There are many benefits to travel. Some are trivial like picking up souvenirs at a fraction of what you would have to pay here in the States or getting a good tan. However, there are very significant rewards to be reaped by travelers.
Travel allows for the fleshing out of ones education and knowledge. A person can read about the Chinese invasion of Tibet. At that level, one can understand what that means to the Tibetan people and culture: over a million dead, six thousand monasteries and nunneries destroyed, and moving massive numbers of Chinese to Tibet to dilute the Tibetan culture. Even though one has mastered those facts, one can't truly comprehend what the takeover of Tibet really means unless one sees it firsthand.
Beyond fleshing out of ones education, travel allows for further growth in that one can draw relevant parallels to other times and places. For example, I rail against the Chinese taking over Tibet. However, seeing the anguish and suffering in the eyes of Tibetans, I also understand more clearly the parallels with our society and how America treated Native Americans as we moved west. Also, I found it interesting that many Native Americans, especially the Navaho, looking strikingly similar in facial features to the Tibetans.
Travel adds an emotional aspect to book learning. It personalizes the abstract by making it concrete. When I talk about my philosophy of education, I tell my students that they come into the world with a butterfly net consisting of a pole with only a few threads making up the net. As a result, most of our experiences and learning pass through without being caught. As we grow in those first few months and years, we continuously add threads to the net. A liberal arts education is for me the process of acquiring and weaving more and more threads together so that we will pick up ever-increasing amounts of learning. As we do, we begin the laborious process of accumulation of knowledge. Travel provides golden opportunities to add threads to our net.
Travel also fleshes out ones Weltanschauung by providing authenticity to what has been gleaned from books. For example, I "knew" about poverty and disease in India. You also have a mental picture of the poverty and resultant disease in that part of the world. You have read about or seen it on television. However, when I say the word, "leper," those who have traveled to South Asia really "know" what it means. I spent a week in Dharamsala, India, hoping to get an interview with the Dalai Lama. During that brief time, I saw more lepers begging for money than all the pictures that I have seen in books or on TV. When those poor lepers approach you with withered limbs, it adds a dimension to your personal encyclopedia of knowledge that can only be acquired by being there.
Travel is to knowledge what spices are to food. Travel brings out the full favor of book knowledge thus creating true knowledge of places, people, and culture. Having set foot on all the continents except for Antarctica, I have gained greatly from my travels. However, I'm overwhelmed by the fact that I have seen but a fraction of the world and therefore have many more threads to add to my butterfly net.