Why Do People Travel? 7 Ways the World Will Change Your Perspective

How traveling can change your perspective and turn your entire world upside down.
Rocking Maui Jim Koko Head's at the Golden Gate Bridge

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The problem with traveling is that, once you stop, you’re a better, wiser person.

I know—it sounds counterintuitive, but the fact is that you’ll have seen things that many people either won’t believe or won’t be able to relate to.

It can be incredibly frustrating.

Coming home is always bittersweet. It’s great to be back, but it’s also a jarring experience to be met with all the prejudices and misconceptions that you had stripped away from you on your travels.

Do you remember how you felt before you set off? Travel seemed so overwhelming. All those new places, all those strangers speaking a different language. How could you possibly manage when everything around you was so alien? It seemed like an impossible challenge.

Right until you went and did it. And then everything changed.

Perspectives shift, and you start to see the world in a totally new light.

With the help of Maui Jim sunglasses, the experts in changing people’s’ view on the world, I’m showcasing seven ways that travel will permanently change the way you see the world.

1. You Learn What Your Real Priorities Are

Life is a series of choices, and a lot of the time, we make those choices blindly.

Think of the last time you spent an hour scrolling aimlessly down your Facebook feed. Did you plan to do that, or did it just sort of happen? How many times have you said “I’d love to, but I don’t have the time” – and then found yourself watching something utterly terrible on TV, or spent hours playing a lackluster game on your Mac, PS4 or phone?

Travel forces you to make these choices consciously. Every dollar is given a role. Every spare minute can be spent on experiences that will stay in your mind forever. The tiny frustrations of modern life shrink in importance until you just can’t believe that stuff used to annoy you. Your awareness of everything is heightened—and that includes that voice deep inside you that’s saying what you really want out of life.

If you want to see your everyday choices in a different light, try this: Instead of saying “I don’t have the time,” say “it’s not a priority for me”—and reflect on it.

2. You Realize How Little You Actually Need

Travel also teaches you the true value of material possessions, aka. “Stuff”.

When you have to carry every single item you own, you quickly learn what stuff you can do without. We all need very little to survive (starting with food, water, shelter, and a way to sustain all three) and beyond that, a lot of modern possessions are non-essential and therefore disposable.

It’s also a fact that at least half of the things we pack when we travel can be found at our destination, sometimes a lot cheaper than at home.

I now take a much simpler approach to the way I pack my bags. If your life feels cluttered with stuff, use this post at Zen Habits to take an inventory of your possessions, and try letting go of the things you don’t really want or need.

[quote]Half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need.” —Richard E. Byrd[/quote]

Maui Jim Koko Head’s keep my perspective sharp

3. The News Exaggerates, But Travel Shows Reality

The most extreme news travels the furthest. You never hear about the 99.9% of people having a normal day – you hear about the 0.1% who definitely aren’t.

When was the last time you clicked on a news story that said, “Today absolutely nothing frightening or dangerous happened?”

Bad, scary news gets the most clicks. News that generates outrage is the most popular on social media. The news seduces us into feeling pessimistic and helpless because that’s what generates the most reaction in audiences—and that’s ruining our ability to see what the rest of the world is really like.

[quote]If you only learned about other countries from the news, you’d think the world was a horrible place. —Gary Arndt[/quote]

In fact, the world is a mixture of excitingly new and reassuringly ordinary. You’ll love it.

Thumbs up! The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt.
Thumbs up!

4. You Learn That People Are Inherently GOOD

By default, foreign people are good, in the sense that you are good.

Almost everyone you will meet on your travels is concerned with the same things you are—how to keep themselves and their families clothed, fed and safe while building a happy, fulfilling life for themselves along the way.

They don’t want to make enemies—they want new friends. They don’t want your fear or anger—they want your respect. They’ll also be intensely curious about what you’re doing, and will want to hear all your stories (right after you ask them about theirs because that’s what adventurous, open-minded travelers do.)

Yes, we’re different, but we’re also very much the same. There is no separation. We’re all in this together.

