Travel takes a lot. It takes money, debit cards, planning, patience and time. Colombian pick pockets have taken my purse, Bali ATM’s have taken my banking information, India has taken my definition of personal space and shrunk it ten fold. New cities have stolen my heart, or a small piece of it, because there are just way too many cities I have left my heart in. New lovers, or usually dive instructors, have taken over my bed, sometimes taking all of my dignity with them. 30 hour bus rides have taken my sanity as well as my cameras. Travel takes it all, every emotion on the human continuum. It takes sweat, sacrifice, tears, grit, guts, confidence – the whole shebang. Yes, travel takes and takes. But travel also unselfishly gives.

Although every place I go has taken a little bit from me, I’d like to believe that I get to keep a little piece of that place as well. I have taken a lot from the places I love – rocks, Tibetan singing bowls, local vodka, hotel toiletries (shhh…), a whole lot of friends and Facebook connections and experiences that will stay with me forever. Here are a few of the things I have gained from traveling – do you feel the same?

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Travel gives us courage

Courage to take on the world on our own; to think outside our box, to escape our social framework and knock down its perfectly constructed walls. Travel gives us courage to realize that we are good enough, we are beautiful souls with the ability to stand on our own two feet in any country, city or space in the world.

Travel gives us a glimpse into the lives of others

It allows us to foster new friendships, create unimaginable stories and befriend those who we usually would not look to for friendship.

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Travel gives us a deeper satisfaction with our own lives

Seeing the lives of others makes us appreciate the light in our own life. We all become wrapped up in our own problems, our own bubble, and often find ourselves wishing we were somewhere else. But when we have the opportunity to go, to run wild, the vision of home doesn’t seem so bad anymore and it allows us to really value and appreciate what we do have.

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Travel allows us to find pleasure in the little things

Travel is comprised of little treasures; beautiful moments intricately woven together by the people, places, and cultures that we come across. The little things become the biggest things while traveling – the aroma of a fresh cup of black Colombian coffee, the gap-toothed smile of a local street vendor, the feeling of eating with your hands in India – you just can’t explain the pure joy in the simplest encounters on the road.  

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Travel gives us opportunity

Opportunity to expand our vocabulary, our networks and our perceptions. It gives us the opportunity to understand the cultural differences we read about and experience them first hand.

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Travel gives us sustainable happiness

I know it sounds like a cheesy cliche, but travel breeds long-term happiness. Not just in the moment, but for an extended period of time. The faces, smells and stories become etched into our facade – and imprinted in our makeup.

Travel gives us freedom

Freedom – the most important element of all. Travel gives us the most heightened sense of freedom, as it lends us the ability to just go anywhere in the world. It gives us the freedom to experience the wonders of life on a seemingly alternate universe.The freedom to be affected by crushing poverty in an Indian slum, to be tormented by a need to help somehow, to be haunted by places and to leave our hearts in the mouths of villages, towns or cities. It gives us the freedom to design a life we love – and the ability to search for all the tools to do it.

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The give and take of travel is constantly changing. Some days travel takes and takes and takes and never wants to quit. Some days on the road take so much energy, so much effort to get from A to B, you begin to wonder if it is worth it. These are the days you sit in your hostel googling flights home and dreaming of your comfy bed and warm shower, and you think ‘how will I get up and do this whole travel thing tomorrow’.

But, travel always gives something special back at the right moment – a bright red sunset over the Pacific Ocean, a $1 greasy empanada to make up for a stolen purse or a free beer from a local who doesn’t speak English. These moments leave us with a peace of mind that it is all worth it. The pain of travel is always worth the pleasure, and the give is always worth the take.

phoebe nygren

This is a guest post by Phoebe Nygren. Phoebe 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.