I love this quote by Italian poet Cesare Pavese about travel: “It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childhood wonder.”
No matter where you go, stepping into an unfamiliar world opens up emotions that are hard to describe. Travelers agree: each experience outside your comfort zone changes you. After returning home from a new experience, daily routines become ordinary. You’re different. TV commercials you’ve seen a million times about lands abroad trigger the memory of a fragrant scent or foreign pleasure. The sight and sound of someone speaking another language now turns your head and makes you smile. Instead of feeling indifferent, you find yourself wanting to know more about unfamiliar attire, customs, or gestures that clearly originate from afar.
Worldly experts share reasons why travel makes one a happier person, and topping the list is increased well-being. Whether an adventure is local, regional, or international, new experiences promote self-confidence that grows with each step out of life’s normal routine. Confidence breeds a happy person – someone who’s not afraid to learn something new about a strange land, or trust someone enough to find their way on foreign soil. That confidence is enhanced when, due to unforeseen circumstances, you’re forced to deal with situations on the spot (and finding out there is a solution to anything, anywhere), and you come out with yet another notch of courage.
You may not speak another language, you could have a fear of flying, or you may believe you don’t have the means to travel. So, take small steps out of your well-balanced arena and watch your happy countenance grow each time you return home.
Most of my travels abroad were the result of entertaining crowds around the world, one performance at a time. Our producer taught us well with guidance I still rely on during unfamiliar situations when she said, “You may not speak the same language, but everyone understands a smile.” Travel doesn’t change you – it’s sharing hearts that fills your soul.
So, each time you meet someone new and the sound of their voice and nature of their beautiful accent reveals their homeland is far from yours, let the friendship begin, for nothing is as poetic as hearing someone’s story and seeing them smile at the opportunity to share their roots with you.
Abella Carroll is a freelance writer