By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
Travel is good. Not only is it good, there are many studies that prove it has significant health benefits. For me, however, the biggest benefit is personal growth and learning. After reading this blog, if it stirs your passion for travel, please go to www.dreamdestinations.com (our new, updated website) and select the Send Us Your Travel Request button—as we say Your Journey Begins Here! So, let’s examine the benefits of travel together.
Some Facts about Americans and Travel Overseas
According to a study conducted by Hostelworld Global Traveler Report, Americans are about 50% less likely to travel abroad than Europeans. The report states that 29% of Americans have never left America. The average American has visited 3 countries; UK residents average 10 countries; Germans 8 countries; and Frenchmen 5 countries. While it is true it is easy and cheaper to travel if you live in Europe to other countries, it saddens me to know so many Americans are missing learning and experiencing most of our wonderful world. Far too often, Americans chose Canada, Mexico and somewhere in the Caribbean for their only international visits. We would hope they would expand to other worldwide locations. We are here to help you if you are ready to explore to other areas of the world, especially Europe.
I Learned at a Young Age the Benefits of Travel
My parents started my lifelong love of travel at an early age. My Dad loved the outdoors, and we often went camping as a family. As most of you know, my Dad was a career Army officer. When he was reassigned to Okinawa (I was 12 years old), we visited most of our nation’s national parks on the way to the West Coast of America. We drove across America to get to a ship that took us to our new home—it sure was a great learning experience to see a lot of America. But the real lesson was living and traveling in the Far East. You can read about a rice paddy, but until you see a small plot of land worked by hand by folks living so differently than you do, that you began to understand how complex our world really is. Yet, you also quickly learn people all over the world are basically the same. They may look different in their outward appearances, but they have the same wants and needs as you and I do. Experiencing different ways of life, and connecting with locals, is a far better way to learn about the world than reading about different cultures in a text book. I was lucky, I was exposed to our unique world at an early age and it quickly changed my life for the better. To this day, my wanderlust is still strong—thanks Mom & Dad for exposing me to the benefits of travel at an early age!
The Health Benefits of Traveling
There are several health benefits of traveling. Here are 4:
It is good for your heart health. A study of overseas travelers reported that there was a reduced risk of heart attacks in men and women.
Travel enhances your cognitive abilities—it sharpens your mind. New challenges in a different environment will stimulate your brain. It is especially true of folks who engage with the local people and their culture. Just experiencing different languages will improve your communication skills. Most travelers at least learn a few new words or phrases in a different language and are exposed to new foods, so it is easy to see how travel can sharpen your mind.
You get to relax and disconnect. Wandering old medieval towns of Europe, sharing an al fresco meal in Rome or Paris—that is my idea of relaxing—a good glass of wine and locally grown, seasonal food! Most of all, I want to slow down a little and savor life and my surroundings. I always seem renewed after travel and there is evidence that many folks upon returning from a vacation are in a better mood and more creative. I know I am.
Your Travel Experiences will Make You a Better Person
You will become more confident. Change is difficult sometimes but it will help you grow. When you travel, you become different. You leave your comfortable, known world and venture into the unknown. The best part is that the unknown soon becomes familiar and usually awesome. Good or bad experiences still leave you changed, but I will tell you, most travel is great. The best part of venturing out is that you gain confidence in yourself. It is very empowering to know you can handle new experiences.
You can read about place but until you experience it, you do not really understand it. Battlefields, Biblical sites, ancient towns, stunning structures, different food markets, and jaw dropping scenery are all different when you visit in person. Pictures and words are never the same as being there. It is amazing how many times I have visited a new place and the visit completely changed what I thought the place was like.
Travel will also quickly teach you how little you know about the world. Even as a former teacher of World Geography, who thinks he knows a lot about the world, I still have a lot to learn. Always after every trip I take, it just reinforces that there is so much more to learn and experience. It always makes me eager for the next adventure!
Travel will make you appreciate your life and the world we live in. You see some of the wonderful things humans have created. They have created amazing buildings and structures. They have found many ways to create good, tasty meals and great beverages and when you try some of them, you will wonder why you hadn’t tried them sooner. You will be amazed at how they have adapted their lives to their surroundings and environment. You will see beauty. These experiences are life changing and you will have been given a true gift—a better understanding of our world and the people who live on our planet. Travel broadens your horizons.
Travel will provide you experiences that you will never forget. We have been lucky to have experienced so many, it is hard to select just a few, but I will try.
- Imagine the joy of seeing our Granddaughter’s eyes light up on a Disney cruise, dressed up as Elsa—she really was a princess.
- Wish you could have joined us savoring excellent wine and food floating on the rivers of Europe in a river cruise boat as castles peer down on us from the cliffs.
- Celebrating the holiday seasons in the many Christmas markets of Europe is always a highlight.
- Watching a play in London is fun and was made even better riding the Tube (subway) with many folks dressed up as characters from The Rocky Mountain Horror Show.
- Drinking beer at a pub in Dublin, Ireland with rugby fans from Ireland and Scotland just prior to their international test match later that day, is really getting down with the locals.
- Gazing on some of the world’s great art in Paris, London and St. Petersburg helps you understand how creative humans can be.
- Learning to cook a great meal from a celebrity chef in Wales was a bucket list for Anne on her 60th birthday.
- People watching in the many outdoor cafes of Europe can be so entertaining you will sit for hours enjoying the street life of Europe.
- Walking in ancient ruins, imaging that we were famous ancients of an era long past, allowed us to bring history to life.
- Doesn’t this make you want to go—just writing my blog has stirred my desire to get back to Europe soon!
My Final Thoughts
Travel is good! There are so many benefits of travel that outweigh the minor disadvantages of making travel arrangements (most of which we can easily solve for you), so now is the time to take action! Please, reach out to us with your travel ideas! On our new website (www.dreamdestinations.com ), there is an easy way to let us know where you want to travel. It is called Send Us Your Travel Request. This short form will start you on the road to a great travel location. Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you! We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel. Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at email@example.com. We want to help you: Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!
HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years. He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years. He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees. His other Certifications:
- AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
- Viking River Cruise Specialist
- Scenic River Cruise Specialist
- Emerald Waterways Specialist
- Avalon Waterways Specialist
- Brit Agent