Invest in yourself, invest in travel

With summer season almost over and the tax season just about to end with the deadlines for annual reports to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) almost completed, Filipinos, like us, who are in the audit and tax industry have all our bags packed and ready to go and visit places. 

Not only Filipinos are hit by the “travel bug”, but people in other parts of the world, too. In fact, my daughter based in Europe had been to 60+ countries (that means she had the privilege to discover more countries than her age) and my daughter here in the Philippines had been to several countries, too. It is not a competition but it just goes to show that people love to travel and our family is no exception.

Why do most if not all people love to travel? One scientific explanation is that when we travel, our brain adapts and rewires, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Allowing oneself to be exposed to new experiences, unfamiliar environments, different languages and people are the keys to building new neural pathways in the brain and potent stimulus for neuroplasticity. Such rewiring of brain makes a person more creative and more open to new ideas according to Dean Sherzai, MD, PHD – a co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention at Loma Linda University in 

A 2012 study by a psychology professor Thomas Gilovich from Cornell University shows that happiness is derived from experiences, not things – people tend to have more regrets over inaction for experiences than possessions.  In Gilovich’s 2014 study, it shows that experiences are the glue of our social lives much more than the latest gadget. Experiences like travelling especially with family and loved ones allow us to get closer with each other which is impossible to attain with the things that we buy.

Travel also strengthens relationships and enables us to experience new things together, get to taste gastronomic delights unique to a certain country, see breathtaking sceneries, immerse in other cultures, etc.  It also gives us a chance to capture memories which we can look back through the years.

When you travel and take time off from work, it releases stress and tension and makes you feel calmer. Thus, it is important when one travels to make sure that the itinerary is not so tight that will create more stress rather than calmness. 

They say travelling together can either be enjoyable or can strain relationships – depending on your attitude during the trip. To make it something to cherish than to be a cause for regret, be the kind of person who can adjust and be flexible, lower your expectations, try to be kind than right, reach out and you can be an effective conduit for a happy and enjoyable trip.

You do not have to be wealthy to travel. Choose a destination and a schedule that will fit your budget. But whatever it is, somehow you have to spare some of your budget for travel. The investment you make will translate to experiences which will form part of your “treasure chest”, which you can take with you for as long as you can and even to your “death bed” (hopefully not in the near future though) and which you and your family can cherish. Unlike material things which depreciates, travel experiences stay with you forever.

Even if you have to travel alone or with another person, the experiences will always enrich your perspective and expand not only your borders but your relationships, as well.  When you meet other people along the way and even if you just observe them, you will realize that they are no different from us and yet they have their own idiosyncrasies which make them unique.  It consequently opens your eyes that out in this vast universe, there are similar but different people as well, with different cultures and a great wide world waiting to be explored.

One important lesson I gained which made a remarkable imprint in my memory, was when we went on a travel cruise to Greece, Turkey and Italy (tracing the steps of Paul in the Bible). With us in the cruise, are people from other countries and some of them are retirees. When it comes to climbing the Acropolis in Greece or any places where you have to climb, they can no longer go up and have to content themselves waiting down below. Thus, do not wait for the time when you have the money to travel, but you do not have the energy to enjoy it.

When you travel, you invest in yourself and become richer not only in experiences, in memories, but also boosting your brain to gain better perspective about life and the world. Travel is a gift to yourself and to your loved ones. Beyond the memories captured in photos and the stuff we buy to remind us of the place, it makes a significant and lasting impact in the health of our brain and boost its capabilities.

Want to invest for a better version of yourself? Travel.

(Wilma Miranda is a Managing Partner of Inventor, Miranda & Associates, CPAs, Chair of the Ethics Committee of FINEX and member of the Board of Directors of KPS Outsourcing, Inc. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions.)