25 ways which travelling and living abroad will affect you
I think everyone should try to live abroad at least once in their lives. If living abroad is not in the cards for you than travelling for an extended period beyond the two-week vacation is a close second. Heard of slow travelling?
Our lives are defined by experiences. The greater the number of experiences, the better our lives become. Travel is one of many ways you can get the most variety in your life experiences and suck the marrow out of life.
I was fortunate enough to have been born into a multicultural family who also did a lot of travelling. I also left home at 18 to live in Japan for over three years, where I taught English and did various jobs, including modeling and hostessing. Now, as a wife and mother of 3, I’m living in France with my family.
Needless to say, I love travelling and recommend it for what ails you. I could probably think of hundreds of reasons why everyone should make travel a priority and try to live abroad at least once in their lives. But let’s first start with these 25 reasons which I think might resonate with you the most.
1- Slow travel and living abroad is less stressful than a vacation
I used to get so stressed out during our families 2-week annual vacation because it felt like a race to jam everything there was to do into those two weeks no matter what the cost. The kids were cranky, I was grumpy, and we fed on each other’s crankiness.
Living abroad or slow travelling can remove or reduce that stressful element of travel by allowing you to take your time- if you have children, then this can reduce a considerable amount of stress.
2-Living abroad is not as expensive as you think
Living abroad is cheaper than you think and costs a whole hell of a lot less than your average annual vacation. When you travel for extended periods or live abroad, you get to rent a house ( cheaper than a hotel room), cook at home because you have a kitchen, do things during off-peak travel and do the lesser-known non-touristy things that are way cooler in my book and cost less.
3-Travelling and living abroad encourages you to live your life to the fullest
You know how you go on vacation and try to cram in as much as you can because you only have seven days to do it all and you don’t know if you’ll ever be back? Living abroad is kind of like that but less manic and rushed.
Suddenly, because of time restraints and the newness of the place you are in, your eyes are open to all that life has to offer. You’re more inclined to take advantage of it all. Too bad most of us don’t feel so inclined when we return home.
Living abroad also means you can’t live on autopilot anymore simply because everything is so different, foreign and new. As a result, you need to make more conscious and deliberate choices about your life and your daily routine. It can be a bit stressful to step out of your routine and comfort zone but shaking things up has its rewards. It gives you new experiences and can help you grow as a person. You might even learn something about yourself.
4- You’ll get to view your culture from another countries perspective
Living abroad gives you the perspective of another culture about your home country. For instance, if you’re American, you may be surprised to learn that many people in France would love to live in America. You may also be surprised to learn how your home country is negatively viewed abroad. Did you know that most of the world thinks all Americans love McDonald’s and are obese?
5- You’ll get a different, broader view of the world
You already knew that other countries have different cultures, but until you experience that other culture first hand, you will never truly understand what that means. Once you do, you may see the world in a whole new light.
6- Travelling is not the cure to your life’s problems. You can’t escape them
If you want to move abroad or travel to escape your problems, you’ll be extremely disappointed because unless you get to the root of your problems and try to solve them, they will follow you to the ends of the earth or be waiting for you once you return home.
7-Travelling makes you appreciate home
It’s natural to take things for granted. When we’re at home, we dream of escaping off to some adventure; however, we often forget to notice the comforts and beauties of home all around us. It’s often not until we are away, seeing home from the other side that we begin to appreciate it. Travel can give you that distance you need. You may even start to appreciate the routine of your life that you thought you wanted to get away from.
8-You may realize you don’t need as much crap as you think you need to be happy
Travel inherently opposes materialism and consumerism. After all, you can only put so much in your luggage or backpacks. It can be hard at first to be away from all the stuff you bought and own, and you’ll miss certain things from home, but after a while, you’ll get used to living with less until finally, you realize, you don’t need as much crap as you thought you did to be happy. It is quite liberating.
9-You learn what is truly important in life and what makes you happy
Just as living without things makes you realize you don’t need the things you thought you once needed, being away from your life can help you discover what is truly important to you. Maybe climbing that corporate career ladder is not what you wanted after all. Maybe being away from your friends and family makes you realize how important they are to you. Or perhaps the time you spend abroad makes you learn something new about yourself that surprises you.
10- You learn to make do with what you have
You can only pack so much and buy so much when you travel. Same is true if you spend a year abroad someplace. Who wants to lug around extra stuff or pay expensive fees for shipping things back home. You end up learning to make do with what you have and buying only what you really, truly need.
11)- You’re kids will get to go to school in another country
Mainstreaming your kids in school while living in another country is probably one of the fastest ways for them to adjust to local life. It’s also a wonderful experience for them, not to mention an excellent way for them to make new international friends.
See Also: Preschool in France- what’s it like?
12-You have the chance to learn a language well or become bilingual
See also: Will I be bilingual if I live abroad?
13- Travelling as a couple can make or break you- It can test you too
Travelling long-term as a couple means spending almost everyday all day together. You need to align your goals, your focus and connect on a daily basis with the other person. All this constant togetherness can lead to some head-butting. You want to see all the museums and the other person wants to lay at the beach all day. You may want to get up early to see the sights while the other person wants to party all night. You want to live abroad while the other person just wants to go back to their small hometown.
