‘Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer’.Unknown
This is a quote I often see doing the rounds on Instagram, ordinarily above the head of someone with their back to the camera, looking off wistfully at an over-saturated landscape.
You know the type!
The quote itself doesn’t seem to be attributed to anyone in particular but it certainly is popular.
But is it true?
Well, as with so many of these things, yes and no.
I am a big believer that travel does make you richer. It has enhanced my life in ways I don’t think anything else could have. It opened my eyes to the wider world as a child and continues to help me stretch and grow as an adult.
But is it the only thing you can buy that makes you richer?
In this post, I am going to break down the phrase a bit, give you some examples of how I think travel does make you richer, but also explore some other things in life that money can buy that I also feel make you richer.
So all in all, a pretty rounded article then!
If you disagree or have anything to add, then that’s exactly what the comments are for! I reply to everyone one!
Exploring the Phrase ‘Travel Is the Only Thing You Buy That Makes You Richer’
The word rich is most commonly used in referring to money.
So how can something you purchase, also make you richer?
In this instance, rich is used to mean ‘abundance’. A forest rich in flowers, a city rich in history, a lake rich in fish all of these would have plentiful quantities of their resource. The use of ‘rich in’ suggests richness in something other than money.
So the phrase is saying that travel is not giving you more cash or wealth, but an abundance in something else.
But you’d probably figured that for yourself anyway. It’s not like dropping $1,500 on a flight is going to multiply in value like investing would.
So what does it make you richer in?
Maybe experiences? Or happiness? Maybe a richness in new friendships? Or rich in lessons such as geography or history?
This may be different for everyone, but I think there are a few themes that have run through my travel life that I will share with you now.
7 Reasons Why Travel Makes You Richer
1. More Stories to Tell
If there’s one thing travel has given me more than almost anything else it’s stories to tell. When I’m 80 years old with my grandchild sitting on my knee, I am going to be able to bore them senseless with tales of adventures around the world.
The trouble with everyday life is it becomes routine to a stage where things pass you by after a while.
When I first got into a car for lessons I had to focus on every single movement. When I drove off after I passed my test every trip felt exciting as I made the most of my newly-earned freedom. My drive to work this morning? I couldn’t tell you a single thing about it! It was routine. I do it all the time. It passed me by.
Now, before you mindfulness crowd start flooding the comments, I know, I should be better than this, but let’s be honest here that we all do it.
This changes when you travel. In a new environment everything is different. Something as simple as ordering from a menu or working out how to get your washing done becomes memorable. Those things that are completely forgotten in the routine of everyday life become stories to tell in the future.
- That time we ended up in a tuk-tuk who we thought was being helpful but actually took us straight to his friend’s fashion store to try and get us to spend money.
- Stuck in a remote Thai village, where the place we’d booked online turned out to be closed for the season, and having to negotiate with a lady who only spoke a local language to let us stay in one of her wooden chalets.
- Misreading the sat-nav in Bosnia Herzegovina and ending up on roads fit only for a 4×4 in a beaten-up old Renault. No phone signal, no recovery and a weird amount of dead snakes on the dusty gravel road.
None of these would have happened in the city I can navigate, in a language, I’ve spoken for my entire life in a place I feel comfortable.
But they are stories that travel gave me, that enrich my life and I will remember for a lifetime.
2. Learning About Different Cultures
There is simply no better way to understand a country and its culture than to go there.
I’m not trying to say for one minute that a two-week trip suddenly makes me an expert in the aeons-long history of a place and its people, but it certainly increases the knowledge quickly.
It also makes me realise how there are more things that make cultures similar than different. Even if a country feels a world apart, at its core people have the same values and desires – a healthy, happy family, somewhere safe to live, a job that helps them put food on the table and a life with purpose.
I always feel richer when I’ve spent time in a culture that I’m not used to, as the similarities make me realise how small the world is, but the differences help shake me out of my usual routines and grow my interests and understanding.
3. Meeting New People
Relationships make life richer, that’s for sure, but in the rut of day-to-day life it’s not often we reach out and meet new people.
When travelling though, this is often different.
Travel pushes us out of our comfort zones and leaves us surrounded by people we don’t know.
4. A Real-Life Classroom
Many people take their young family on the road with them, because they believe that travel can teach the practical that goes along with the theory of the classroom.
Geography, history, languages, religious studies – so many of these subjects can be experienced first-hand when in a different country.
