Travel has broadened our perspectives of the world and helped us to be more understanding and respectful of those with different cultures and backgrounds than us. Growing up with Chinese ethnicities and American nationalities and later, Canadian residencies, we have shaped our identities around the different cultures, people, and languages we were exposed to throughout our lives. Since traveling more extensively the last few years, we have been exposed to even more cultures and people and languages that were new to us. Some differences were more subtle in nature, and others were much more obvious. All of this has helped us realize that the world is a big place, and we’ve got a lot more to explore and learn if we are going to be citizens of the world and truly care for and respect all who are different from us. Here are stories from 10 travelers on how travel has broadened their perspective of the world.
It’s difficult to explain in words how travel has broadened my perspectives. I’m just a totally different person, and I change with every trip I take. It’s like having 1,000 layers on your body. Layers full of stories. I’m so grateful to have a mother who’s passionate about travel. She’s been travelling since she left home and decided to find her own place in the world. She shaped this travel monster that I am now. She brought me to Morocco at the age of 8, took me to stay with a family in Germany to learn German at the age of 9, and showed me Thailand and Colombia before I was 10 (just to mention a few).
Travel improves your adaptability, makes you feel at home wherever you find a smiling face, and helps you understand different points of views and how each city and country shapes people. Travel helps develop empathy. In short, travel makes you a dreamer, through the good and the bad.
On my solo trekking journey through the Republic of Georgia, I met up with two unlikely individuals to do some overnight trekking in the Caucasus mountains. I randomly met both of them through a blog that focuses on trekking in the Caucasus mountains. Our first meeting was in the city center of Tbilisi. It quickly became apparent that we were very different from one another. My two companions were males. One was a Muslim from Egypt. The other was an atheist from Sweden. I’m a Filipina who recently became agnostic. The tricky part was that our adventure entailed spending a significant amount of time together given we were trekking in the wilderness for 7 days, and the experience would undoubtedly require a certain level of trust among each other. Would that even be possible?
It turned out that our differences served as the highlight of the journey. Our daily trail ritual included passionate discussions about religion, love, life, politics and whatever else came to mind. The initial sense of intimidation and worry quickly dissipated upon learning that despite our major differences, we all shared one thing in common: open-mindedness. As we trekked from one old village to another at the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, we came to realize that we were all bonding as friends, so much so, that we all decided to extend our adventure for a few more days of trekking in Kazbegi. I’ve been backpacking on and off trails for the past 15 years. This moment right here had to be one of the most enlightening experiences I ever had on appreciating the beauty of diversity on my travels. Without the clashing of ideas set forth by our differences, I would have been deprived of the opportunity to grow, adapt and learn as a person. It was then that I realized that diversity is not something to be fearful of as it is a gift to be embraced and appreciated.
We all get used to how we live on a daily basis and nothing really ever challenges that until you travel outside your home country. For instance, you learn that your city really doesn’t have the worst drivers in the world. Peru’s traffic is insane when it turns 3 lanes to 5 lanes and traffic lights are more like suggestions. You also learn that your bathroom isn’t the best, cleanest, coolest bathroom. Japan has great bathrooms with toilets that play music, have heat settings, and also serves as a bidet! When you travel you learn how others live and at first it can be a culture shock but eventually it becomes a norm for you too.
Traveling changes your perspective and becomes education for living. We challenge everyone to travel, not for a week away from work, but to learn about the people and culture from somewhere completely different. That means doing what the locals do and shopping at open air markets for your groceries or walking around town instead of driving. Open your mind, and you will open your perspective of the world. We have learned about the hiking culture in Poland, siestas in Spain, cooking traditional food in Thailand, and using one of the most efficient metro systems in Hong Kong. Traveling the world has been one of the best decisions of our lives and has opened our eyes to see past our own complacency. As Mary Anne Radmacher said “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
“Don’t go to Dubai,” they said. “It’s too dangerous to be a Christian in a Muslim country,” they said. I didn’t care what they said and decided to throw caution to the wind and go anyways. I wanted to see what the elusive Middle East had to hold. From the moment I stepped onto the Emirates Airbus 380 plane, I had covered my hair and the rest of my body. I kept myself covered during my entire stay in Dubai. Some of my friends criticized me and claimed that I was abandoning my Christian beliefs and being disrespectful and trying to brew hate. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
What everyone else didn’t realize was that I had covered myself simply out of modesty and respect to the national religion of the United Arab Emirates. A few people asked me if I was Muslim (after hearing me speak English), and I told them that I was not and only wanted to be respectful to Muslim culture. Their eyes would always light up, and they would thank me for respecting their religion. They always asked me more questions about America and everybody was very interested in how my country worked – the same way I was intrigued by how their country did. Now, when I hear things on the news about Muslim countries, I have a greater appreciation for those regions of the world. I’ve traveled there and never felt unsafe. Instead, it opened my eyes to a place that many of my peers will never visit. That’s why it’s important to travel. Traveling puts you in other people’s shoes and will change your perspective on how you see the world.
