The Transformational Power of Travel: Evidence

How inspiration from travel can change you and the world

Some time ago I wrote a post trying to elaborate the reason why I considered travel important for humanity, and worth working on. In a nutshell, I explained how I believe that when people travel, especially during their youth, they open their minds and hearts to the problems of the world and the “oneness” of humanity, and as a result they become better citizens of the world. I argued that if a critical mass of people had this transformational experience we could achieve unity in the world, which seems fundamental to tackle the grandest challenges of humanity.

This week I watched the video of Bill and Melinda Gates speaking at the TED 2014 Conference. I was so happy to learn that the idea to donate most of their fortune to solve humanities’ biggest problems and to create the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation came, in fact, from a trip! In 1993 Bill and Melinda were in their early thirties and traveled together to Africa for the first time. Melinda says:

“In this trip we really went to see the animals and to see the Savannah (…) But what really touched us actually, were the people. And the extreme poverty. We started asking ourselves questions. Does it have to be like this? And at the end of the trip we went on a walk in the beach (…) and it was really there when we said, what can we do? and how can we go about it?”

Bill and Melinda Gates in their first trip to Africa, 1993

This is exactly the kind of inspiration and transformation that what I was talking about! Think about it: the world’s biggest private foundation, that has already channeled many billions of dollars into solving some of the biggest humanity’s issues (mainly in healthcare and education) and has literally already saved millions of lives, started because of the power of travel. Crazy.

So, this is why I believe the mission for WeHostels and StudentUniverse are so important. As we continue inspiring and helping millions of young people travel and discover the world, I’m sure that we will contribute to transform some lives and thus hopefully make the world a better place.

Have you taken a trip that transformed you?