Sapa, Vietnam
Trekking in Sapa, northern Vietnam

5. You Discover How Big And Complex The World Really Is

If you’re from the United States, it’s easy to think your part of the continent is the biggest on earth. Maybe you’ve taken a road-trip from coast to coast, from D.C. to San Francisco, and it blew your mind that it took five days of driving eight hours a day.

Just wait until you set foot in Africa, which is bigger than the States, India, China and most of Europe combined.

The world is bigger than your brain can handle, and you won’t believe it until you’ve seen it for yourself. It’s also filled with more multicultural complexity than you’ve ever handled at home – and that is scientifically proven to be awesome for your brain.

You'll see things a little differently from up here...
You’ll see things a little differently from up here…

6. Seeing the World Makes You More Humble

You’ll feel it the first time a stranger takes you into his or her home and treats you like family. (This lady, motorcycling solo across Iran, felt it every time she stopped.)

You feel it when you realize nobody’s speaking English.

You’ll feel it when you realize the people you meet are doing absolutely fine without anyone else’s help, and when they’re doing something quicker and more efficiently than you ever learned at home.

You feel it when you have no idea what to do next, and there’s no shortage of complete strangers willing to help.

[quote]Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. —Gustave Flaubert[/quote]

Unconsciously or not, we all go out into the world with a set of prejudices about what we’re going to see—and the world replaces them with empathy, humbleness, and the realization of how little we really know.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China
Dwarfed by the vertical rock face of Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan Province, China

7. The Way You See the World is Always a Choice

Travel is a free education in the way the real world works – but it also teaches you how to see things differently.

It’s not naive to see the best in people before they confirm it for you. It’s not impractical to want to see the greatest sights on earth or take part in its most exciting experiences. It’s not crazy to see uncertainty and change as more attractive than comfort and stability (in fact, change is one of the greatest benefits travel can bestow, because, without change, nothing grows).

Travel is about wanting to see everything better, and then going and doing something about it.

Enjoy the View with Maui Jim
Enjoying the View with Maui Jim

Enjoy the View with Maui Jim

After all these changes take place within, the way you see the world changes. And that’s exactly what Maui Jim is all about—enhancing your view, no matter where in the world you happen to be.

If you’re used to everyday sunglasses washing out all the color, and you accept that as an unavoidable side-effect of protecting your eyes, Maui Jim sunglasses are a revelation. Their lenses keep everything crisp, sharp and remarkably true to life, no matter how darkly-tinted your lenses are.

Curious for more? Here’s a bit more of what you can expect from Maui Jim:

  • Maui Jim’s patented UV and glare protection technology, PolarizedPlus2, blocks 100% of UV, keeping your eyes safe and your gaze clear. The polarized lenses also block more than 99% of glare, preventing eye-strain and long-term damage to your vision.
  • They look fantastic, with a huge range of styles to choose from.
  • They’re even available with a prescription!

How has travel changed the way you see the world? Let us know in the comments below!

READ NEXT: My 65 Best Travel Tips

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.

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4 Responses

  1. Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. Very Beautiful writing. I certainly love this website. Thanks!

  2. Read about the way you pack your bags. Wow, you travel heavy Jeremy. I once did that and now just have one change of clothes (wear one, wash one), plus my travel writing kit (which takes up a lot of room and I’m still trimming down). A small 35L backpack and I have extra room. Buying stuff once there can work out pretty good. sometimes you find a real bargain and drop an item you left home with.

    Staying somewhere for a couple of months or so changes things too. It opens your eyes, like you say, to that culture and the people, even made some friends that way and still in contact with them. The people side of things I like best usually, outside the tourist area’s are best on that score.

    About the only thing the News tells me is whether or not I can expect delays or destruction when I arrive (unless a revolution happens while you’re airborne).

    Bottom line though is it makes me appreciate things better, generally. I realize just how little I know and not a few times I’ve felt very small in it all.

    1. Love your insight, Ted! Remember, I’ve gotta carry my office and camera gear with me too 😉

  3. Loved your post! Cool Photos!!
    This is first time I am visiting your website and I find this post very very useful thanks for giving such a great information..

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