Growing up in Siberia, I had a heightened awareness of how big the world ‘out there’ was. Even though my family used to move quite a lot, all of those places were pretty similar in that they were dark, cold, and far away from everything else. So, when an opportunity to pursue my education abroad arose, I didn’t need to think twice – I packed my bags and moved halfway across the world. As of today, I’ve lived in 4 countries and travelled to another 48. I’m thankful for having been able to see and experience this much because even in this day and age travel is a privilege.
Travel to me is not a hobby; it is a lifestyle and a mindset. It is also a fascinating mental exercise. When visiting a new exciting place, it is easy to get carried away by the beautiful landmarks (art, nature, food, you name it) and forget that real people live real lives in the same place at the same time. They might not care about how beautiful their home is if the living conditions are inadequate. This perspective helps me stay grounded and not glorify first impressions. I believe it is important to remember that these places are built for their residents, not tourists. For this reason, travel has been the best education for me: it reminds me how relative everything is, which is incredibly humbling.
Coming from a typical Indian background, I was always advised to be vigilant and careful at all times in any surroundings outside of my home. I had always been cautious and took extra precautions to avoid any kind of trouble (even when it is not trouble). I was hesitant to talk to locals and try local food. I was quite rigid with respect to my thoughts and the way I lived.
Travel taught me to trust. I talk to locals and other fellow travellers when I travel, and I have made some good friends from around the world. Traveling has helped me realise that every country has its culture and people, and it is the traveller who needs to make adjustments to fit into the new country and culture and not the other way around. It taught me that the world is not as bad as we think it is. I have learned to ask for help if I need it. Honestly, there are many people out there who go out of their way to help.
Like many people, travel has become an integral part of my life. When I was young, I followed my family around and often joined tours. But as I grew up, I realised that travel is so much more fun if I plan my own trips. I started making my own travel plans around 5 years ago (I’m 26 years old now). Since then, I have explored many parts of the world such as Europe, Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Thailand and more. I have done a lot of crazy things overseas – skydiving in Sydney, 12-day kayaking in Indonesia, camping in a freaking cold mountain in Japan, setting off fireworks in the middle of dessert in India, jumping down from a 12 meters cliff in Boracay Philippines (that was really painful as I landed wrongly), there are so many wonderful memories I have created because of travel.
And as you can see, my trips did not always go smoothly; I suffered pain and loss too. I got conned by locals, car broken by thieves, had serious food poisoning in India, but that’s part and parcel of experiencing life. The main lesson I learned is that despite these negative experiences, people in the world are generally friendly and helpful. You just need to ask and they will help. That’s another reason why I love travelling so much. You are never alone.
cultures, belief systems and customs. However, perhaps one of the easiest and most immersive exercises in accepting and understanding a new culture is learning the language! The more languages you can speak, the more people you can connect with and get to know!
Hopefully these travelers’ stories inspire you to strive for a more authentic experiences in your future travels. Make sure you check out each traveler’s website for more travel and cultural inspiration. How has travel broadened your perspective of the world? Tell us in the comments below!
Author: Diana Chen
Recently left my job as an attorney to pursue the work-from-anywhere/travel-everywhere life. I blog about traveling the world with a full time job, confronting your travel addiction, and pursuing your passions without going broke. Just got back from a month-long trip to Southeast Asia and currently prepping for Cuba.
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