Often times, when people get scared of traveling out of Africa or their home countries, as an African myself, I tend to understand them and talk them into traveling and having an open mind. One common phrase I always say is, "You have not lived until you have traveled." This does not only relate to Africans but also to people from every part of the world. I personally share my experiences with them and implore them to take that leap of faith. For me, as a young girl, I was fascinated with books and stories. I was curious about the imagery and scenery of what was described in these books. For the longest time, I dreamt and hoped to one day see some of these things. But then this article is not about me; it is about you who are reading this and below I share some reasons why you should travel.
1. Travel broadens your mind: We are frequently in conflict about what we want to do in life, what shape we want our lives to take, and who we want to become. Traveling opens one’s mind to opportunities, to seeing things differently, and, most importantly, to never looking down on any occupation. My trip to Sweden, for example, taught me that every person and every job contributes to the survival of society, and that no one can survive independently of the other. You learn to see things differently and are more open to ideas, knowledge and learning.
2. Everlasting memories: Have you ever wondered why when people travel, they tend to want to do it over and over again? This is because of the memories that traveling creates! At a gathering of people, a discussion comes up about a certain location, and you can actively parade yourself as having visited the place and go on to tell stories about your journey, offer advice, and be the go-to person if they want to know more about how to proceed on their journey. I cannot even lie; the feeling is heavenly! Most importantly, if you go on such a journey with family and friends, it increases the fun memories, games, and adventurous activities that occupy one’s memory for a long time.
3. Travel builds character: This definitely applies to me. I often tell people who reach out to me for travel advice that I have grown more in the last 3 years compared to when I was back home under my parents' roof. By this, I mean mentally, socially, morally, and financially. I have had to take decisions I would ordinarily not have been in charge of. I have made mistakes, been misled, redirected myself right back on track, saved, planned, acted, and built heavily on the morals which I was taught back home. Trust me, it’s been a roller coaster for me, but then if I have an opportunity to do it again, I will take the decision to travel over and over again. Do you know why, because I have instilled confidence and independence in myself.
4. Different experiences, different cultures: The idea of experiencing a new culture, the idea of seeing different food, dance, songs and ways of life is something traveling does. Learning new languages, trying new foods, and making new friends boosts your morale as a person. Just like our fingerprints are different, everyone has a different path to follow. No two experiences are similar; everyone processes information and experiences things differently. Traveling breeds an experience which can only be unique to you and you alone.
5. Live Now: How familiar are you with the phrase "You Only Live Once"? Also, do you know the popular Nigerian slang, "try to enjoy life, problem no dey finish"? It simply means to live in the moment. Problems and issues will always arise, so do what you want regardless, enjoy life, and live purposefully. Hence, if you want to go on that trip, or stay up all night and watch a series, who’s going to stop you? It’s your time to shine—learn to enjoy each moment, find love, make every opportunity count, and build great memories.
6. Gain some new friends: It is often said that one does not need to be related by blood to be described as family. Sometimes, we meet people who go above and beyond for us. At first, they become friends, and later they become a huge part of our lives. In fact, if you are a solo traveler, they become your family and your go-to people. They become the ones you cry to for help, the ones you celebrate with or the ones who help you navigate through your journey. Here in Sweden, it is often said that once you have a Swedish friend, you have a friend/family for life. They will help you, stand by you, and support you in all things good and legal. That’s how much they appreciate friendship.
7. Traveling is educational: Finally, and most importantly, this basically sums up traveling. In every point stated above, you learn one thing or the other, which one can attribute to education. Travel provides a great opportunity to learn many new and diverse things. You do not only learn about new places; you learn about everything else different from what you have been exposed to.
Though traveling does not come cheap, one can take information from the internet, family or friends, or even a travel consultant, and work around your budget. Start by saving some money each month. Do a little research, pack a bag, or contact travel agencies. You can go on group tours and pay less. You can also start by visiting some tourist and recreational places or resorts around your city, state, or country and then work your way to the top of your bucket list. Thus, to sum up my 7 points, I am going to leave you with my top three quotes on travel. "Take only memories, leave only footprints", says Chief Seattle; "Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations", says Zig Ziglar; and finally, this from Loazi; "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".