5 Ways Travel Has Made Me More Adventurous

There are many reasons that people choose to travel. To explore new places, meet new people, try new foods… The exact motivations may be varied, but, whether we realize it or not, we all travel for one basic reason: to better ourselves in some way. Whether that betterment comes in the form of increased cultural awareness or just a nice tan, it’s always there just the same.

Once upon a time, back when travel was not something accessible to most people, the wealthy and elite young men of Britain would take off around Europe for a year or two as part of an educational rite of passage. This trip — often referred to as the “Grand Tour” — usually involved a tutor and visits to all of the culturally and historically significant places in Europe. This was back in the 1700s, folks, before the advent of modern transportation, tourist services, and Lonely Planet guidebooks.

And yet the value of travel was recognized even then.

The premise of the Grand Tour is still alive today, as evidenced by gap year travelers, students studying abroad, and even backpackers on extended round-the-world trips. And, because the price and style of travel has changed so much between the 1700s and now, people travel in many different ways and to many other places besides.

The reason behind all of it, however, remains startlingly the same. We travel to learn; to share; to experience; to challenge ourselves. We travel, essentially, because we are in search of some form of change.

When trying to sum up the ways in which travel has significantly changed me, I kept coming back to one point:

Travel has made me more adventurous.

And we’re not just talking about bungy jumping or polar plunging, either (though I’ve done those things, too). I’m talking about broader ways traveling around the world has made me more adventurous in all aspects of my life.

When it comes to food

Growing up, I was quite a picky eater. I didn’t like sauce on my pasta or anything other than cheese on my pizza. I wouldn’t try strange vegetables, and I wouldn’t even drink anything that didn’t look familiar. I did branch out with my eating habits as I got older, but I really didn’t start getting interested in food until I started traveling. Whereas even in college I would never dream of ordering Chinese food or going out for a curry, today I’m much more likely to choose to eat foreign foods when given the option — especially when I’m traveling.

I’ve eaten everything from puffin to seaweed and drank things from Brennivin to Ayran on my travels. And becoming a more adventurous eater abroad has also made me a more adventurous one at home. I’m now the first person to suggest to friends that we check out the new Greek or Middle-Eastern place in town, or the first to volunteer to give a strange concoction a taste.

When it comes to being spontaneous

I was raised to follow the rules. With a heavy conscious, a penchant for good grades, and a cop for a father, the rules were always important to me. But, when you follow the rules to the letter all the time, you often leave little room for spontaneity. I’ve said before that studying abroad in New Zealand helped me become a more laid-back person. And it definitely did. But travel in general has made me a more positive and relaxed person, too — and also a much more spontaneous one.

When you travel frequently, you begin to appreciate the beauty of the unexpected. You start realizing that things are largely outside of your control, so you stop planning so much and just go with the flow. Not only has this made me a happier person overall, but my new-found spontaneity has also led to some of my most exciting travel stories. If I hadn’t loosened up and become more open to adventure, I never would have kissed that boy in a bar or gone to the Olympics or jumped into a river in Scotland on New Year’s Day. And what a shame that would have been.

When it comes to relationships

Traveling overall has given me a lot of confidence in myself. Especially as a solo traveler, I often find myself in situations where I am totally at my own mercy. I alone can decide my fate and make or break my travel experience. So I’ve learned how to adapt to challenges and solve problems on my own. And the result has been a lot of empowerment.

This of course has spilled over into the social part of my life, influencing all of my relationships. I am now more comfortable being the one to strike up a conversation or invite someone out for a drink or to ask to tag along on an adventure. I’m just more comfortable being ME in relationships now. And I’m not just talking about romantic-type relationships, either (though the confidence has certainly changed those, too). ALL of my relationships — with guys, friends, family members — have been impacted by me becoming a tad bit more adventurous.

When it comes to being alone

In high school, I would have been mortified at the thought of going to a move alone or eating dinner by myself at a restaurant. These days, however, I don’t even think twice. Gaining confidence, curiosity, and a greater sense of adventure has made me perfectly content with tackling things on my own. Whether it’s a whitewater rafting tour in Slovenia or a meal out in Wellington, I’m perfectly fine going it alone if no one else is around to share the experience with.

This relates back to the increased confidence in general, but traveling solo has also just made me better at being alone and enjoying my own company. It’s true what they say, you know — being alone does not necessarily equal being lonely.

When it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone

The last item on this list really relates back to all the others. It is practically impossible to change or better yourself if you’re unwilling to step out of the comfortable bubble that usually surrounds you in life. It’s not easy to force yourself out, but, once you do, the possibilities are endless.

The more I travel, the more willing I am to challenge myself. Some of the challenges (like sleeping in a jungle or trying a new food) are just baby steps, while others (quitting my job or planning a big solo trip) are much more significant. All of them, though, push me outside of my comfort zone and help me grow; help me better myself as a person.

