I always tell people that if they want to grow and become a better person, there is no more effective way than to travel.
I started traveling when I was 20. I went with a band to Paris, France and I was absolutely addicted. I literally looked at real estate when I was there on that trip. I still to this day haven’t experienced anything as amazing as travel and it has strongly shaped who I am as a person.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a Doctorate in marital and family therapy and in my oh-so-copious spare time, I still occasionally do relationship coaching. I also teach psychology at a local college. I tell my clients and students time and time again that if they want to build self-esteem and character and confidence and social skills and do away with many issues such as some varieties of anxiety and depression, travel is the most effective and most fun route.
This is one reason why I’m a proponent of off the beaten path destination weddings. Don’t simply fly to your resort, sit around the pool, get married, sit around the pool more and go home. Explore this new world you have come to. Have adventures! It’s more than just interesting, it will make you and your spouse better people and I believe it will help you to have a better marriage too.
More social– Traveling absolutely requires you to become more social. You are going to need to talk to people and interact and if this sounds terrible to you, from one introvert to another, it’s actually really enjoyable. You get used to it. It totally freaked me out at first, not only am I a bit of an introvert, but I grew up in a bad area where a stranger talking to you meant danger and confrontation. So being antisocial was a survival mechanism.
It was weird to me to have to talk to people and even weirder that so many people voluntarily talked to me first lol. But it’s become one of the things I cherish most now about traveling.
For your marriage, learning to be more social with each other and those around you can only strengthen your relationship. A social support network is one of the biggest predictors of a successful marriage and happiness in general.
Better at conversation—Now that you’re better at socializing, travel will also give you something to talk about. As an introvert, I am familiar with awkward and anxious moments of silence when a conversation drops away. My experience traveling has saved conversations time and time again. Everyone wants to hear about kissing the blarney stone. Everyone wants to hear what it’s like to climb the Eiffel Tower or walk around stone henge.
But not only does it give you something to say, by having to socialize with so many strangers, you also learn to become a better listener. There’s only so many times you can tell your own story and hearing other stories becomes a highlight of traveling. Conversation is about listening even more than it’s about speaking. Talk about an excellent skill for your marriage.
More adaptable—Did you know that the more siblings you have, the lower your chance of divorce? This is because you grew up dealing with other people and their nonsense (like your brother who got toothpaste everywhere). This adaptability means that once you’re in a marriage, you can deal easier with the everyday hassles that are a normal part of life. It doesn’t bother you as much because you’re used to it.
If you didn’t have siblings, don’t worry, you can still travel. I assure you that traveling will throw all sorts of hassles your way and will require you to learn to adapt and deal with each new situation and environment. Missed buses, wrong turns, bad directions, even natural disasters. You can get angry, but there’s nothing you can do about it so at the end of the day, you learn to just calm yourself down and deal with it. Traveling doesn’t give you the choice to adapt or not adapt. You just have to adapt.
More confident—When you see that you have the skills to navigate the world, interact successfully with people, care for yourself and help others out, it can’t help but build your confidence. How could you not feel confident when you’ve surfed off the coast of Ireland, walked the great Wall of China, taken an illegal picture in North Korea? (I’m not advocating the last one, but I probably would).
The biggest issue I’ve seen in couples therapy is two people who feel insecure about themselves and so feel like they have to protect themselves. You can’t have a healthy relationship unless you’re willing to be vulnerable and you can’t be vulnerable unless you’re confident in your ability to take care of yourself. Scared people don’t take risks in life or in relationships, confident people do.
More easy going—You’re confident, adaptable, you’ve made mistakes, screwed things up, taken risks that didn’t pay off…and you’re still alive and living life. What is there to get upset about? Did someone die? No? Well then let’s move on. Traveling teaches you to roll with the punches. Now imagine having this skill in a relationship.
More adventurous—Couples often divorce because they ‘drift apart.’ Basically what they’re saying is they got bored, began to live their own lives and disconnected from each other. Adventuring through the world together keeps this from happening.
Adventure builds connection. Even if you travel alone, which I have done a lot of, you still find other people to connect with or you feel connected with the world. You develop intimacy through adventure. And traveling becomes a habit. When you’re done with your trip, you retain the adventure mindset. What interesting things can I be doing locally? What can I learn? What can I do new? This keeps the excitement and romance in your relationship.
Less materialistic—My first solo trip, I packed a humongous suitcase and it. was. miserable. The stupid thing was so heavy and so cumbersome and I felt so embarrassed when I rolled over a poor lady’s toe going through the London Underground. I vowed to never take more than I could carry in a small hiking pack. Tops 20 pounds. Because of this, I’ve really learned to deal with very little material possessions and even when I’m not travelling, I like to live a minimalistic lifestyle.
Why is this good for your marriage? Because the top number one reason for divorce is MONEY. Couples have so many issues because of money. Spending it stupidly, not having enough, working too much to get more so you can afford to buy things that make you somewhat happier to fill the void in your life because you’re not doing anything but working.
If you could happily life a life with fewer material possessions, you could have more quality time in your life, you’d be happier and have a better marriage. Travel is a perfect training ground for learning to appreciate all the non material joys that life has to offer. You learn to appreciate simple things and simple moments. What could be better than that?