3 Reasons Why International Travel Makes You a Better Person

If you’ve ever traveled to other countries you know that it can provide such a humbling experience, especially to the things we take for granted like clean water, paved roads, etc.  It can help inspire and motivate, and it can help you gain new perspectives.

When you travel, the places you visit and the interesting people you meet can change you in unexpected ways. As an entrepreneur or business leader, your travels can really give you some new ideas about how to shake things up.

Although the advent of COVID-19 has slowed travel and placed new restrictions on visiting other countries, I am confident that travelers will begin to venture out into the world again as soon as they feel safe to do so. I know that I am especially looking forward to that day. 

While a nature vacation close to home may be a good alternative right now, in the future, giving international travel a try can literally alter how you see the world. And it can make you a better person.

Here’s how.

It encourages empathy

Empathy – the ability to understand another person’s feelings or hardships –  is conditioned into the human brain.   Because travel forces us to get outside our comfort zone and to encounter new people and new situations, it strengthens our ability to empathize with a broader range of people.

Moreover, empathy is tied to travel and discovery in another way: it promotes high emotional intelligence. An individual with high EQ shows empathy, genuine concern, listens attentively and has the ability to build rapport with very little effort. It is remarkable to see how much easier things are if you just know how to deal with people and connect with them emotionally and make them feel comfortable.  

It gives you new perspective

Travel and change of place brings new perspectives to common life situations, like solving conflict.  It’s hard to emphasize how differently your mind can work if you’re open to traveling and experiencing new cultures. It can make you more open to change and resilient to conflicting points of view.

In a 2014 study among MBA students, those students who became highly engaged in other cultures had an easier time holding multiple, conflicting viewpoints in mind at the same time. Their interactions with other cultures gifted them a breadth of perspective they didn’t have before.

It increases self-awareness

Being more open to others also makes us more open to ourselves.  Traveling abroad and reflecting on your values as you situations outside of your comfort zone can  make you more self-aware. Travel keeps our minds “flexible” because it challenges us to do and see things differently. This, in turn, develops perhaps the most valuable skill of all – creativity.

In the workplace, creativity is essential to solving complex problems.  In fact, studies have shown that executives who have gained exposure to other cultures and languages are more creative and daring in their approach to their work.

Through travel we are able to find humanity in ourselves while discovering the humanity in others – and in the process we may discover a better version of ourselves.

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