View from Finca Neblinas del Bosque, Miraflor, Nicaragua near Esteli. 
“Travel is not a reward for work, 
it is education for living.” 

This was a meme I saw on Facebook a few months ago.

It was layered over the top of a nice picture of a guy standing on the banks at a bend in a river that cuts through wooded mountains. Scenic, right?

I don’t get into a lot of memes but THIS one, I enjoyed and I thought it was very thoughtful as well as thought-provoking. It’s got me writing about it, so it must be. The easiest analogy that I can think of that explains my reasoning is a comparison to READING. As with travel, not everyone is a reader. However, I know that no one will say to me that their life is just fine having never learned to read. You read every day even if its just the street signs as you drive, the menu at your restaurant, or the prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet to make sure you’re taking the right one. The question is whether or not what you read is meaningful, inspires you, and is nurturing.

A quick Google search for “benefits of reading” gave me a few articles that basically agreed on 8 primary benefits. Now, in no way am I suggesting I have mastered all of these. I’m still learning! But, let me relate them to travel and how I think I have benefited from hitting the road. Maybe you can relate, as well.

Miraflor, Nicaragua near Esteli. 

Mental Stimulation/Improved Focus 

This was probably the first immediate benefit I can recall. Traveling abroad brought my focus front and center. How many times have you driven to work and back home and don’t even remember the drive? All your senses become immediately engaged when the different smells and sights catch your attention. You instinctively become more aware.

Stress Reduction 

Traveling, by nature helps promote a sense of well-being. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own element for a bit of a perspective change. Nature walks can have the exact same effect but they don’t last as long. Traveling helps me take my mind off negative circumstances by changing how I view those circumstances which have not really changed at all… only my perspective of them has been altered. Problems may still be there when you get back but you are much more refreshed and replenished to deal with them.

Knowledge and Education  

Again, this is primarily about perspective, and a little bit more. You can only learn so much in a book about riding a bike. And if you ever involve yourself in a conversation or try to form an opinion about a group of people that you have never met, I think you should really hold your thoughts to yourself. Learning about a culture first-hand is the best thing you can do. Talk to them. Finding solutions is best done when you know both sides of the story. Not only that, I get an expansion on my world history, geography, culture, and the local landscape.

Members, Black Souls Biker Group of Esteli, Nicaragua photographed in Somoto

Increased Empathy 

Empathy – noun – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
synonyms: affinity with, rapport with, sympathy with, understanding of, sensitivity toward, sensibility to, identification with, awareness of, fellowship with, fellow feeling for, like-mindedness 

Is there ever a situation where too much empathy is a problem? You can feel how you want about your neighbor or other people, but one specific potential benefit of travel I would hope everyone could take advantage of is this one. Getting to know a culture or somebody with first-hand knowledge and understanding is a blessing. You are afforded the opportunity to see that their dreams, aspirations, problems, and hardships might not so different than your own. Taking an opportunity to see and experience things for yourself instead of depending on second-hand or biased information can offer you a truth that may not otherwise be available to you. At least this way, you KNOW!

Here are a few more benefits that were listed:

  • Stronger Analytical Thinking 
  • Tranquility and Better Sleep 
  • Vocabulary Expansion
  • Entertainment 
Ranch at Night near Somoto, Nicaragua

For any of this to stick, Travel has to be a way of life. Your education continues for the rest of your days. So KEEP Traveling! VACATIONS are a reward for work. Maybe I get too much into semantics here, but I differentiate Vacation from Travel. Going to Cancun to an all-inclusive resort for a week and never leaving said resort is NOT travel. That’s a vacation no different from Disneyland. Traveling, on the other hand, is a state of mind that is more about a life experience that brings you to another land and or people. It blesses and changes you, and hopefully, you have the opportunity to share inspiration and knowledge in like manner where ever you go.