14- You’ll learn that you can accomplish more than you think
Bodies in motion stay in motion. It’s just the nature of travel to do and try new things you wouldn’t normally do at home. You might try escargot, train for a marathon or go spelunking in a cave for the first time. All these new experiences stretch and test your limits pushing you further beyond what you thought you could ever accomplish. It’s a snowball effect, and you’ll never want to stop because it’s so satisfying.
15- Getting lost can get you places you didn’t think you would find
When you’re in a new place and new surroundings, it’s only natural that you might get lost once in a while. Getting lost is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it can land you somewhere unexpected and wonderful. Just make sure you have GPS to get back **wink wink**
16- Travel or living abroad can recharge your batteries and give you a new lease on life
Between your busy work schedule and hectic life, your daily routine can become all-consuming and automatic-a series of unconscious acts that happen without even thinking. Each new day begins to look like the previous day. That’s a rut, isn’t it? A year abroad can give you perspective. It can give you the time you need to recharge your batteries.
17- You learn to appreciate your family more (hopefully)
Two things can happen when you travel with your family. You’ll either learn to appreciate them, or they’ll start to annoy you. One of the things I have noticed about living abroad is we tend to spend more time together which is great in many respects but at the same time, spending too much time together can be stressful too. The important thing is to seek a balance between together time and alone time.
18- You may learn it’s ok to question the culture you were brought up in
19- What you thought was an authentic recipe is not authentic
That local Chinese joint is probably not serving you up authentic Chinese food. That expensive French restaurant you like to eat at is not really how French people eat in France. Guess what, you’re getting localized versions of food from around the world which is fine. But if you want to try authentic anything, you almost need to go to that country or know someone from that country who can cook it for you.
20- Time is precious: Make the most of your time
When travelling or living abroad, every minute counts. You have a sense that your time is limited so naturally, you try to make the most of it. Even when you are at a bus stop waiting for the next bus, you can do something together. Break out that hacky sack.
21- Travel can help you be more present and conscious of life as it happens: If you let it
Often, we are lost in our thoughts somewhere- anywhere but where you actually are now. Seldom are we fully here, living in the moment. We’re struggling with something that happened in the past or fearful and anxious about the future. Travelling can inherently help you be more present, in the moment and enjoy life as it is happening if you let it, but you still need to take conscious steps to truly enjoy life as it is happening. Learn to live with less, smile more and forgive past hurts,
See also: 10 steps to living in the moment
22- Sometimes you need to see it rather than read or hear about it
(photo source: Catherine on Blake’s shoulders writing on the Berlin Wall :very concerned about the survivors of the Holocaust.)
Some things are worth experiencing first hand, rather than through photos or books. When we stayed in Berlin, Germany, the kids saw the remnants of the Berlin wall, contemplated what it was like to live through the holocaust and stood on the same soil where people were shot. They showed no previous interest in these things prior but being there touched them in a way and expanded their minds in a way they could not comprehend.
23- You might adopt new customs that you didn’t know you would love
Living abroad can introduce new ways of doing things which you might not have otherwise tried. Some of the customs we as a family have adopted while living in France are: eating more like the French in terms of quantity and time schedule. Going more often to the market to get fresh produce because our refrigerator is smaller than the massive American one we had back home. Your experiences will be different, of course, depending on where you are, how long you stay, and who you travel with.
See also: Why travel with kids
24- You will love living like a local and not a tourist
Travelling as a tourist is great but living somewhere like a local is sooo sooo sooo much more satisfying. The longer you stay, the more friends you make. The more culturally authentic things you will try to experience beyond what tourists do. You’ll get a sense of the daily rhythms and more.
25- For the stories and the hell of it
There are thousands of people out there (right now) who are backpacking around the world, living nomadic-ally, taking a family sabbatical abroad or zig-zagging the continent in an RV: with and without kids.
They are ordinary people like you who decided to live a little unconventionally. To make it happen, some have saved for years. Others sold their house and their possessions while still others work while on the road or some other combination. You can read about some of them here.
Here are other lessons learned by the following travellers
Ramble Crunch- 15 lessons I’ve learned traveling the world.
Four Jandles 50 lessons learned from travelling the world.
Bohemian Travelers: Travel Lessons: Can You Embrace the Unknown
Edventure Project – American Thanksgiving: 22 things we are thankful for
The Nomadic Family: I Know Nothing (and 99 Other Things The Road Has Taught Me)
Peace On Earth: 5 Life Lessons Learned from Traveling
Travel with Bender: So it’s been 6 Months – You won’t believe what we have learned!
Life Changing Year: Life Lessons From The Road – A Little Bit Of Planning Goes A Loooong Way!
Living Outside of the Box: 6 Life Lessons From the Road (why 6? I have no idea!)
A King’s Life: Two things I know for sure
Flashpacker Family: Lessons From the Road of Life
Grow in Grace Life: By Any Road..Lessons from the Journey
Our Travel Lifestyle: Travel: Teaching us about ourselves