Travel doesn't only offer you a visa-laden passport and stories to bring home to the grandkids. It's not all postcards and kitschy souvenirs, cathedral pictures, and folded up maps crumpled inside suitcases. There's something about hitting the open road that changes you - whether you want to or not, whether you're ready for it or got blindsided. And it's amazing.
Below are six reasons travel will make you a more awesome version of yourself — isn't it time you met her?
1. You Become A Whole Lot Better At Leaping
Before travel, chances are you'd take some time to hem and haw your options and try to plot out every worst case scenario that could happen before finally - finally - putting your hands over your eyes and jumping. But after being on the road for awhile? You just cannonball right in.
Travel makes you feel like the world isn't against you, but with you. It's your sidekick and wants to have fun with you, and so you link arms and throw your legs right off of the edge. You'll book those tickets to the places you never crossed off your list in your youth and you'll realize that your time is truly now. The leap is no longer all that scary — it's the first sentence of a new story.
2. You Find Your Bravery
Don't get me wrong, getting more stamps in your passport doesn't make you less scared of things. You still feel that clutch in your tummy and that uncomfortable zing that makes you want to curl your palms into nervous fists. But now when you think of booking that ticket to Morocco alone, taking that snowy hike through the mountains, getting off of the path and following the river with your bike - you still feel scared, but you don't let yourself listen to it. You're brave now, and you like the way it feels on you.
3. You Don't Stress Mistakes
You might miss buses, cancel plane tickets, get overcharged at restaurants, and feel like things are a mess. But instead of crumpling to the ground in a five-year-old type of tantrum, after traveling a bit you'll take these things in stride. You'll be more level-headed, collected, and ready to find the silver lining. Because you already know that life is messy, and mistakes and scraped knees are part of the process rather than something to be avoided. And with each bump in the road, you figure out how to do things differently next time.
4. You Become A Little Wilder
There's a vodka in Vietnam with a rattlesnake marinating in it, you say? Hand over a shot. Travel makes you wild for experience, hungry to see what you can find around the corner and curious to see if you'll like it. And it's an amazing, wonderful feeling — even if your version of wild is simply staying out past 10pm.
5. You See How Colorful Everything Is
When you've been kicking around one zip code for long enough, you forget what kinds of colors are out there. Everything sort of blends into this homey version of oatmeal and, even though you love it, you forget that you can look at the world through a kaleidoscope if you want to. And you begin to realize just how loud and colorful everything is. From the citrus colors of saris in India to the blue buildings in Morocco that borrowed shades from the sky; from the sherbet buildings winding through Madrid to the wild acid colors and sequins of Brazil, you can all but taste life.
6. You Remember To Be Happy With Little
There will be moments where you're sitting at a cafe with a little glass of vermouth, or sitting next to a campfire in a desert as the man next to you plays a harmonica, or you crouch down to accept a flower from a child, and you'll feel a little knock. And it will be happiness, in the most sigh-inducing, sunshine-in-your-eyes, way.
And during moments like those, you'll gain the best perspective: It doesn't matter what's in your suitcase, what's waiting for you back at home, how you compare to other people, how impressive your life story looks on paper. All that matters is this feeling. This feeling of connection, contentment of the moment, and this quiet wonder of getting to experience life.