“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain
I love to travel—mostly because I always learn something when I do. I learn things about myself, about others, and about the world.
My latest journey was to Morocco. I traveled there last month during a particularly unsettling time in the United States. Morocco is 99 percent Muslim. It is considered a developing country with extreme poverty in many places.
But it’s a beautiful country. Morocco is a feast for the senses. From the stunning mosaics to the aromatic spices to the supple leather handicrafts to the delectable Moroccan mint tea to the hauntingly beautiful adhan, the Islamic call to prayer—a traveler in this wonderful country is never disappointed!
But as this is HealthComU and not a travel blog, I’ve obviously not written to talk just about the beauty of Morocco.
Like many countries, Morocco has two types of health care: public and private. The universal public health care system struggles to provide care to the poorest and most rural citizens (sound familiar?). Morocco’s public hospitals receive less than 10 percent of health care spending in the country, despite accounting for more than 80 percent of available beds.
Nevertheless, when one of my fellow travelers fell ill at the end of our trip, requiring her and her husband to stay in Casablanca for two extra days, she received nothing but the best care the hospital had to offer.
And I could spend the rest of this post talking about how to stay healthy and safe while traveling, but we’ve done that a number of times here at HealthComU, most recently last month. Instead, I want to talk about the health benefits of traveling. Upon returning from Morocco, I stumbled across this article: 6 Reasons Why Traveling Is Good for You. I’d like to focus on two:
- Shifts perspective: Traveling often takes you outside of your comfort zone. Morocco definitely did this for me. But instead of withdrawing and steeling myself against situations in which I was uncomfortable, I embraced them; I let them wash over me, and that familiar detachment that often happens when I travel took over. I was able to see things from a different perspective, experience alternative points of view, and gain greater respect for cultures and ideas that may be different than mine, with the keen understanding that what I know and believe is different, but not necessarily better.
- Increases connection to self and others: And this one really brings it home. I never feel more like myself and less like myself simultaneously then when I travel to a foreign country. Each country I visit teaches me more about myself as I learn more about that country’s people and way of life. This particular trip was a group tour, and my fellow travelers were some of the most interesting and cool people I’ve met. Sitting at home in my little bubble would certainly be safe, but it would keep me from meeting all of these people who I’m happy to now call friends.
So here’s to new friends, different places, broadening minds, and open hearts.