Travel can be many things: an escape, a chance to unwind and forget about deadlines for a few days, or the opportunity to explore a new place. But travel can also play a big role in boosting your self-esteem. So the next time you book a trip, consider that packing a bag and hopping on a plane can have benefits that reach far beyond Instagram-worthy selfies and cool souvenirs. Here are six ways travel can kick-start your confidence.
1. Travel forces you outside your comfort zone
Ah, comfort zones. They’re just so…comfortable. But they can also be highly restricting, keeping us trapped in a pre-conceived notion of who we are and what we’re capable of. Travel can swiftly change all that and bring about a fresh, more positive perspective. When we travel, the walls around us expand and our world gets bigger. The way we see things shifts because all of a sudden we’re faced with new people, ideas, and ways of doing things. The more you’re faced with the unknown, the more you have to adapt, which in turn boosts your confidence in ways you might never have thought possible.
2. Travel requires flexibility
Being ready for anything requires a certain amount of chutzpah that not everyone is able to tap into. The unexpected twists and turns of travel require you to be on your toes and take life as it comes, rather than relying on fixed routines. The more flexible you can be, the more open you become to the unknown—a pretty significant self-esteem booster.
3. Travel means making decisions
If there’s one thing a large sect of the human population loathes, it’s making decisions. How many times have you been in a situation where you’ve uttered the words, “no, you decide” or “it’s up to you”? While give and take is important, so is having the confidence to own up to what you truly desire. Travel, especially solo travel, puts you in situations where you need to dig deep to figure out what feels right. Do you want to stay or go, sleep here or there, go east or west? Developing the ability to confidently make decisions isn’t easy for everyone, but travel can help you get there.
4. Travel lets you learn more about yourself
Genuine self-esteem comes from knowing who you are and what you want, but often, day-to-day life gets in the way of the discovery process. In essence, we stop learning about ourselves when routine takes over. Enter travel—the great savior of the self and the spirit. Being in new places, meeting new people, and having new experiences all foster growth and help you learn more about yourself, a process which leads to a stronger, healthier self-esteem.
5. Travel removes limits you put on yourself
We all put limits on ourselves: “I can’t do that,” “I would never eat that,” “I’m just not that type of person.” Some of these statements might be true, but you’ll never know about the others unless you put them to the test. Limiting yourself can hinder your self-esteem, but travel lets you challenge yourself and your beliefs about who you are and what you can do. Whether you strike up a fast friendship despite believing yourself to be painfully shy, or navigate a new city alone despite thinking you could never travel without a partner, the more you knock over long-held beliefs, the more confident you can become.
6. Travel lightens your emotional baggage
Emotional baggage is heavier than you think and whether we’re aware of it or not, most of us heave at least some of it around on a daily basis. Break-ups, grudges against family members, resentments over jobs lost or promotions that never materialized can all weigh us down and keep us stuck. This feeling of being stuck limits our thinking and causes us to repeat old mistakes. Travel shifts your perspective almost immediately. All of a sudden you’re no longer wondering about what was, because you’re right there in the moment. Residing in the present moment can be tough, but travel helps spur on the process. And the more you can stay in the moment, the better you’ll feel about yourself and your place in the world.
© 2016 AFAR Media