Can traveling enhance your quality of life?

According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2017, Americans spent more than $1 trillion toward travel. With numbers thi

s staggering and the idea of wanderlust cementing itself in our collective consciousness, there must be something uniquely beneficial to packing a bag and setting out for new parts of the world.

From authors and celebrities to religious figures, everyone has something positive to say about the benefits of trave

l. Even I can  personally attest to the wonders of travel as this past July, I went on a 10-day tour of Italy.

It was my first time overseas and I can easily say that the trip was the best experience I have ever had. It was exciting to see the sites and taste authentic Italian food. The people I met and the memories we made along the way were also life-changing.

Travel is such an influential experience because it increases your quality of life. It can greatly affect the way you view the world and in turn, it can allow you to grow as a person.

The concept of “quality of life” is very subjective as individuals have different values and priorities. However, in an article written for Europe’s Journal of Psychology, Professor Marta Elvira of the IESE Business School in Spain gives an excellent definition for quality of life by defining it as a mixture of  “multidimensional factors” that include a person’s physical, mental, emotional, environmental and spiritual health.

Professor Elvira ultimately concludes that one’s quality of life is whatever they decide to make it. This essentially suggests that on an individual level, we have the power to enhance our quality of life.

Our decision to eat healthier, exercise, read more, and last but not least travel can allow us to have a richer and more fulfilling life.

Travel is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Nearly three-fourths of domestic trips are taken for recreational purpose

s. These travel experiences are shown to help improve an individual’s mental health. Traveling can also allow one to develop skills that can improve relationships, the ability to adapt, and a person’s confidence levels.

In other words, the more you travel the more comfortable you will become in handling new situations and surroundings. During my trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to book it myself. This pushed me outside of my comfort zone and forced me to be more independ

ent and responsible.

I had to adapt to whatever could have potentially happened on the trip. When I landed in Italy and met my fellow travelers, I quickly connected with them and formed friendships with people I never would have met in everyday life.

Whenever there was a bump in the road, and there were plenty, we all adapted together and made the most out of every situation. I felt renewed and reformed after my trip because of these experiences.

This experience is one that is true for myself and many others. Traveling can allow you to become a more independent and cultured person.

Experiencing a new culture is the only way to truly understand a culture and its people. You also gain a new level of empathy and a connection that only travel and experience can provide.

Maya Angelou summarizes this idea best, she states, “(P)erhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating t


hat all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

Along with the cultural benefits of travel, traveling has also proven to be a phenomenal method of language learning. Learning a new language through the means of traveling to a countr


y is known as language immersion.

In fact, language immersion has even proven to be a means of truly developing the dialect of that language. This is often highly dependent on one’s age. The younger a person is, the easier it is to develop an accent. It is also much easier to learn a language when you’re younger.

In understanding that youth is a relative term, it is important to note that the window of language learning is said to span the age of five to 14.

As a consequence, it is an excellent idea to start your language learning journey at a young age. However, absolutely anyone can learn a new language regardless of their age.

When you see other culture’s daily life unfolding before your eyes, it changes how your perspective on other cultures and your life. My advice is to go and increase your quality of life; travel and don’t waste time. The world is far too vast and magnificent, and it will not wait for you.

Make it a goal of yours to see a new place. Experience a new culture. Try a new food. As a Wilkes student, you have so many opportunities to do all these things and so much more. Our clubs and organizations such as our alternative spring break and study abroad initiatives are a perfect place to start.

All in all, if you take advantage of travel, no matter where you go, you will become richer both in quality of life and quality of character.