Travel, as Mark Twain said, is ” fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I think it’s absolutely true: if you were to ask people at the international terminal of an airport about their views of people different than them, they’d have a more positive outlook than those who have never traveled, even within in their own country. After all, Oregon is very different than Georgia, despite being states both belonging to the USA.
Travel, then, is very obviously worthwhile, teaching the lesson that people are, well, people, wherever they are, in the most obvious way possible. But travel is not easy. Learning this lesson is not easy. Simply put, growth is not easy. And I don’t think it should be, for if it comes easily, is it really growth? Going abroad can be difficult, I freely admit. It can be awkward and strange and shocking, and you might not eat or sleep in a manner you wouldn’t expect. Going with a group can be incredibly beneficial: you have a built-in unit, you have friends who speak your language and are willing to share their time, knowledge, (usually!) food. It can also isolate you. Without getting out, getting away, from your friends – which is hard! Leaving comfort is not fun, and it’s especially so if compounded by a language barrier – you are liable to lose a lot of the culture of your new location. Spending a day exploring your new city, taking a train to the local waterfall, even tacking on a few days to your trip to see something you’ve always wanted to – these are the moments you’ll remember, the times that were exhausting and confusing, when you ate two pastries for dinner at 11pm and didn’t even know what was in them because your hostel wasn’t close to open late restaurants and you don’t speak the first word of Portuguese – those are the moments that matter.