Travel Changes Who You Are

My second solo trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer in the South of France in 2009 not only helped solidify new friendships, but gave me alone time to make important life decisions ... some of which are still impacting who I am today.

When you’re a travel junkie like I am, much of your precious ‘down time’ is consumed with keeping up with what’s new – and what’s interesting – when it comes to getting around this fascinating world of ours. But I’m not just looking for the latest low airfare or discount hotel rate, as I don’t have either the vacation time or spare cash to leave town as often as I’d like. No, what’s much more important to me is where travel takes you within your mind – and how it impacts the very core of your being.

That’s why I can’t stop thinking about a recent feature article posted by BootsnAll: One-Stop Indie Travel Guide. The website’s self-described purpose is to “help folks understand themselves and others by leaving home to experience the world firsthand.” Why, you ask? The site’s founders believe “folks that do indie travel are more tolerant, understand that we are more alike than we are different, and are happier for having explored the world.” The site even publishes its own ‘manifesto‘ about traveling thoughtfully.

The article I read, Does Travel Make You a Better Person?, isn’t, as writer Jennifer Miller says, an arrogant value judgment claiming that those who hit the road (and rails and skies) are somehow superior. But I love what she does claim. She writes, “What I am saying is that we are shaped by our experiences, and travel changes us. It changes us on an individual and very personal level, in ways that bleed over into every aspect of how we live our lives. Or at least it can, if we let it. It’s not that travel somehow magically improves on everyone who strikes out, it’s that travel affects an individual, and then that individual, forever changed, interacts differently, with herself, with friends, with family, and in the market place. Travel takes what you had to offer… and builds on it, molds it, and shapes you in the process. You return, not better than anyone else, but a better version of yourself.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

Every trip, whether I’ve traveled 100 miles from home or to the other side of the world, has helped shape the person I’ve become. It influences my thought process at the office; where I shop for books and why I’m willing to pay a bit more to support my independent neighborhood bookseller; why I prefer living car-free and love public transportation. I’m thrilled that Jennifer Miller poses such thoughtful questions in her piece. Take a look, and think about the traveler in you. How has it helped shape the person you’ve become, long after you’ve returned home?

Maureen_Jenkins

About Maureen Jenkins

Maureen Jenkins is a food/travel writer and communications professional who's visited nearly 35 countries and territories, lived in Florence, Italy, and recently spent a year living in a charming village near Paris, France. The self-proclaimed 'urban travel girl' talks travel, food and wine – abroad and in Chicago – in "TCW Travel Connection.” Read more of her thoughts on living globally at UrbanTravelGirl.com.