Guide to Living: Experiences Not Things
Apr 29, 2019 - 6 min read
In a previous post, we had established the fact that Millennials are more willing to spend money on travel than on long-term investments such as cars or housing. We discussed the statistics, the numbers which pointed to this very real trend in how money is being spent. What we didn’t delve into as much, was the motivation behind this trend. In this post we are going to talk about why spending money on experiences is actually, logically, more justified than spending money on possessions. If you’re interested in finding out who wins the battle of experience vs possessions and why then keep reading!
Well, first of all, let’s think of the question from a totally different perspective. When you are out to hire talent to work for you, when you are looking at the resume one of the things you look for is the amount of experience the person has. That’s self-explanatory, right? You want a well-rounded individual who can tackle the job with confidence. Most employers understand the value that is to be seen in confidence and independent thinking (two qualities that are also developed by life experience, such as travel, by the way).
And that brings us to the topic at hand, how life experiences can be enriched through travel and why that is more valuable than any material object. Here are 3 priceless qualities that you develop as an individual when you travel, making these experiences more valuable than any possession ever could be.
It’s probably been said a hundred times, but nothing could be more true than the statement that travel gets you out of your comfort zone. You end up being exposed to something entirely strange and different from what you are used to. You begin to face challenges, be it communicating to strangers with a language barrier or practicing the culture of haggling at a marketplace. These experiences help you to step out and do things you didn’t even know you were capable of. Of course, the more you do, the more new things you try, the more of a confidence boost you get!
Think of the adventures you will have, and all the stories you will be able to share with others. You’ll be going home with so many unimaginable experiences acquired, and let’s face it, you’ll become a much more interesting person to show for it. If nothing else, you can say that the experience of travel probably gave you the opportunity to rediscover yourself, understand and hone in on different aspects of your own personality. Traveling will help you to develop your social skills as well. Meeting new people from anywhere between guided tours, bars, cafes, hostels, buses or sharing a photo op by a monument, all these just give you more social experience points. Interaction with people from all walks of life, be they introverts or extroverts, locals or fellow travelers, will give you a new sense of confidence when interacting with people back home!
Interacting with different people will also help you to become a more empathetic person. As you are traveling around the globe, you will make new friends, who will give you a new perspective on life and give you insight into the local culture, traditions, beliefs, forms of communication, community life. These are all eye-opening experiences which cannot be learned in any other way. There is an old saying “The more languages you know, the more you are human.” If you really try to get yourself immersed in your destination, you’ll find yourself picking up on the languages. Common phrases like, excuse me, hello, thank you, sorry, how are you, are bound to pop up in everyday conversations.
Talk about a lesson in diversity! If you’re lucky, you really will learn about the local culture. This includes the traditional delicacies and cuisines, letting your taste buds experience unique flavors. It also means being more aware of a diverse set of cultures, whether it’s weddings or funerals, festivals or customs, these experiences will broaden your horizons in ways you couldn’t have previously imagined. Yes, these things are intangible, but they do more to help you grow as a person than an automobile or a cigarette addiction ever will. It’s this kind of life experience that will put your life into perspective, and make you aware of how people live outside of your own personal fishbowl. You’ll return home with a new appreciation towards everything you have and probably will open yourself up to new kinds of opportunities that life throws at you.
The proof is in the science. Psychologists have studied the question and according to a 20-year study conducted by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, there is one powerful and straightforward conclusion: Don’t spend your money on things. It turns out that the happiness that comes from material things fades quickly. Something that excited you at first quickly loses value with time. Possessions are always compared with newer, better things which makes them easily replaceable.
Experiences, on the other hand, become part of who we are, they become our identity. No two people’s experiences are truly comparable. Each experience is unique to the person who’s had it, therefore they are more invaluable. The happiness caused by travel starts from the moment you start planning your trip all the way to the memories that they create and will be held dear till the end of time. Think about it, surely you’ve had moments of buyer’s remorse where you think to yourself, ugh, that probably wasn’t worth the money. But you can rarely ever say that to an experience.
“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless, they remain separate from you,” says Gilovich. “In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”
Confidence, empathy, happiness. The 360 Stories team thinks that these are probably the biggest takeaways you can take from a travel experience. And what it all boils down to for us, are stories. While some may argue that traveling is indulgent, that money would be better spent on saving up for a home or building a future, we argue that the stories make everything worthwhile. Traveling goes beyond ticking off a bucket list, it is an enriching guide to living. Experience, not things, is what impacts you as a person. The fact that these interactions and experiences are fleeting only add value to them, and it’s a value that increases over time, unlike things.
Years later, sharing about when you participated in the Holi festival in India will make for a much better story than that car or new generation phone. These stories last a lifetime. These photographs, snapshots of memories, are strong reminders of the cultures, landscapes, and cuisines you were exposed to, the challenges you overcame, the things you learned. As the well-known adage says, “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” These stories can never be taken away from us. The moments when our dreams came true. They go on forever and are therefore extremely valuable.