With worries about seeming irresponsible to my parents if I failed to economically manage my entire stay in a foreign country with a weird, incomprehensible currency (Czech Korunas, I’m throwing shade at you!), I hopped on the plane with my mind filled with an endless stream of exchange rates.
We all know how, especially in our Arab culture, it’s difficult to prove to one’s family that you’re a grownup. Look at how it’s mostly frowned upon, for example, to move out of your parents’ house before you get married, especially for women.
Admittedly, it took me a few days to truly understand the meaning of this article’s title; traveling really is invaluable. With curious minds and eyes hungry for exploring the new, huge city we found ourselves in, we couldn’t wait to pounce on every attraction we glanced at.
Soon enough, we were paying mounting fortunes to see everything from churches to towers to art galleries. We were going to local pubs and trying all the local dishes. We were immersing ourselves in a culture we’ve never before experienced, but that intense cultural exploration did make us spend every penny we had on us.
Why though do I, as I sit here writing this piece and looking back at the few memorable days I spent in Eastern Europe, feel no guilt whatsoever? Allow me to explain why you can never put a price tag on traveling:
1. Material things have an expiry date; memories made while traveling will definitely outlive them.
Sure, that lovely Michael Kors handbag that everyone seems to be obsessing over looks nice, but will it make you laugh every time you think of it?
2. One’s mind can only grow when it continues to be exposed to different settings.
Spending money on traveling can be the best investment in terms of self-growth and fulfillment.
3. How can you price the inspiration you get when you realize how vast the world is and how diverse its populations are?
Plus, you get to swear in Arabic and no one even understands what you’re saying!
4. Treating your taste buds to different flavours is probably one of the best things ever; after all, food is one of life’s pleasures.
Sure, our local molokhia and koshari are lovely, but my taste buds crave more surprises – hence, my willingness to try the weirdest food combinations imaginable.
5. The interesting people you meet on the road and the unbelievable stories they have to share can only be found whilst traveling.
6. You do truly learn to be responsible and independent the moment you earn total and complete freedom – AKA when you’re lost in a country you’ve never visited before, and you’re wandering its streets whilst freezing your butt off because you can’t get to your hotel.
In the Arab world, there’s always someone to help – or at least try, but out there in other countries, you’re pretty much on your own, especially if those around you can’t speak enough English to save their lives.
7. Even the worst experiences you face whilst traveling (even near-death ones) end up building you up and making you truly appreciate the genuine essence of life.
Who knew being stuck in a human stampede with hundreds of thousands of people could end up being a positive influence, huh? It takes risking one’s life to truly begin appreciating even the most unattractive parts of it. Yes, you can actually miss Egyptian streets even when they’re clogged with traffic jams.
8. You end up understanding more of human nature when you get exposed to other cultures.
There are good people and bad people everywhere, regardless of nationality, religious beliefs and/or sexuality. Belonging to a certain religious sect or holding a certain nationality is no indication whatsoever of the goodness of your soul, as opposed to popular belief in Arab societies.
9. Your travel buddies will start feeling like family to you and you’ll realize that blood ties are not the only things that can make you have that bond with someone.
You’ll find comfort in those you lean on while traveling and those who share the whole experience with you.
10. Your mind will forever crave more adventure and more exposure.
It’ll be fertile ground for every growing curiosity and an incurable wanderlust. You’ll never again want to settle for your homeland’s comfort (or pseudo-comfort) because you’ll realize that your “home” is scattered all over the globe and that the only way you’ll get to it is by traveling around.
So go ahead, lovely readers, embrace your lust for exploring and save up for a trip anywhere. A fancy hotel or stellar plane seat isn’t necessary – just pick a destination, keep things simple and head on over there!
Don’t be a tourist, wanting to only experience the country from the balcony of your luxurious suite. Go down, get lost in the streets, talk to a few locals, eat and drink at a local pub and maybe even find yourself terribly lost and confused; you’ll figure everything out soon.
Spend money – no, not on fancy designer clothes, those Prada sunglasses will one day end up breaking anyway, or a five-course hotel meal – but on experiences you’ll never ever forget. Trust me, it’ll be well worth it.
WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss 10 Risks You Absolutely MUST Take When You Travel.