 

All of those young British men going on their Grand Tours back in the 18th century may have been traveling vastly differently than I travel today. But, at the end of the day, they probably learned many of the same lessons about life as I have. Ultimately, we’re all traveling in search of the same things. Change. Clarity. Knowledge.

And, of course, adventure.

Has traveling made YOU more adventurous?

 

48 Comments

  • Im grateful that Ive always had an adventurous spirit… travel hasnt changed me in that sense; but I am more comfortable in my own skin because of it.
    Ian [EagerExistence] recently posted..Setting SMART Goals

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I think I’ve always been a bit adventurous… but traveling has given me the confidence to let that part of me come out more often!

  • I love this post since I find myself agreeing to every single thing written.

    Travel helps you develop, become a more open minded human being, and lets you experience things totally different to home.

    Perfect article!
    Olivia – young on the road recently posted..Why You Should Visit Uppsala, Sweden

  • I feel the same about all of these except one. Being alone… well before I traveled solo, I was used to doing things alone. I went to concerts, movies, anything I wanted to. And that’s what made me realize I could travel alone too. After so much time alone on the road, I realized I do want to travel with others again.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Photo Essay: The Women’s Bridge of Buenos Aires

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yeah I can understand that, too. There are definitely times when I think I’d like to have someone to travel with. But then other times I still really really love traveling alone.

  • Michelle says:

    Traveling has helped me become less spontaneous, more focused, and more aware. Even as a teenager, I would randomly hop a train to Baltimore for a baseball game or drive to Atlanta for the day for no real reason. Nothing bad ever happened but I did get end up in some sketchy situations. I am still spontaneous, but I am much more aware of where I go and I usually scout things out ahead of time. And I usually tell somewhere where I am going which hasn’t always been the case.
    Michelle recently posted..Bathing–in public

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Interesting! Then again, I was never very spontaneous before, and it sounds like maybe you were a little TOO spontaneous! Either way, it seems like traveling has definitely done us both some favors.

  • kami says:

    I agree with every single word you wrote as I feel exactly the same about traveling. It also has taught be being braver, being able to stand for my rights or being able to talk easily to almost every single person around, no matter if it’s only about the weather or if it’s a deeper conversation – I can get along with almost everyone, I’m not afraid of people. And thanks to the solo travel I know I often don’t need people to help me, I can very well depend on myself and it works fine too.
    kami recently posted..what annoyed me in China

  • I love posts like this. Travel has made so many of us more adventurous. When you travel extensively you get to take a good look at your inner self and get a better understanding and appreciation for the world outside that self.

  • I love this post! I have changed so much (for the better) since we started our full time travels almost 12 months ago. I think differently, I act differently, and most importantly, I LIVE differently. I am more confident in my abilities, I don’t stress over the small things anymore and everyday I live outside of my (old) comfort zone.

    I am so proud of how far I have come (and how far we have come as a couple) through our travels. I hope there are many more changes (all positive of course) in store throughout the rest of our days on the road!

    Thanks again for such an inspiring post!
    Suitcase Stories – Nicole recently posted..Why Paris bought me to tears

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Nicole! I love how you said you even “live differently” now. That pretty much sums up this entire post!

      It’s awesome hearing others talk about how travel has changed them for the better, too.

  • Alouise says:

    Love this. I think every trip I take, even a small one, it makes me more adventurous as well, especially when it comes to talking to people. I tried couchsurfing for the first time this summer, and that was a big step. I would have never been able to introduce myself to someone, let alone stay at their house, even a couple years ago.

    Also I find it’s easy to see the changes that travel has on other people. I have a friend who went to Europe for the first time last summer. Before she was worried about traveling alone, and now she’s got plans to visit the East Coast by herself in August.
    Alouise recently posted..Souvenirs and A Contest

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I agree that it’s always awesome to watch how travel changes others. And then of course reminding myself that it’s probably changing me just as much!

  • Great post. I agree with almost all of the points you’re making, travel can really help you come into your own. You’re right, travelling independently is a great way to immerse yourself into the experience and can offer all sorts of opportunities, but, after extensive periods alone, did you find it encompassing in the end?
    Andrew Wilson recently posted..Dairy Diary #5

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’m quite an introverted person to begin with, so I’m used to spending a lot of time alone (I just never used to be as comfortable doing it before). After really long periods alone, of course I enjoy some conversation and company! But the great thing about solo travel and my new adventurous streak is that I’m never really TRULY alone – there are always other travelers around to talk to/hang out with if I want to!

  • Jennifer says:

    My dad is in law enforcement too. He’s the chief county detective in my hometown. And that meant no breaking the rules for me either. Ever.

