Why Travel Should be Mandatory


Here’s my Part II on Lifestyle Design.  To recap my last post, I am taking the Tim Ferriss definition of Lifestyle Design and fully embracing this quote from the 4-Hour Workweek:

“Gold is getting old.  The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan (living the rat race until retirement and then trying to live it up when you are old and wrinkly) and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.  This is an art and a science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design (LD).”

For this post you’ll have to allow me to be absolutely dogmatic about the mobility element in Lifestyle Design.  Here’s something I believe with every fiber of my being:  Travel should be required of every able-bodied person on earth.

Here’s why:

It is one of the best ways to gain perspective

Travel is one of the best ways I know to hit the reset button in life.   Being away from the familiar and mundane, being exposed to new things is like an injection of objectivity for your life.  As soon as the plane leaves the tarmac I am able to sever contact with my day-to-day life for a while and reflect on what is going well and what isn’t.  It is very liberating.  Some important decision making and fat cutting can happen when I leave it all behind for a while.  Try it.

It does not cost a lot of money – lack of funds CANNOT be an excuse

Here’s the thing:  You do not need to be rich to travel.  To experience the beauty of travel you don’t need to go far.  A simple relocation will do.  Go to a different town and walk around.  Sit in a cafe and think.  Meditate.  Drink in the differences.  Even overseas travel doesn’t have to be pricey.  There are volumes of books written for the budget traveler.  There are options for heavily discounted travel and free accommodation.  Stop making excuses for yourself.  You can do this.  It is not that difficult.  You can travel in style for WAY less that you are spending per month in your apartment… but that is another post.

It is the antidote to small-mindedness. 

It is impossible not to have your perspective grow from travel.  Most of the narrow-minded people you meet are people that never experience the education of travel.  They don’t want to be reminded of the fact that they are from a very little pond.  They can’t deal with different rules.  Different ideas.  New ways of seeing things.  Don’t join the ranks of these ostriches, burrowing their heads in the sands of provincial oblivion.  You can do better.

It teaches the value of experience

Experience is a currency that not a lot of wealthy people are rich in.  Often, those that have prioritized accumulation of wealth and traditional careers have sacrificed time and attention for these status symbols of yesterday. Experiences are a far more valuable currency than cold cash.  Experiences are what we remember.  Experiences cannot be bought.  They are forged through the correct use of time.  They require courageous decisions to embrace better priorities.

It shows other ways of being human

One of the best things about travel is the fact that it exposes you to other cultures that show you ways of life that can be extremely valuable.  Travel allows you to learn from these cultures and incorporate them into your own lifestyle.  You can treat world cultures like a buffet – you get to pick and choose the best of the best.  Some of the most interesting people out there are people that have successfully fused the highlights of a several cultural traditions.  They are CultureMutts:)

It makes you a better person

It is hard to travel and not be edified by the process.  It is often a spiritual experience to be on the trail.  Life as usual is life on autopilot – not particularly enlightening or challenging.  It is lazy living.  Don’t settle for this.  Determine to grow.  Determine to become better.  Determine to travel.



Bjorn Karlman


9 thoughts on “Why Travel Should be Mandatory”

  1. I completely agree on all points made and would like to add that traveling also teaches patience. Living in South Korea taught me how to be patient and hold my temper because Lord knows that the Koreans do things in their own special way ;)

    I would also like to mention that traveling to South Korea inevitably brought me to where I am today, which is in Loma Linda CA, studying an MPH in nutrition. If I had never worked in South Korea I may have never realized just how obese this country has become. When I stepped off the plane upon my return to America, I was awe struck at the rampant obesity and it’s THE NORM!

    I’m now determined to use my experiences abroad to not only further my education but also to also teach those around me about better living!!

    Thanks again for Culture Mutt!

    1. Thanks for checking in Vanessa! I can relate to the reverse culture shock… sometimes the most shocking part of travel is coming back. Congrats on the MPH decision… And obesity is a great one to tackle.. keep me posted on your thoughts about how to re-educate communities on healthier living… I work with a few people that are experimenting with some interesting related ideas…

  2. Love it. May I add that regular traveling is a good idea? A cultural psychology study looked into this and it found that people who only travel every few years come back home with a “oh thank god I’m back in my wonderful country” attitude, and they typically look down on wherever they just visited.

    Stay long enough to understand what makes the place tick, rather than doing the obligatory visit to the tourist trap, snapping your pics and then going home. Sit in the little-known places and soak it up. Let it change you.

    “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

    1. That is a really excellent point, Karin. Short-term tourism is no way to travel. Especially if all you see is your all-inclusive resort and the drive to and from the airport… You may as well stay in Des Moines

  3. Agreed. I was just talking to a couple peace core volunteers while here in Costa Rica and we were having this exact discussion yesterday. there is life outside of America or whatever country you’re in. You’ll have more perspective and more inspiration and more frequent flier miles if you just get out and travel. you’ll be less likely to hurt people and more likely to support revolutionaries fighting guerrilla wars. Thanks Bjorn and see you at the airport!

  4. I especially agree with the idea that long-distance travel is not needed, but rather an openness to experiencing new locations and getting out of your comfort zone. I mean, what did people do before they invented airplanes? For most people, just getting to know their neighbors would be a good first step. I mean, why bother going to get to know the interesting people in China when you have tons of interesting people you don`t know right around where you live? A missionary attitude to come close to people around you, sympathise with them, and help them the best you can, I think is the real necessary element here. First, you gain open-mindedness by realising that we are all very similar. Secondly, you are challenged as you gain an outside look at your own life. Thirdly, I have found that this brings new awareness of why Jesus is relevant and needed in every human life, including my own.

    You have to admit, that even a globe-trotter can still live a very narrow existence if they only seek the companionship and association of other globe-trotters when they travel. They`re living in their bubble just like everyone else, just that their bubble is a globe-trotter one.

    So to conclude: attitude over physical movement

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