5 Ways Travel Can Change You

Science gives proof that travel is good for you.

By Mathew S. Chan
June 08, 2015


Traveling, especially on long trips, makes us experience new things, but does it actually change us? Dr. Julia Zimmermann and researcher Franz Neyer published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that proves that traveling can truly change your personality.

The experiment involved studying a group of German students, half who traveled and studied abroad for a semester or two and another half who didn’t. They were all tested on the “Big Five” personality traits (i.e. openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability) before and after their travels. The students who traveled all scored higher for each trait after they returned as well as in comparison to the students who stayed in Germany.

Want to learn more about how travel changes you? Read on for 5 ways.

1.    You become more sociable.
When you are traveling to somewhere new, you automatically encounter people who were brought up differently and live in a whole new environment compared to yours. To survive, you need to talk to people and learn how to deal with them. Because you constantly meet new people on your trips, you develop your social skills in a way you wouldn’t have if you had remained in a single place.

2.    You become hyperaware.
When you stay at home and in your neighborhood, you feel comfortable and safe. You acquire a sense of security since you know the nooks and crannies of your place. When you travel to a new place, though, you no longer have that. You are automatically pushed out of your comfort zone, so you develop a sense of vigilance and become more aware of your surroundings, which is important when you’re traveling somewhere unfamiliar. It also helps develop your attention to detail.

3.    You become more open to new experiences.
Travel itself is a novel experience, and going on a lot of trips makes you become even more open to new things. You become less afraid of being in unfamiliar environments and develop a more easygoing temperament. There is a thrill in experiencing new things, and when you keep traveling, the desire to try more new things increases.

4.    You mature faster.
There is nothing like living on your own to make you take charge of your life. When you travel, most of the time you will be alone, or even when you are with a group, you will need to take care of yourself. Being faced with new places and experiences helps you develop perspective and become more mature emotionally.

5.    You become open-minded.
The environment you grow up in plays an important role in how you see things and choose to experience them. As you travel, you learn about other cultures and thus become more knowledgeable about what’s happening in the rest of the world. Your mind expands and welcomes new ideas since you get to experience them, see them, and learn about them first-hand.