most part, stay the same.  Sure, friends may come and go.  You might get married, or even have a child.

For the most part though, things at home don’t change too drastically.  At least, this has been the case for me.  I always love to come home and catch up with friends and family.  But it’s also apparent to me that everything is essentially the same.  Considering it may be an unavoidable scenario, staying at home means one is never challenged. Never pushed out of that comfort zone we all know and love.

With Travel, the Opposite is True

As my most relevant example, Korea challenged me in so many ways, almost every single day.  Something that would be a part of normal routine back home, such as going to the bank, took a ton of courage (interspersed with moments of anxiety) to actually do.

I remember several times early on in Korea where I would just put something off because of the uncertainty of the situation.  Paying my phone bill, for instance.  “Will the guy be able to understand me?  Will I be able to understand him?  What if he charges me the wrong amount?  How will I tell him it’s not right?”

Rather than deal with these actually valid concerns, I would put them off for days. One time this resulted in having to pay a late fee.

Slowly, I began to realize that situations like these were why I traveled.  If I couldn’t overcome my anxiety in dealing with these essentially meaningless situations, then why I did I even get on the plane?  I was only wasting my time. Shooting myself in the foot.

All of the above.

So, I made it a point to deal with situations as they came, rather than wait for “the right time”.   I would allow myself some short time to feel the anxiety, and then I’d just push on right past it.

Looking back, I think I always knew I had a bit of anxiety in dealing with people.  But it was never something I really attempted to deal with and fix.  Could I have eventually recognized the problem and worked towards improving if I had never left home?  Sure, but it probably would have taken much longer.  Or the help of a therapist, but who knows?

What I do know is that travel has certainly made me a better person.  Travel forces you to take a real, more objective look at yourself.  I’d say it’s almost impossible not to do so.

Who Are You?

Ask yourself this: If you were to strip away everything and everyone you know, what would be left?

This can be difficult to ponder but is essentially what travel does to a person. We so closely identify with the people and things in our lives that we can’t imagine life without them. But they make up only a teeny tiny part of who we are.

When all of that stuff is gone, you can more easily able see what really makes you… well, you! Bizarre situations with strangers teach patience, stress management, what makes you happy, what bores you, what type of people you like to be around, and so, so much more.

In Korea, I was able to objectively see, for the first time, the meaningless anxiety I sometimes had. Why? Because everything about my life had changed. All that was left was me in a strange new land. Everything I knew was on the other side of the planet.  There was no real choice but to take a hard look at myself and see what was really up.

Travel has armed me with the knowledge to become a better person.

And I am by no means done.  As I continue to travel, I hope to continue to learn about myself.  For me, the two go hand-in-hand.

This is one of the many reasons Why I Travel.

Why do you travel? I’d love to read your thoughts below in the comments section!

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About the author

Matt Inman

6 Comments

  • Awesome post, Matt! You really knocked this one out of the park. I think I fervently agree with every sentence 😉

    Travel is definitely a very personal and introspective experience for me as well. I love putting myself into the flames and seeing how I emerge!

  • You put it into such great words – you can’t really find yourself until you step away from the usual people and things in your everyday life! I think learning is a reason every person travels, whether he/she realizes it or not. It’s just a part of the process and definitely one of my favorite parts! Great post. 🙂

    -Raza from http://www.thetravelixir.com

  • This makes so much sense to me. I crave travel situations because they get me out of my normal sense of well-being and make me think and live in ways I wouldn’t otherwise. When I used to work tourist seasons between Yellowstone and the Everglads, my life was pared down to the bare necessities, and it was the happiest I’ve ever been,