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How Travel Impacts Your Sense of Appreciation and Gratitude

While phrases such as, “Travelling has changed me entirely and has helped me find myself,” might make you want to roll your eyes, there is some truth to remarks like these. Travel allows you to come in contact with people of different cultural, social, political, and religious backgrounds. Experiencing these differences enables us to gain an appreciation and gratitude for our own backgrounds and allows us to understand others better.

The appreciation and gratitude experienced upon returning home is a realization of what you value about your day-to-day life. On trips abroad, the contrast to other cultures really helps these things to become clearer. The impact of travel on appreciation will allow deeper gratitude for your life at home. This is just one of three types of appreciation that travel can help you develop. Travel will make you even more grateful for the opportunities that life has to offer.

Appreciating Your Chance to Travel

While some people are fortunate enough to be able to travel, this is not a privilege that everyone has. In many countries, well-paid jobs are hard to find, and poverty is a widespread issue. When pay is poor, people cannot afford to take vacations from work. Survival becomes their focus while travel and enjoyment take a backseat in their lives.

Many countries in the Western World have more comfortable situations in terms of finances. In addition, they often have the advantage of good infrastructure to match the high demands of the tourism industry. Other countries are sometimes less well connected to the wider world. This makes it particularly difficult for foreigners to visit and for residents to leave their homeland.

People from more affluent countries often have the opportunity to travel during their time at school or after graduating. Holidays with parents, summer job savings, and sponsorship programs offer some people a chance to see the world. If this is your reality don’t take it for granted.

Travel restrictions that impact specific nationalities often further exacerbate the disparity. If you’re able to travel, make sure to intentionally appreciate the opportunity you have!

The Impact of Travel on Appreciation of Home

Appreciating your opportunity to travel is just the start of this journey! The next step starts once you’re away from home. Only then can you become aware of all the things you take for granted. This happens in a variety of areas through comparison between cultures, countries, and people.

Many people go through life navigating issues caused by having less money, resources, and political freedom. Limited access to education and social aid, safety concerns, and crime and corruption, sadly infiltrate the lives of many people. Some also experience devastating natural disasters and wars.

If you’re lucky enough to call a more affluent country your home, travel can be eye-opening. When you have lived in a place where citizens’ rights are protected and provisions are in place to help those in need, the contrasting reality of other countries can be a realization that jars you. Even as a tourist, you might run into restrictions with internet use or problems with free speech in other countries. Sometimes seeing poverty for yourself is what finally triggers a sense of appreciation and gratitude.

Complaining about arbitrary problems can become a pastime in comparatively affluent countries. It often takes a change of perspective to realize that there are graver issues in the world. While we complain about the unripe bananas at the supermarket, the countries that export them may be facing food scarcity. While we argue about quotas for women, little girls from other countries would be grateful for an education. 

Becoming conscious of your own perspective ─ and how it’s been shaped culturally ─ is vital to becoming more grateful for what you have. Therefore, seeing the hardships others face as you travel may serve as a reality check.

Whether or not you end up thinking about your own life in contrast with the injustices others face on a global scale, travel helps you see the world with different eyes.

Bringing Appreciation and Gratitude Back Home

Sometimes traveling abroad gives you an appreciation and gratitude for the foreign and simultaneously gratitude for your home country. After some time away from home, you will not only appreciate the advantages of your home country but may also be able to see the disadvantages more clearly. You might have come into contact with different attitudes, behavior, and cultural traditions, during your travels that influence you greatly.

These different perspectives can be seen as new tools in your toolbox for understanding the world around you. Maybe being abroad has changed your attitude towards spontaneity and planning. Maybe you have even met a friend that you remain in contact with for the rest of your life.

After a life-changing trip, you might be more sensitive and aware of the current issues some countries face. Seeing and hearing about international occurrences may remind you of how impactful and educational your adventure abroad was. Traveling abroad probably taught you much about yourself and how you see others.

Someone who has never left their hometown can easily be just as grateful for what they have. However, they don’t have the option of drawing on comparisons of other ways of existing.  Those who have traveled abroad have an advantage when it comes to being empathetic and understanding the circumstances of others. Therefore, if you have been lucky enough to travel the world, you probably have developed empathy. This is because you have had an opportunity others may never get ─ a chance to see the world from different perspectives.

Traveling may allow you to meet people less fortunate than yourself. Perhaps this experience motivates you to participate in charitable work. Awareness goes a long way in making the world a better place.

Conclusion

Only people who leave their comfort zone and get involved in other cultures will be able to experience at least one of the levels of appreciation and gratitude. Those of us in a privileged position don’t think often enough about the opportunities that are given to us. Beyond having a decent financial and social situation, many of us have the freedom to travel without giving it a second thought. A majority of the population faces grave issues regularly and doesn’t have the privilege of traveling for leisure.

We’ve tried to encourage you to feel greater gratitude when it comes to travel. Now try to look consciously at everyday things that you take for granted and spend some time intentionally appreciating them. Awareness that you have something that others can only dream of will help you maintain a more positive outlook on your life.

Marvin Erdner

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