“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

—Neale Donald Walsch

When you travel fearlessly, you open up the world. You have a chance to connect with yourself and others. You may not conquer every fear, but you will gain confidence and perspective to fear less and live more. And don’t forget; the odds are in your favor.

When you think about travel debacles and terrorist events in the world, you might really start to be afraid of the “what ifs” and second guess your opportunities to travel. Good planning and a logical reality check should help you overcome these doubts—even when traveling to locations that have experienced recent terrorist activity.

Pilar Guzmán, writing for Condé Nast Traveler explains, “the rationale for continuing to visit places like Istanbul, Paris, Bali, or Cairo extends far beyond numbers, and even beyond the popular idea that not going means ‘they’ (the terrorists) will have won. Rather, the real reason to go is that if we don’t, we give in to our own primal fears, the very ones that, when fed by anger, poverty, disenfranchisement, and isolation, literally and figuratively explode. It’s fear that drives us to retreat to an us-versus-them stance that arrogantly ignores our common connection.”

Here are 5 reasons you should travel fearlessly:

1) Culture

Every culture around the world contributes to our human heritage and collective future. When you encounter a culture that is different from your own, you may find yourself amazed, confused, inspired, intrigued or captivated. And when you find commonalities between a new culture and your own—while you are participating in this new culture firsthand—it is far more impactful than hearing about it from someone else.

Experiencing other customs, hearing other languages, viewing different styles of art and architecture, learning about religion, geography and climate—exploring culture through travel involves all of these things and more.

Generally speaking, these are the things that make travel worthwhile. These are the elements of civilization that educate us to think comparatively and with empathy about the diversity of the human experience. It also helps us appreciate our own culture when we learn different ways people experience and think about life in many parts of the world.

2) Friendship

Getting to meet new people and build friendships is a big reason to travel fearlessly. These relationships enrich our understanding of cultures and customs regionally and give us added perspective when thinking about world events.

Friendships made while traveling are often very meaningful with a strong feeling of connection. Because interactions across cultures involve exploring differences and comparing similarities—with a great deal of trust, compassion and honesty—the friendships you make as a result can be very strong.

Connecting on a personal level to someone from another part of the world is a great way to discover the best travel tips and get an idea of what life is really like in other places. Plus, you get to share your story and experiences with others.

3) Knowledge

If you give it a chance, the world provides countless sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and activities to explore. You can see and experience things you may only have read about before; you can taste and explore things you may never have heard of before. Traveling opens up this world of opportunity and educational benefits beyond measure.

Whether you are traveling for work or pleasure, to study or to volunteer, doing these things in a new environment, culture, or language will teach you skills and lessons you’ll take with you long past the end of your trip. You’ll find that much of this knowledge comes through adapting to change.

Travel challenges cause you to think on our feet, to be resourceful, to negotiate, to accept compromise, and understand that there may be more than one way to achieve a desired outcome. This flexibility to face challenges is a valuable skill that will come in handy in both your personal and professional life.

4) Self-discovery

Your travel interactions: experiencing new cultures, having fun, dealing with challenges and complications, trying new things, getting to know diverse people and ways of thinking, etc., will teach you so much about the world, but most importantly, you’ll learn about yourself. Traveling is an exhilarating way to develop self-acceptance and get to know yourself better.

Outside of our normal frame of reference, we can really identify the things we like and don’t like. Traveling instills confidence to overcome nerves, to face fears and to see a challenging situation as an opportunity for improvement. Sometimes, being outside your comfort zone through travel is just the thing you need to get out of a rut, find your inspiration, and try something you’ve always wanted to do but had never quite rallied to accomplish.

Common side effects of traveling are improved self-assurance and independence. You may become more patient, more tolerant or more adventurous in the way you approach life and in your understanding of yourself. It provides us the chance to think introspectively and with consideration of expanding possibilities.

5) Impact

We are all individuals, but the whole of human experience is greater than the sum of its parts. As a fearless traveler, you can help others and make a valuable contribution to the greater human collective, because sharing your own culture is as important as getting to know another. By sharing our individual experiences, we can impact perceptions and opportunities worldwide.

As travelers, we wield an amazing power to influence. As much as you will be enchanted by all that you encounter on a journey, you will be just as fascinating to people as a representative of your own cultural experience, home country, language, etc. Through personal diplomacy, you become an ambassador to people anywhere you travel.

You can make a lasting impression when you help people from other parts of the world gain an understanding of where you come from. And when you return home or travel to other places, sharing your travel stories with friends, family and colleagues can expand their understanding of other cultures—even if they’ve never left their hometown. Who knows? You may inspire others to become fearless, too!

So, find your opportunities to travel fearlessly—and make the most of them. Volunteer, study, work and explore your way around the world to discover the fearless global citizen you were always meant to be.