The positive effects of running are endless: the heightened moods, increased level of happiness, and of course the endless array of physical benefits. Running in a foreign city is also the most incredible way to learn how a culture moves. Every step will lead you out of your comfort zone and into an up close and personal look at the world beneath your feet. So, be sure to pack your sneakers for your next trip!

Here are six reasons why you should run out of your room and into the world:

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1. To conquer your fears

Running in foreign countries can be intimidating – I admit my first morning lacing up my Nikes and heading straight into Ho Chi Minh traffic was quite terrifying. But, just like life, the risk is usually worth the reward, and the reward of running abroad is just too great. If you let it, running can transport you somewhere new; it allows you to grasp the feeling of a new place on a completely different level. Don’t be afraid to step out the door and into a new place, getting lost is part of the experience and you will probably meet some awesome locals along the way asking for direction if you happen to get lost.

2. To embrace your beautiful body

We all know that long-term, short-term, and really any-term travel lends a little weight gain into our lives. Sometimes this can lead to a bit of traveler’s depression, and self de-valuation. If you ever feel this way, GO FOR A RUN. Running is a way to get your confidence back, boost your self-esteem, and realize that the beauty of your body lies in what it can do, and how it feels, not in how perfect it may look from the outside.

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3. To capture the irreplaceable ‘Kodak moments’

Running exposes you to areas, faces, and places you would never otherwise experience. It allows you to discover the nooks and crannies, the street art and abandoned buildings.  Whether you run with your iPhone, or are able to physically capture the picture is irrelevant; the most important part is that internal ‘click.’ It’s the moment of pure joy as you run into a setting sun dipping below the ocean. It’s the Kodak moment that will stay frozen in your memory forever – and when you dig it back up, that feeling will forever be overwhelming and enlivening.

4. To stumble (literally run into) untouched wonder

Running allows you to get up close and personal with the people, scents, and most of all–the feeling of a place. It lends a behind-the-scenes look into the intricacies of local routine. In Vietnam, I ran into water buffalo killing ceremonies, women selling beverages in plastic bags, anti-American war propaganda, motorbikes carrying loads of materials that shouldn’t even be hauled by pickup trucks, and sometimes into places I didn’t belong.  I’ve tripped over rocks, snakes, gravel, termites, and dirt roads. The tripping, the struggle, the hard part – that is what makes it all worth it. You begin to fall in love with becoming part of the mess­, part of the chaos.

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5. To get the ‘runner’s high’  

The runner’s high becomes even more enhanced while running somewhere new. Close your eyes and taste it – that magical, wide-smiled, tantalizing feeling sending endorphins rushing to your brain. Running in a foreign country is just different­ – it’s electrifying and new, and every step is filled with the rush of running like it was your first time. The journey becomes the destination: there is never a finish line, a time limit, or a caloric goal… just endorphins baby!

6. To be empowered

Traveling can sometimes leave us feeling helpless, and exposed – whether we have to face 10-hour-delayed buses, annoying drunk Thai boys, creepy taxi drivers, or bad weather. Running is one way to bring the locus of control inward again; you don’t have to rely on anyone else, and you can just move exactly where and how you want to move. It allows you to throw all expectations out the window.

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When you run abroad, you are not expected to run your fastest mile or look pretty or answer to anyone; all you need to do it to try, to learn, to fall ten times and get up eleven. If you want to add depth and texture to your travels, I dare you to give it a go. Try ten minutes and see where they take you…

All photos by Phoebe Nygren, Caroline Schmitt & Unsplash.com


This is a guest post by Phoebe Nygren, who has previously shared her thoughts on traveling here.

phoebe nygrenPhoebe is a Wisconsin wild child with a passion for travel coursing through her veins. She is a yoga teacher, ice cream addict and loves going absolutely anywhere with a go-pro strapped to her head. She has been upside down in 36 countries and blogs about her adventures on Transient20s, a twenty-something travel blog dedicated to the crazy eats, streets, and experiences of life on the road. You may also connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.