Travel For Your Well-being

There are many people who don’t travel. Some cannot afford to travel. Some are perfectly content to stay at home and just do their “staycations”. I’m not about to judge anyone for their decision, just like I hope others don’t judge me when I travel to France again and again.

“À chacun son goût” = “To each his own”.

So why travel to France….or anywhere in the world? Travel for your well-being.

1. Comfort Zone

Noisy River France Well Being
Jumping off a 50 foot pole at Noisy River Outdoor Education Centre, Canada

This picture is me at a team building retreat at Noisy River in Ontario, Canada where I was to jump off a platform which was 40-50 feet off the ground. The task was to try to touch a pole hanging in the distance. My knees were literally shaking from being up so high. Thank goodness I was tethered and supported by my team mates. Did I do it? YES!

Travelling can take you out of your comfort zone (if you let it), forcing you to possibly speak another language and eat different foods. While some find this unsettling and want things “just like at home”,  your brain is being exercised!  You can grow and learn when you encounter new experiences.  You learn that you CAN and that although initially things were uncomfortable, life went on and you were OK.

2. Learn New Things

Oysters at Le Baron Rouge in Paris, France Well being
Oysters at Le Baron Rouge in Paris, France Photo: J. Chung

When you travel you learn so much: how to eat oysters, how to speak French, how to make macarons, learn new cultural norms (ie. saying “bonjour” when entering a store), and how to cope when things don’t go right (ie. getting on the wrong train from Paris to Spain).  I am constantly looking for new experiences in France whether they be active, educational, or culinary. This makes my travels so much more interesting.

3. Learn About Yourself

When I travel, I write in a journal and when I was much younger I wrote about my career aspirations and things I liked and didn’t like to do. It was a time for reflection and learning about myself. We are often so busy, on life’s treadmill, that we don’t slow down. Travelling gives us permission to do that. You learn that you can achieve a lot and solve more problems than you ever imagined (ie. what to do when you leave a concert outside of Annecy and realize there aren’t any buses or taxis to take you back to town…that’s in a future post).

4. Introvert or Extrovert?

Chateau du Close Lucé in the Loire Valley, France Well being
Chateau du Clos Lucé in the Loire Valley, France Photo: J. Chung

Theoretically, introverts get their energy from within. Extroverts get their energy from other people. For me, people can wear me out, but in France, they don’t! (and I am an introvert, although my friends would scoff at this).

I think when I travel, I have been able to balance the “socializing” with “alone time”, which introverts need to reenergize. When you travel you can DO whatever and BE whoever you want to be, especially when you are travelling alone. No one knows you!  

5. Perspective: See Things A Different Way

I get annoyed when I hear people make negative comments about the French. They say they (especially the Parisians) are rude. Is it just that I have NEVER encountered a rude Parisian? I have, but in Toronto I’ve also encountered rude Torontonians but I am NOT going to generalize a whole population and label them rude.

So when people say the French are rude, I tell them about my experiences…that I try to speak French. That I try to follow their customs and do things “as the French would do”. Think of it this way, if you were from France and came to North America, would you not try to speak English? Isn’t it arrogant to think everyone else in the world should speak your native language? When I am in France I try to speak French and I AM sometimes corrected. I truly believe its a cultural thing when they correct you.  I do not take this as a slight. I actually welcome it as it will improve my French.

When we have a greater understanding of another culture. We become more tolerant. Maybe that’s what the world needs now: greater understanding.

6. No Rules Except Your Own

When you travel you are not constrained by “rules” (even if you’re on a bus tour). You can do whatever you want. You want to sit at a cafe and read? Do it. It’s your vacation. You want to hike up Mont Blanc in the French Alps and do some yoga on the way? Just do it. You are your own boss. Travelling to another place gives you freedom and permission to do whatever you want and often doing something that is out of the ordinary will open up doors.

7. Doors Open

Chateauneuf-du-Pape travel France Well being
Chateauneuf-du-Pape Photo: J. Chung

On my very first trip to France, I was NOT a wine drinker. I travelled to Provence and stayed in Gordes with my family. I was introduced to Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines and from that point on I became interested in wine—-French wines to be exact.

I took a number of wine courses and when I visited other towns in France, visiting vineyards became one of the interesting things to do. Had I never tried the wine, I would never have visited the Fête de la Veraison in Chateauneuf-du-Pape  and experienced a famous wine festival which is filled with dancing and wine tasting (of course).

8. In The Moment

Hostellerie le Marechal in Colmar, France Well being
Hostellerie le Marechal in Colmar, France Photo: J. Chung

There have been more times in France that I have been “in the moment” than anywhere else: riding my bike along a canal in Burgundy, sitting in the courtyard at Ecole des Trois Ponts language/cooking school doing my homework, sitting in a cafe in Paris watching people go by, gazing at the canal in Colmar in Alsace France (above), and lying on a boulder in the French Alps staring at the clouds, taking a nap.

When you travel, your senses come alive. You become much more attuned to your surroundings and worry less about the past and future. You are, in the moment, and I think this is healthy.

So, if you haven’t travelled much or you have only been to France once, give it another try. You’ll be amazed at what it can do for your well-being.

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  1. Ah yes those are all excellent points to travel and discovery. I am always learning and in awe of what I see and experience and yes being in the moment when I’m at a particular destination. Excellent post.

    1. Thank you. I love to learn while I travel. Makes the journey so much more interesting.

  2. Betsy Wuebker says:

    All very true and relevant reasons to travel. I am surprised and proud of some of the things I’ve done in the name of travel, and it’s gratifying to know that we inspire others when we attempt new things and visit new places, too. I hesitate to think of what my life might be without this component and I’ll be forever grateful that I had and made the opportunities happen.

    1. We grow so much when we take on new places and experiences and you’re right, it’s nice that others can be inspired too!

  3. Vicki Winters says:

    These are all great reasons to travel and expand ones self. Travel is truly the best thing anyone can do!!

  4. I love those “in the moment” times when you just let go of the little things or future plans and just experience the here and now. All of your reasons for traveling are spot on and I’m so glad that we “gave up” our former lives to experience our new chapter of expat life and traveling. There have been so many days during our travels where I’ve thought, “This has been the most perfect day.” I wouldn’t trade this time for anything!

    1. Nor would I. When I travel, I think I am “in the moment” more than any other time.

  5. Irene S. Levine says:

    What a lovely post—with beautiful pictures and insights!

  6. Susan Reddel says:

    These are such terrific points and suggestions on why to travel and some things to consider. My life perspective changed dramatically once I started traveling internationally. I believe that even if you can’t travel people should at least educate themselves via reading and videos – so much information is at our fingertips it’s so easy!

    1. Really good point. The internet has so much great travel information and photos which makes one feel like they are almost there!