It’s a well-perpetuated cliche these days, especially among people our age, that travelling is the best (and maybe only) way to truly ‘find yourself’. We normally hear this from the mouths of gappies sporting harem pants and an acoustic guitar on their backs — cue the eye-rolls — but they may have a point.
National Geographic has recently reported that travelling is, in fact, part of human nature. Homo-sapiens are instinctive hunter-gatherers, and historically moved around periodically in small communities in search of better resources and new social scenery — we are nomadic at our core. No wonder so many of us have an urge to explore.
Besides satisfying the yearning desire to wander in our inner consciousness, travelling is said to have many benefits for our health:
- It reduces stress — travelling and getting away from our everyday settings is a perfect way to relieve the pressures of work, studying, and family commitments.
- It can improve mental health — it has been proven that travel can alleviate the effects of depression and anxiety, either temporarily or even on a more long-term basis.
- It can boost intelligence — travelling is the perfect opportunity to pick up the basics of a new language, or learn about a new culture or historical period; feeling enlightened is an undeniably fulfilling experience.
- It broadens cultural knowledge — seeing new places is the best way to become more clued up on other cultures, something which could even be transferred to a better understanding of the UK’s multiculturalism.
- It exposes you to great food — although the menus in the UK are pretty varied, it’s easy to stick to what you know; going abroad can open you up to a whole new palate which could be your new favourite.
- It unites you with like–minded people — whether travelling solo or with others, there are numerous opportunities abroad to meet either locals or fellow adventurers who could become lifelong friends.
- It creates the best memories —if you live by the mantra that life is for memory-making, travelling is one of the best ways to achieve this; it’s the moments in far-off lands with brand new sights which often stick in the mind the most.
- It makes you more interesting — there’s nothing better in a slightly awkward social situation than a good travel anecdote.
- It makes you love home even more — there’s something super comforting about coming back from an exhausting trip to your own bed. While it’s incredible to explore the unknown, it’s also invaluable to wake you up to the amazing things about your own hometown and the beauty that the UK can offer too.
The physical desire to travel is something that varies from person to person. Especially to reach the planet’s more distant or remote places, the process of doing so sometimes involves prolonged discomfort in cramped planes and coaches, is often incredibly inconvenient, and almost always leaves a huge dent in the bank account. Nevertheless, it’s the most exotic of locations which normally seem most appealing. This must surely point towards an inquisitiveness about the unknown which some natural instinct demands we satiate.
Nowadays, there are inescapable moral dilemmas involved in travelling overseas. The coronavirus pandemic has obviously hindered much foreign travel for the foreseeable future, with some people experiencing a certain amount of guilt involved with going overseas during this time.
Climate change is also an unavoidable crisis in which travel is inextricably embroiled with —we all have a responsibility to alter our habits to help protect the environment. One way to do this is to refocus our views on ‘staycations’ — there are places within the UK which are astoundingly beautiful and offer the opportunity to see things you’ve never experienced before, with the not-insubstantial benefit of a much smaller price tag. No destinations should be written-off before you try them just because they’re not bragged about as much on the gram.
The most exciting thing about travel is those spontaneous moments and discoveries which form the most treasured of memories. It’s the unexpected things which change our perspective on the world when we stumble upon them which makes travel so essential to our wellbeing.