8 Incredible Ways Travel Can Transform Your Life

Traveling abroad can expand your mind and benefit your life in many ways. Here are 8 compelling reasons to hit the road.

There’s no greater thrill than being a stranger in a strange land. To embark on an international adventure and find yourself immersed in a completely different culture is an opportunity for growth surpassed by few other opportunities. Though some may find the prospect of cultural and communication challenges daunting, the scientific benefits of foreign travel far outweigh any potential inconveniences. Here’s eight (of way too many) reasons why it's actually good for you to grab your passport and head for the border.

1. It ignites a passion for lifelong learning.

Travel boosts your potential to learn — this isn’t breaking news, but it’s still worth noting. When the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad) conducted the largest known survey of study abroad alumni, nearly 90 percent of students surveyed said their experiences abroad had an influence over their subsequent educational experiences. More than 80 percent of students surveyed reported a renewed commitment to their continued education. Not only that, but more than 52 percent of respondents indicated they had achieved a postgraduate degree, which is particularly astounding given that only 9 percent of U.S. Americans obtained graduate degrees as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau at the time.

2. It makes you a better negotiator.

Immersion in a foreign culture awakens you to the different ways people in that culture think about life, which boosts your ability to communicate and negotiate. In one study, master of business administration (MBA) students at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University assumed the roles of a buyer and seller of a gas station and engaged in particularly difficult mock negotiation scenario. Wouldn’t you know it, those with experience living abroad were more likely to get creative and reach a deal that satisfied both parties' interests.

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3. It can make you more appealing on the job market.

Multicultural immersion can eventually lead to more job success. One study, conducted during an international 10-month MBA program, found that the number of job offers students received when the program could be predicted by the amount they were able to adapt and engage with other cultures. Simply put: Those students who were more comfortable and adept at integrating multiple perspectives and possibilities had more professional opportunities open to them. What an incentive to pursue your wanderlust!

4. It inspires you to think outside the box.

Breaking away from your routine and landing in a brand-new place can do wonders to boost your problem-solving abilities. A 2014 article in The Atlantic about creativity cites a 2010 study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, proving that living in and adapting to foreign cultures — or multicultural learning — facilitates the ability to solve problems in multiple ways. It does this because it lends an increased awareness of underlying connections and associations, which in turn helps overcome functional fixedness, or routines and ruts.

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5. It boosts creativity.

Need a lightbulb moment? Heading for the hills might help facilitate a creative breakthrough. Research published in the Academy of Management Journal revealed that time spent in another country can actually make you more creative. After examining the creative output of creative directors in the fashion industry, those who had lived and worked in other countries produced more consistently creative fashion lines than those whose who had not.

6. Vacations boost productivity.

Keeping your nose to the grindstone can actually work against you in the long run, according to a comprehensive survey conducted by Project Time Off. Though things are just starting to improve, too few Americans use up all their vacation time. In fact, as many as 38 percent of employees forsake vacation days because they want to be seen as “work martyrs” by their bosses. Thing is, that stance actually works against them. Self-proclaimed work martyrs were less likely (by 79 percent to 84 percent!) to receive a raise or bonus in three years. All the more reason to fly away on occasion!

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7. It promotes confidence and quells neuroticism.

It’s not easy to get by in a land where you don’t speak the language and you don’t really know where you’re going. But figuring it all out — and doing it successfully — can give you a huge confidence boost you’ll carry with you well after your passport is stamped back in your home country. A 2013 study examined university students to gauge the impact of “international mobility,” or “sojourning,” on personality and socialization. They found sojourning to be “associated with increases in openness and agreeableness and a decrease in neuroticism.” Relief from anxiety and neurosis can lead to increased confidence and focus.

8. It makes you more outgoing.

A change of environment can bring you out of yourself — even make you more outgoing! According to a study in the Journal of Personality, personality tests were administered to a group of German university students, half of which were preparing to study abroad. When the travelers returned, repeat tests revealed the travelers were found to be more extroverted and social than the nontravelers. Need more convincing? Research from the University of Southampton found that outgoing people are happier later in life.

What Do YOU Think?

Have you found traveling abroad to make you more outgoing? Has it led to better job opportunities? Or has it impacted your creativity? Leave us a comment below and let us know how traveling abroad has changed your life for the better!

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