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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Jensen-Coon: Travel to Trust


Traveling is often a coveted adventure among people. Many of us seem to have a desire to experience more of the world than what is easily accessible to us. We feel fascinated by people who travel and wonder how they do it. Often times hearing about others’ travels creates a longing within us to strike out and broaden our own horizons.

Travel also seems to be some kind of status symbol because it takes money and time to achieve. Does the travel bug bite us because we are simply seeking more status, or is there something more important drawing us in? I think there must be something more, as traveling can fulfill and expand the human experience in emotional ways.

Let’s say a person is living outside of their home state. When this person returns home and tells others about it a different kind of excitement arises. People are glad that the individual gets to leave to go home, but not impressed that they are “traveling.” It is less inspiring to be seen as traveling home even if it still costs money to get there. Why? Perhaps it has to do with the familiarity of the situation. Excitement within the travel journey is the unknown, unfamiliar world you are entering. It’s a dive into a new reality.

This reality can change your existing reality regardless of where you are located. Not only are you seeing remarkable sights and landmarks throughout the world, but you are also participating in self-improvement. Traveling can teach a person many things. If you are on a solo trip it can teach you to be totally autonomous and brave. When traveling with others you can learn to be a selfless team player. You can also learn things about yourself you would never have discovered any other way.

If you have ever heard someone tell you to broaden your mind, you’ve probably wondered how, why and what that means. Some synonyms of “broaden” are: expand, educate, open up, enlighten. More often than not people connect the term, “broadening your horizons” with traveling. Can travel enlighten, educate and open up your mind?

In my experience, it can. I have learned that traveling provides more appreciation for other people and their ways of life. We often fear what we don’t understand. If we fear people or other ways of living I would suggest it is because we are simply too unfamiliar with the ideas being presented. We don’t have to conduct our lives the same way that we observe things on a day-to-day basis, but being open to the beauty of others’ lives can bring an abiding respect for mankind.

Trust and respect usually coexist when dealing with others. If you don’t trust someone, you probably won’t respect them and vice versa. In an interesting article, “Does Travel Broaden the Mind? Breadth of Foreign Experiences Increases Generalized Trust” by Jiyin Cao, Adam D. Galinsky, and William W. Maddux they discuss generalized trust becoming a byproduct of travel. They conducted an experiment to show that those who have traveled experienced an increase of trust, not only for those they traveled among, but for all populations.

In their study, they recognized that not only are there two different types of travel, but one is more conducive to creating a sense of trust for mankind. “It is important to differentiate between two distinct aspects of foreign experiences: the depth of experience (i.e., the length of time one spends abroad) and the breadth of experience (i.e., the number of countries one has visited).” They suggest that having a greater breadth of experience is necessary to create increased trust in humanity. Even the way we examine our travels has an impact on the amount of trust obtained. “Participants who focused on the differences among broad foreign travel experiences had significantly higher generalized trust than those who focused on the similarities.”

Travel can do many things for us that enhance our lives, but a breadth of foreign experiences can enrich our lives even more through learning to trust. Travel often to different areas and gain more trust in humanity — that sounds like a win-win situation to me. No wonder the travel bug bites us; hope is something human nature causes us to crave. It can be found when we realize that those living on the same planet but in another area are different, but still human, thus building a stronger human connection around the world.

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