If you’ve been checking out our site, you know how much we value travel as a form of education, so naturally I thought it right to share some life lessons learned through travel. I outline five life changing lessons I’ve been lucky enough to receive and this post goes over the first two. Enjoy, and check back for part 2!

Travel yields uncertainty, and uncertainty yields growth

Our tolerance for uncertainty is like a muscle. When we lift weights, though it may give us a rush of endorphins, our muscles are actually undergoing trauma. The work creates tiny tears in the muscle that as they heal, help our muscle grow stronger and larger. Uncertainty works the same way. Whether you’re trying a new hobby, speaking in front of a large group, jumping into a new career, or traveling, you’re practicing dealing with uncertainty.

Each time you do something new, your tolerance for uncertainty gets stronger (like your muscles). When we travel, it’s like uncertainty on steroids. We’ve left our daily lives, the comfort of our own beds, our favorite foods, and our routines to be assaulted by the new sights, sounds, and smells of a strange place. Though it may feel enjoyable (or maybe not!), rest assured that you are growing stronger under the weight of all that change.

During a study abroad semester in college, I was backpacking alone around Europe when the trains went on strike. I needed to get back for a final and the train timetables were in chaos. Though difficult to figure out alone, my 20-year-old self learned a lot from that encounter with massive uncertainty: 1) how do get shit done,  2) sometimes things go wrong and complaining won’t help, 3) how to be creative, 4) how to be self-reliant, 5) how to ask for help in other languages. Now compound this list upon years and years of traveling, and you can see why at The Traveler’s PhD we truly believe that travel is a form of education!!

Traveling builds deep connections

Not too long ago I was approached by a friend about co-founding a startup. The opportunity wasn’t quite right, but one of the things she suggested we do to determine our fit was to travel together. I was pretty impressed, it’s actually a genius strategy for choosing a partner of any kind! 

I’ve experienced so many meaningful connections coming out of traveling with friends and significant others that it had to be mentioned on this list. You wanna get really close with someone? Backpack around India with them. Almost 10 years ago, my best friend and I met up in Delhi and totally winged it through Rajastan, to Varanasi, Goa, and Mumbai. There were adventures, a lot of mishaps, some pretty bad bathroom incidents, and more. ​

In our world of Facebook and Instagram, we’re always showing the best of ourselves. But when you travel with someone, they see you when you are under stress, tired, and maybe not feeling very well. They see how you treat people of different cultures, how you are with managing money, and how resourceful you are. Taking it a step further, if you want your relationship to be intact by the time you return, you also have to be honest with each other. Not many relationships in “the real world” get to this deeper level. ​And hey, you can reminisce together about your adventures for years to come.

Check back soon for three more life lessons learned through travel in part two!