Travel and Personal Growth

Set in the 1960s, the new Pan Am ABC drama series brings to life, the glamour of air travels, beautiful air stewardesses, and the possibilities of adventures and explorations of the big wide world we live in. My husband and I took one of the last flights on Pan Am in September 1991 from JFK Airport to San Francisco before it collapsed and closed on December 4th 1991.

Airlines come and go, Pan Am and Trans World Airlines are long gone…but we are still traveling. Air travel today is so different from yester years. For those who have traveled before 2001…air travel will never be the same.

Today, more than ever, even with the economic downturn, airports are still full of passengers and cruise ships are sold out…we are still traveling…

The U.S. Travel Association has interesting statistics about the tourism industry. Every minute in the U.S., $1.4 million is spent in the travel industry and the top 5 growth markets for visitors in the next few years are from the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and South Korea with the Chinese taking the lead.

1 out of 9 jobs in the U.S. depends on tourism and by 2020, the country plans to create 1.3 million jobs by increasing visitors to the United States. That will be one of the ways to have economic stimulus.

Apart from shopping, dining, city sightseeing, visiting historical sites and amusement/theme parks (those are main reasons why tourists come to the U.S.) – why do we travel?

I think travel experiences contribute to our personal growth. Let’s take a look at it:

According to an article in selfgrowth.com personal growth or self-improvement refers to self-guided improvement-economically, intellectually, or emotionally-most frequently with a substantial psychological or spiritual basis.

Here are 5 different areas of our lives that have changed because of travel experiences:

Travel improves our palette: Other than rice, beans and chicken, travel takes us to eateries that are out of this world. For some non-adventurous eaters, travel will make us move out from our usual staples of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

There are the crepes in Paris for lunch. My kids had no clue about the different types of crepes…all they knew were the ones they get from the International House of Pancakes. After a trip to Paris, they learned to make savory crepes au jambon et fromage and the sweet version crepes au chocolat with Nutella spread.

It also helps them add a variety to their food adventure and try new things. Most cultures appreciate guests to consume food served. It is a sign of impoliteness to reject food and to not eat it.

Travel helps us respect foods of all cultures.

Travel improves our appreciation of diversity in religion and culture: Before we travel, all information was from books and internet. Travel takes us to places that have different religions. For example, Malaysia is a Muslim country. At about 5 in the morning, every morning, the loudspeaker started broadcasting morning prayers to the neighborhood without fail and 4 more times throughout the day. You see most Muslim women having head coverings and wearing long skirts and long shirts to cover their body.

It helps us accept differences of cultures and religions…there are the Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus all living together in the same neighborhood. Travel helps us appreciate the freedom of worship in the United States.

Travel improves our language skills and helps us learn a new language: According to Biblica.com the bible has been translated to 2,287 languages. There are thousands of languages and dialects worldwide. Imagine what we can learn through traveling. Most Europeans speak more than one language.

Travel experiences in different countries allowed my children to hear English spoken in different accents…but they are all speaking the English language. They are different in Singapore, Australia, England and even Tennessee.

Having written and spoken knowledge of more than one language gives us more advantages in the business world and more job options.

Travel improves our understanding of people around the world: The world is created differently. Some of us live in arid lands with hardly any vegetation, some in the deltas surrounded by rice fields and some are in big metropolis like Sao Paulo or New York City. With diverse lands come diverse economic differences…some live in a modern developed land and some are still using a family motorcycle with 5 family members on it.

Traveling to Managua, Nicaragua, helped my daughter understand the needs outside of her comfort zone. Going to the deep eco resort of Northern Costa Rica helped me appreciate the street lights in the US.

We are creatures of habits…what we are not exposed to, we will not yearn for or feel at a lost. For example, to a Costa Rican living in non-street lights…walking in the dark is normal. They will not feel insecure in the dark. They are used to the environment. But one like me, who is used to street lights, did not feel comfortable walking in the dark.

Travel improves our understanding of our earthly possessions: When we see that many have little to live with, we understand the amount that we possess. Travel has led me to live a non-cluttered lifestyle and appreciate minimal possessions.

After all, we either choose to buy more stuff or choose to have the money to travel. The choices in life. For us, we chose travel experience as part of our personal growth and education for our children.