If you've ever come back from an amazing vacation and thought about overhauling the entire way you live your life, you're not alone. While naysayers may insist that the effects are temporary and you're just honeymooning from your vacation, there is evidence to suggest that real changes can come about from the experience.
In 2013, German researchers investigated the psychological effects of traveling. They utilized a group of German students, half of whom were preparing to study abroad in a foreign country; the other half were planning to stay at their home university. The students were all given personality tests to establish a baseline, and the tests were repeated at the end of the semester.
Their results, which were published in the Journal of Personality, found that traveling does alter your personality for the better in five overarching domains: emotions, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to new experiences. This means that after you head out for a vacation, you can reasonably expect the following things to take place:
1. You'll become more spontaneous.
Anyone who has traveled can attest that things don't always go according to plan. Weather can derail even the most thoughtful itinerary, forcing you to find new activities. The best part is that these new ideas most likely won't be utter disasters, and you might even have fun with an experience that you hadn't planned ahead of time.
After being forced into being flexible a few times, you'll see that it can actually be kind of fun to take a random adventure, and it will likely inspire you to be more spontaneous in the future.
2. You'll be less judgmental of others.
People often don't like what they don't understand, and so traveling and becoming exposed to different cultures is a good way to start breaking down some of that xenophobia (dislike of people different from oneself).
As Mark Twain once said: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
When you travel, try to venture out away from tourist destinations and experience the culture of those who live there. It'll be worth every moment.
3. You'll be better able to think on your feet.
Traveling typically comes with difficulties, and you will learn how to adapt in order to make it work. Additionally, by learning how people in different cultures deal with various problems, it can actually make you a better problem-solver as well.
4. You will be more outgoing.
Traveling invariably leads to your needing to talk to more people — be it flight attendants, the hotel concierge, or a taxi driver in a foreign country. As you get more adept at dealing with strangers, it will become easier to make conversation.
Of course, if you're a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, this won't completely change your need for alone time. It will, however, make your social interactions a bit more fun and less draining.
5. Your relationships will become more meaningful.
Traveling exposes you to more — and more kinds — of people than you would typically get to know in your everyday life. This will help you prioritize the relationships that mean the most to you, and maybe let go of that friend who never returns your calls.
6. You won't sweat the small stuff anymore.
Once you start to see how big the world is and get a first-hand look at how other people live and what they've overcome, the small problems in your own life will feel minuscule in comparison. Stuck in traffic? Meh. Your friend is running a bit late to meet you for dinner? Not that bad. Once your eyes have been opened and you get a better sense of what matters and what doesn't, you won't get so bogged down in little annoyances.
7. You'll be more optimistic.
When you're stuck in a rut — same job, same house, same routine — traveling can be a welcome break. It's freeing to be able to take matters into your own hands and change your circumstances.
Additionally, when you see all that there is in this world, it will leave you with a sense of hope as you think of what could be. While it's important to be realistic, a healthy dose of optimism never hurt anyone.
8. Your creativity will get a boost.
When you travel, you immerse yourself in new landscapes, architecture, and works of art. As they seep into your consciousness, it'll allow you to take new creative approaches in your own life, whether it comes to gardening, decorating your house, or taking on new challenges in the workplace.
9. Your comfort zone will grow exponentially.
We all have little phobias and neuroses that we experience in our daily lives, and it is possible to overcome them. In the same way that travel makes you more outgoing by forcing you into conversations and human interactions, traveling can help expose you to things that you might normally have an aversion to, such as large crowds, public transportation, unusual cuisine, or even certain animals and insects found in nature.
In time, you'll feel more at ease in a wider range of scenarios and be ready to take on new challenges.
10. You'll be more interesting.
This is where the new experiences, new outlooks, and more daring personality all start to come together. Thanks to your travels, you'll have more compelling things to talk about and a different perspective on various situations that will make your opinions much more interesting to listen to.
Rather than getting stuck in a rut talking about the same old day-to-day things, you'll be able to to recall stories from your travel, and look like Indiana Jones compared to your friends who just sat at home instead of going out and exploring the world.