Why You Should Be Selfish and Travel the World


When you’re dreaming about travel and travel-planning, your trip can become your whole world.

Does all this putting yourself at the center of things make you self-centered? Where does it leave the other people in your life? When it comes down to it, is travel a selfish pursuit?

Here’s why we think no, and why we think you should do travel anyway.

Does travel make you selfish? We don't think so. Here's why.

1) Doing Good For Yourself Lets You Do Good For Others

As soon as I started to travel and volunteer, my mood went through the roof. I was so happy to be doing what I’d always dreamed. I was so happy to be traveling.

That positivity rubbed off on others. Happiness engenders happiness.

When you’re living your dream, your positive outlook can make others stop and think about what they could do to feel the same way. Or, it just lets them join you in a laugh and a smile.

2) Travel Makes You Happier

It wasn’t just collateral cheerfulness I was spreading. As I traveled further, I became more active about sharing the good vibes.

My outer and inner life did a complete 180; When I was doing things for others, I was thinking a lot about myself.

Working hard at school or at a job, as I’d always felt I should, much of my thought processes were consumed with questions like: Why am I doing this? What can I do to be happier? What am I really meant to be doing?

When I was doing things for myself, I was thinking about others.

Travel isn't selfish: it makes you happier and you spread that joy.

3) You Think about How to Give Back

Living the travel mission I’d always wanted to try, all my deep, existential worries about my purpose faded away – for the moment, I was living my goal instead of mulling over it.

With me sorted, I found myself thinking much more about the people around me.

How were they feeling? How could I help them? What would be a nice little thing to make someone smile?

And once you’re in that state, you’ll find it doesn’t end when your trip does. Travel continues to bring unexpected joys to my life.

4) You End Up Bringing It Home

Spending a year abroad was a big investment in myself, but now that I’ve put the time into pursuing my passions, I’ve noticed some definite changes to my outlook on life.

Solo travel was my big dream. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of time waiting, but I made it happen.

And that’s an accomplishment that’s given me a lot of confidence.

I’m more secure when faced with little, everyday hiccups that used to worry me endlessly.

5) You Return with Different Goals

When I was hellbent on travel, I tried to save as much money as I could, and live on just a little while I was abroad. Now that I’ve done it, I’ve found I don’t have a huge desire to live on more. Instead, I just feel more appreciative of what I do have.

It’s given me a stronger foundation on which to build better relationships.

6) Travel Makes You More Outgoing

With family and friends, I’m more cheerful, quicker to laugh at myself, and so thankful to be with them again after time away.

Travel made me much more outgoing. After making conversation with 40 new people at once, it’s a lot easier to chat with one or two people you encounter at home!

Striking up these conversations has led to interesting connections. I’ve been more proactive about meeting local and traveling volunteers in my area, networking with people who share my interests and making not just friends but friends of friends and even strangers feel welcome in my home.

Perhaps the best discovery I made while traveling is this:

You can only give other people what you already have.

If travel is the curiosity you have to satisfy, and the goal you’re longing to meet, don’t hesitate to put the time and energy into chasing down your dream.

Because once you do, you’ll experience those moments of utter joy and contentment that you can give back to the people you meet, and the world you’ve roamed.

How has travel changed you?


About Author

When Julie was a little kid, she conspiratorially whispered to her dad, "You know what? I have powers." It took the world, and Julie, about 20 years to figure out what the heck she meant by that. But in 2010, when a chance backpacking adventure turned into a year of transformational travel, she cracked it: her super power is Wonder Wandering. Her mission? Using her powers of volunteering for globe-trotting good, not evil. Her kryptonite? Stayin' put.


  1. This is so well-said. It’s exactly how I felt about everything the first time I went abroad. I felt like I was leaving a lot behind, but the experiences I gained were so utterly life-changing that I was a completely different person when I returned five months later. Some people liked the changes I’d made, and some didn’t. But I was happier overall and my new outlook on life definitely allowed me to have more meaningful relationships with the people in my life. I couldn’t agree any more with everything you said – great post!

  2. Julie you gave me goosebumps! I love how you see it as being able to give to others more now because you’ve given yourself awesome life experiences. What a beautiful thought!

  3. I def. felt what you felt. Traveling is something I desired since I was a young girl, that’s I ever thought about on a constant basis. After I graduated from College last year the travel bug hit me hard! Thanks to God I was able to fulfill my dream of living abroad and I am currently living in South Korea. I’m enjoying every minute of it. And like you said your happiness and dreams coming true rub off on other people. I have friends who are interested in living in South Korea. When you’re happy and doing the unthinkable it does make others want to fulfill their dreams!

  4. Dayum! You have another super power: the ability to read travelers’ minds & put their (our) EXACT thoughts down on paper! This post is all kinds of AWESOME. Ü

  5. This is exactly how I have been feeling recently! I’m glad I stumbled across this post! I’m using this summer (working 60+ hrs a week!) to save money and leave in September. I’m so happy all the time because I’m working hard towards my dream of traveling. My goal is to spend a year away from home and try to see as many countries as I can.

    At times I second guess myself and wonder if I’m making the right decision. These thoughts come to mind usually when I have my family members (who don’t want me to leave) spitting nonsense in my ear. I shake these thoughts out of my head and remind myself that I am pursuing my DREAM!

    Coming on this website and reading posts like this make me more confident and more excited than I already am. Thank you!

  6. This is beautiful and so true. I feel like I am a better person when I nourish my soul with travel. Experiencing beauty and positivity myself spurs me to try to bestow beauty and positivity upon others. Travel has also increased my confidence, while at the same time lessening my fears. I have been suffering from anxiety for years, but since I have started traveling solo, I have noticed that my anxiety has lessened, and that I even have totally anxiety-free days on occasion. Confidence is so important to one’s well-being, and I’m so happy that travel helps me with that.

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