This isn’t just applicable to children though, one of the things I love most about travel is slowly learning about a place. I find I remember so much more from seeing something than reading about it in a book.
Did you know for example:
- More bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War than on the whole of Europe during World War Two?
- That Melbourne was originally called Batmania?
- Malta is the only country in the world to have been awarded the George Cross?
- There is a vial of Jesus’ blood stored in a church in Bruges?
Just a few random bits of knowledge that have collected in my brains whilst exploring, none of which I would be likely to have found out unless I’d been there.
5. Self Reflection
Travel certainly isn’t always exciting. There are long periods of getting from one place to another or waiting for a flight/bus/camel/beer that gives space for the brain to run wild..
It’s in these periods that I have time to reflect that I don’t seem to be able to find in the busy grind of normal life.
It was on a trip to Seychelles that Becca and I took the time to chat and decided to take our first sabbatical, three months off work exploring Southeast Asia.
It was on the sabbatical that I accepted a job in Australia, that’s led to us starting a new life on the other side of the planet.
Never underestimate how self reflection can help you take a few steps forward in your life I find travel gives me this time that has led to decisions that have truly made my life richer.
Travel can make you feel richer, by accomplishing things you’ve not done before.
These accomplishments can be list-based such as the obvious ticking countries off a list (I cover this more in ‘How Many Countries Are There to Visit?‘) or setting other travel goals relating to your passions such as visiting UNESCO Heritage Sites, running marathons in different locations or visiting football stadiums.
There might be other things you wish to accomplish through travel though. I have a big list here of different reasons to take a sabbatical which covers lots of inspiration for travel accomplishments. This could be everything from using the trip to help learn a new language, to finding the perfect location to take a divemaster course.
Whatever it is, travelling can certainly lead to accomplishments that make your life richer in the long run.
7. Recording Where You’ve Been
For many people, myself included, travel can be the catalyst that ignites a new hobby.
I started off my recording my cycling trips on a small blog, which then turned into a travel blog in my own name, before eventually growing into this site you see before you today.
My love of photography has also blossomed thanks to travel, with my shutter-competence pushed forward by new destinations and wanting to have detailed images to go with my memories.
Whether it’s a small notebook, a map-based blogging site like Tripline (here’s my Tripline map from our Southeast Asia sabbatical) or starting a new Instagram account to share your journey with friends and family, recording your adventures can be the start of something new, or serve as an account that you can look back on for a lifetime.
Recommended Reading: My Favourite Photography Gear
Other Things You Can Buy That Make You Richer
Charity or Gifts for Others
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”Chinese proverb
That act of selflessly giving to make others happy is definitely something that enriches your life.
It’s been proven in multiple studies that selfless acts of giving time, money or helping someone activate the same part of the brain sex does. It’s a pleasure response that not only enriches the life or lives of the people you’re helping, but also yours.
Recommended Reading: 38 Gifts for Someone Going Travelling
Whether it is in the form of books, courses or education, knowledge is something you can spend money on which will enrich your life.
Money doesn’t have to be invested into formal education to yield results, just investing in a course that will help you learn more about your hobbies and interests can make a huge difference. I’ve taken online courses on photography, blogging and marketing that have helped me learn more about the things I enjoy (though always work through all the free content available on YouTube first as some of this is just as good!).
Recommended Reading: My Favourite Books of All Time
Some of the greatest investments I’ve made in life have been in my own health. Whether it be finally getting professional help with my anxiety, seeing a dentist after 10 years of not bothering (yes, I am a terrible human being) or paying a coach to take my running to the next level – investing in your own health truly does make your richer.
Many of us dream of living a long life, but what is that worth if we’re not flexible enough to sit down and play with our Grandkids, alert enough to engage in meaningful conversation or fit enough to get out of the house.
Having a rich life involves much more than just living for a long time and I have found every investment I’ve made in my own (and my family’s) health has paid back multiple times.
This is a little more literal that the others, but good investing is something that does turn money into more money, making your bank balance grow.
I learned early on that spending money on things erodes wealth, but setting aside as much as I could to invest will grow wealth in the long-term, giving me more choices on what I do later in life.
This is certainly not an investment blog, so I am not going to offer any advice other than – look up the value of compound interest. If you can find the money to set aside it will pay you back in the long run.
Recommended Reading: The Power of Compound Interest and Why It Pays to Start Saving Now
Travel Is the Only Thing You Buy That Makes You Richer Quote Photos
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