Can travel be a tool for personal development?

Sometimes, I feel like travel is seen as something selfish. To some people, it’s still the least obvious choice. Oh, are you not looking for a job yet? Oh, you don’t have a boyfriend? Where are you going this time?

It makes me feel like traveling isn’t a valid choice. That’s why in this blog I try to argue that travel can be employed as a tool for personal development.

I believe it’s completely possible to travel the world and be a better person for it.

Learning New skills

Whether it’s picking up a new language, being more assertive (to tell that annoying dorm-dweller that chatting on the phone when people are sleeping is a big no-go) or picking up on scams, you will gain skills that influence other areas in your life.

I picked up a little bit of surf, yoga and cooking skills on my travels.

Something much more important that I learned by traveling solo, is going out there and not be scared. Traveling alone has taught me to be self-reliant and brave in situations that made me uncomfortable or unsure of myself. That’s not a small thing in my book.


Volunteering is another option to combine travel and personal development. It can be a nice addition to your resume, too. There are plenty of volunteer options out there. Please do consider where and what you are going to do as volunteer.

There are certain projects that are not a good idea. If you’re spending two weeks with orphaned kids, are you helping them? Or are you another person that shows up for a while and then abandons them, leading to (greater) attachment issues?

If you pay a massive amount of money to raise baby cheetahs by hand, is that conservation? Or are you raising animals for the canned hunting industry?

I want to stress that there are really amazing volunteer organisations out there. However, some are just after your money. Just ask yourself, does this contribute to a world I want to live in? Choose wisely.

Working Abroad

Another way travel can aid your personal development is when you work abroad. There are plenty of different ways to do this.

It’s possible to teach English in a number of countries. You could get a working visa and test your luck on the slopes in Canada or be a bartender in Sydney. Opportunities to work can be found in many places all over the globe.

Although these seem like fairly simple jobs, living and working abroad can still do wonder for your work ethic and intercultural skills. Anyone that’s ever worked in the service industry, will probably agree that it can be a very demanding work environment.

At the end of the day, whether you can combine travel and personal development, well

It Depends on You

This all sounds lovely, hey, look at me, traveling and developing and being amazing. (Pardon the sarcasm.)

Honestly though, I’ve met plenty of people that just travel the world and don’t change at all. They go to 50 different destinations and yet seem to remain the same. None of the locals, food, culture, or wildlife has made a lasting impact.

At the end of the day, if you are open to new experiences, new knowledge, and new skills, you will change. Hopefully for the better 😉

Did you learn certain skills abroad? Has traveling changed you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.



travel and personal development

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