You may have heard of the popular saying, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”, and you wonder, “How is that even possible?” You probably haven’t gone on that dream trip because, well, it’s too expensive. So how is spending lots of money on a vacation going to make you richer?
I’ll answer that in this article, but before I do, I’m reminded of an interview with Bob Marley where he was asked, “Are you a rich man?”
He thought for a while and then asked the interviewer, “When you say ‘rich’, what do you mean?”
The interviewer responded, “Do you have a lot of possessions? Lots of money in the bank?”
“Possessions make you rich?” Bob asked him, then he continued, “I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever.”
I found his response very intriguing. Bob Marley was a man who at that time was at the peak of his musical career, and yet for him, wealth meant more than just money. Wealth for him was life. And this for me, is why travel makes you richer. Because money is a resource that replenishes itself. There will always be more money. However, time, when it’s gone, it’s gone. It never comes back. So travel is that one investment that you make and it leaves you wealthy with memories, experiences, friendships, knowledge… etc.
With travel you’ll discover that there are things in this world that can never be learnt in school. There are experiences you can never gather from that little corner of that town you live. There are networks and connections you can never make sitting in one place.
Here are my top 5 reasons why a traveler is a very wealthy individual.
1. It expands your network.
I’ll like to say that travel is by far the best social currency I’ve encountered. The amazing network you build and develop as a result of touring the earth can never be overemphasized. There are destiny moments – life changing moments that will meet you on a path. I said this with passion because it has become my reality. There are things that have happened to me because I left where I was, took a leap of faith to little/unknown territories and things changed for the better. There are people I’ve met on the way that have changed my life and has been of great help to me just as I’ve been to them. Tim Cahill put it better when he said, “A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.”
2. It expands your world view.
With travel, your view of the world expands. You can’t travel and still see the world the same. It’s not possible. Just as Gustav Flaubert said, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” You’ll see that what you’re going through is nothing compared to what people are going through everyday all over the world and still finding ways to conquer. The other day I traveled to a seaside, met a fisherman (I’ve never seen him before till that day), and I asked him to tell me his story. His story broke me. Stories of leaving his family and toiling for nights in the dangerous sea and sometimes catching nothing, yet coming back and doing it the same day because his kids must go to school. They must be afforded the opportunity he wasn’t. Or was the kid I saw running around the streets of Uyo, Nigeria, dressed in masquerade costume and dancing for strangers in exchange for money. I asked him why he was doing that. It happened that he was driven out of school because of school fees, and instead of roaming the streets, he decided to become creative to get his school fees. Guess how much was his school fees? $10. These are stories of courage in living every day.
This goes beyond understanding just how others live and survive, but also politics, governance, and how the world works. You’ll find out that what works in your hometown may not work in another man’s land. You begin to see things differently. Your interpretation of the world changes completely. It becomes easier for you to spot opportunities and take advantage of them. You get introduced to newer ways of doing things, new ways of thinking, and different ways of processing thoughts and ideas. It was Henry Miller, the American writer that said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” And this is true. You can never be an adventurer and have a closed mind, it’s not possible.
3. It helps you find yourself
Travel shows you more of yourself. You discover yourself more, you see yourself as more, and yes, you become more. James Baldwin, the famous American novelist and playwright once said, “I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself.” It is true what they say, that not all those that wander are lost. Many who wander end up finding themselves.
4. You build courage – you become fearless
There is a certain kind of uncertainty that comes when one sets his/her feet on a path to an unknown land. You begin to ask questions like, ‘What will I expect?’ ‘Is it safe there?’ There are lots of what-ifs that come with it. The Italian poet, Cesare Pavese explains it this way, “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comforts of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things. -air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky. -all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”
However, striking out, especially alone into the world increases your personal tenacity. Every day, you have to face the unfamiliar, the unusual, be alone, and you’re expected to scale through. Mark Jenkins explained this perfectly when he said, “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”
It also enhances your security awareness. You know how to act and what to do when faced with different situations. Nothing scares you anymore. No road becomes too long it can’t be covered, and no mountain becomes too high it can’t be climbed.
5. It fills you with stories – and priceless memories.
I once visited a friend and while we sat together one evening with his family, the discussion went towards my travels. They all sat down listening with rapt attention as I narrated stories of some of my crazy adventures. It felt so fulfilling. The memories filled me with so much joy. Ibn Battuta, the popular scholar and explorer of the 14th Century once said, “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
And this, for me, is what life is about – to live it with no regrets. The goal is to die with memories not dreams; to fill your heart and mind with memories; to smile as you recall a life well lived. For in this life, like Chief Seattle once said, we must “take only memories, leave only footprints.”
So ask yourself, what stories will you tell your grandchildren when you’re old? Will you tell them stories of life burdened with bills, or will you tell them stories of your adventures around the world? The choice is yours.
Think of travel as an investment rather than an expense. An investment in travel is an investment in your growth. The more we travel, the more we see. The more we see, the more we know. The more we know, the more we grow. The more we grow, the more we change, and evolve as a person. So yes, travel is not just some luxury reserved for the privileged, no. It is a necessity.
And though it’s not listed above, but you develop a deep sense of gratitude. You’ll realize that life is a gift and that the time we have here is short. So like Anthony Bourdain advised, “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”― Jack Kerouac
Did you enjoy this article, then you’ll love reading How Travel Changes You. Please leave a comment for me, and let me know what your thoughts are.