Must Love Traveling

by Benjamin on May 25, 2010

What could be better to break out my month-long writing block than a conversation post with the always charming Grace Boyle from Small Hands, Big Ideas?  Nothing.  :)   Inspired by a previous post on her site, we had another discussion, this time surrounding the benefits of travel.  Grace’s input can be seen in green and mine in blue.  Join in the conversation by leaving a comment!

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When I started to write this post, I wanted to call it “You Have To Be A Great Traveler to Be My Friend.”  I’m thinking that might be a little harsh.  But I know that I consciously surround myself with flexible people.  I use the term ‘Go With The Flow’ for these types of people and Grace has used the term ‘People Who Are Down.’

A quote that summed up my thoughts when I started writing this post is as follows:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

I love people who are down. I would say, that most of my closest friends are down, into trying new things, like to be spontaneous, they’re adventurous and look for the ‘walk-to-the-edge’ kind of living. With that being said, (and I greatly learned from friends’ reactions and comments from that post) I think the balance of personalities is important. We all react differently and choose our own path, doesn’t make someone more or less fun and interesting. Being down, means different things to different people and I try not to pigeon-hole :)

I agree that it doesn’t make someone less interesting or fun because they react differently. Change affects everyone and sometimes adverse reactions are impossible to avoid.  But I think travel can help someone who reacts poorly (read:with lots of anger or frustration) to some forms of change be more accepting of it.  Even if you aren’t good with change right now, you can be trained by going across the world or just down the street.

There are two reasons why traveling molds you into a problem solver.  The first reason is because you have to make a plan.  You pack your bags, print out your itinerary and ask someone to drop you off at the airport.  But you don’t have to travel to make plans, they are made every day.  Plans are important; I find myself making plans for my professional success as well as personal.  I even have plans for how I am going to eat for the week.

Planning aside – traveling opens you up to new opportunities, puts you out of your comfort zone (imminent problem solving situation) and can be challenging. I think we learn the most when we’re challenged and uncomfortable. [Ben: great point!] Furthermore, traveling can also be rewarding because you do learn to problem solve while also thoroughly enjoying yourself in new environments.

Inevitably though, something will happen that ruins your plans.  The plane is delayed.  Your bag missed its flight and won’t be arriving for another four hours.  You left your binky at home, how will you sleep!?!  Time to switch to Plan B.  In order to keep sanity while traveling, plans often have to change and improvisation is needed.  Traveling trains your mind to make plans and also to know when to break or modify them.  These are two essential traits to succeed in career and also life in general.

Yes! I love the “ruined” plan. When I travel I try to actually not make plans or have little-to-no expectations – these are my favorite moments of travel. I agree with you Ben, that traveling helps you plan while also knowing when to let go, work with what you’ve got and modify.

That is a great idea, I am actually headed to NYC for this weekend and I am going to attempt to live just out of a backpack.  Not a huge deal for most people, but I am a notorious over-packer.  :-)
Yes, good idea! I also think you can tell a lot about a person with the way they pack :)
Travel is like my reset button. Some people might call it running away, but I call it running toward. Shaking things up (mentally and physically) is important. This might be culturally, with people, surroundings, food, currency, language and desires – all of which, travel brings to you. I encourage traveling internationally, domestically or even right in front of your nose to places that might only be a few hours away but can teach you something.

One of my close friends from studying abroad was very stubborn and Type A – she loved having everything her way and didn’t like her travel plans to be ruffled. We traveled a good amount throughout Europe together and I saw the progression where she began to loosen up a little.

She had plans, itineraries, printed out hostel information – the works. What do you think happened when we traveled? We missed trains, didn’t make it to exhibits, got caught in the rain, got lost over and over and had plans “ruined.” Although I didn’t look at them as ruined, because something else was gained and we learned to problem solve together. Slowly but surely, she learned to go with the flow just a little bit more (even though we made fun of her intense planning). This was gratifying for her, as well as me, to see the expansion of her experience through traveling.

I had a roommate like that in college, very type A.  He practically slept on his books attempting to gain knowledge by osmosis.  We definitely made fun of his intense planning, haha.  But a little while after living with us, we were able to coax him out of his room to come out with us and blow off a little steam.  It was great to see him get out of his shell and enjoy himself.

Also, there is a saying that goes “A new broom sweeps clean.”  This describes the idea that changing one thing with another thing of similar value will bring a better outcome.  One way to shake things up would be to change your surroundings.  Traveling and interacting with people in different parts of the world can bring a fresh perspective and provide inspiration for stubborn problems.

This previous anecdote isn’t about traveling so much as going with the flow, much like this post.  Grace, I think that you make great points about different personality types and how they work together.  It seems as though my instincts of the ‘must love travel’ post title being too harsh is correct.  I just love the idea of travel and I have never found a better way to solve problems I have been stuck on, hit my reset button or enjoy a new adventure.

I don’t think that ‘Must Love Travel’ is harsh. It’s true to you. I’ve alluded to the same way of life and if we break it down, I can’t imagine a significant other/partner that doesn’t have the same adventurous spirit for travel (alone and with me) because it says a lot about who the person is and their ideology. This may sum it up nicely: “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandria May 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Great conversation you two! As a passionate travel writer, I have come to see the many benefits of traveling and have experienced first-hand the progression that can take place within one who travels. I still remember how my first travels to Paris, living abroad for four months, had greatly changed and molded who I was as a person. I began to solve problems easier like you said, because when you’re put through uncertain situations, your instincts to ‘survive’ – however extreme the situation may be – become greatly acute. And I think you can learn a great deal about yourself as well. I had never thought before that trip that I could get on a bus to a place I had never been before and somehow manage to find my way around, find a place to stay and simply ‘survive’ by myself. It was exhilarating!

Great post – I would love to hear more!

Beth Oppenheim June 7, 2010 at 11:25 am

Hello guys! Lovely post. I am in the midst of planning a traveling adventure, so it was a great time for me to read this post.
I think also for me, traveling allows me to live in the moment in a way i never thought possible.

:)

Benjamin June 7, 2010 at 10:07 pm

@ Alexandria – I love that you have experienced the same transforming changes of traveling. Every new trip I take teaches me something new about myself and that’s what makes travel so important to me. Also, the feelings of independence build upon each other. After I began my freshman year of college, I learned that I could survive on my own and that pushed me to explore more of the world from there. Thanks for the comment!

@Beth – I love your thought about how traveling allows you to live in the moment. I love to plan travel to different places and then never have an itinerary once I arrive. Then I like to be spontaneous, using either recommendations from friends or from Yelp, to find cool places in the local area. Great comment Beth!

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