    I’ve definitely become more adventurous through traveling. I’m not afraid to approach people and I’m always willing to try new things. I too was a terribly picky eater and I’m anything but now.
    Jennifer recently posted..The Coral Adoption Program at Anantara Kihavah Villas

  • Ryan Brown says:

    I’m so happy it has helped you grow this much Amanda! I know that even while New Zealand was my first big trip, this person I became while traveling was much different in a good way. Ever since I began reading your blog I’ve noticed you have become much more outgoing and adventurous, especially with the spontaneity. That’s what life is about, and you are living it! Keep on with the awesome traveling and personal growth, and live gnarly =)

    p.s. You went on a Haggis tour? I was washing dishes in Wellington when those parties would roll through! Damn, what a rambunctious bunch of singles! Haha.
    Ryan Brown recently posted..Live Gnarly Everyday: Don’t Trust your Gut.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Travel definitely can do some great things for a person, can’t it?

      And I think we might be talking about different Haggis tours? I’m talking about one I did with Haggis Adventures up in Scotland.

  • Penny Sadler says:

    Yes I am more adventurous and more confident too. And a lot less afraid of being alone. It’s wonderful isn’t it? Where in the world did you get that photo of the luggage all lined up on the street? That is awesome!
    Penny Sadler recently posted..Postcard – Dallas Arts District

    • DangerousBiz says:

      The luggage pic was snapped in Liverpool, England, if I remember correctly. It was some kind of art installation, and I thought it was awesome!

  • Jessica says:

    Yes! Food has been the biggest one for me. Traveling has forced me to try so many foods that I would never have even considered eating at home. It’s funny, when i visited home recently, I was excited to eat a lot of the foods that I had been missing while I was on the road; but when I actually had them, they weren’t nearly as good as I remembered. I think my tastes have really changed as a result of eating so many new foods.
    Jessica recently posted..The Cockfight in Koh Chang

    • DangerousBiz says:

      My tastes have definitely changed, too! I now love a lot of things I would have made a disgusted face at before. And I’m much more open to at least trying new things, even if there’s a chance I may not like them.

  • Congrats on your personal journey! I agree with you that when we travel more we become more comfortable with dealing with the unexpected. We stretch ourselves to grown in ways we wouldn’t have thought of. One thing I’ve been doing on my past few trips is not planning and just seeing where spontaneity takes me. Taking trips without expectations can lead us to some of the best experiences.
    Curious Nomad recently posted..Who is doing The Ultimate Train Challenge 2013?

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I completely agree that going in without expectations (and sometimes without plans) can lead to some of the most amazing experiences. Traveling has definitely helped teach me that!

  • Holler, Amanda! I think you summed it up perfectly. Travel has wonderful effects on many aspects of a person’s life.
    Susan @ Travel Junkette recently posted..11 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

  • Amy says:

    Love this post. It’s all so true, especially the being more laid back and spontaneous. I went on my first big trip nearly two years ago and unfortunately most of the “toughness” I gained has gotten lost somewhere since, as well as the spontaneity. I look back on the me who got 15 hour bus rides in Vietnam and decided on a whim to toss out the itinerary and go to Koh Tao based on one person’s recommendation and it’s like a different person! I’m headed to South America next year and can’t wait to get her back 😀

  • Shannon J says:

    Traveling has made me more comfortable speaking to people I don’t know. I have met some wonderful friends this way.

  • Ria Dancel says:

    Traveling has made me realized how I can be independent. When I spent a year in South Korea last year (to teach in a university and not to travel for leisure), I was alone and away from my family. Going to different places in a strange faraway country was scary at first, but it was a fulfilling experience. Good thing I never experienced being lost despite that most people I met on the road barely spoke English. Now, I am back here in the Philippines, and I can say I am bolder now as I was able to survive a year alone 🙂
    Ria Dancel recently posted..Terrazas de Punta Fuego

    • DangerousBiz says:

      That’s definitely a great thing to learn from traveling solo. I’ve gained a lot of independence from traveling alone, too.

  • Great to read everything you write and especially this line: “…studying abroad in New Zealand helped me become a more laid-back person. And it definitely did.” Yay, go NZ!
    Eventful Woman recently posted..May the Fourth Be With You

  • Rodrigo says:

    I agree with all you’ve stated, and I’d like to add that even interacting with people from different countries and/or cultures alone (not necessarily while traveling) makes us more prone to trying new things.

    For instance, while I’ve always been quite open-minded about food and love fish, I used to think sushi had to be something people ate only because it was fashionable rather than tasty, and it took me befriending Americans (usually much more open-minded about new gastronomies than the Portuguese) to finally try it and immediately fall in love with it. Now I’m the first to suggest going for sushi when eating out ^^

  • Where is this monument with suitcases located?

  • Sanjeet Veen says:

    There’s something really freeing about traveling. I love the freedom of belonging to the world.

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