There were two major changes that took place in Europe that had the most profound effect on the desire for exploration. The most important was a new way of thinking that grew out of the Renaissance movement. Europeans believed they should test the limits of human capability and explore the unknown. This was demonstrated in art, science, writing, and economics. This innovative way of thinking affected the desire to explore as well. Europeans believed in empirical curiosity during this time and saw the seas as a new adventure to explore. This curiosity was further inspired by the work of Marco Polo and the travels of the Crusaders into Asia.
The Renaissance movement also saw a wealth of technological achievement. The maritime technological advances were a very important change that allowed for exploration into the Americas. The biggest development was in the engineering of ships. Europeans started to make ships that had two sails with the second sail allowing for travel against the wind. In addition to the second sail, new designs for the hull allowed mariners to travel through storms. Improvements in navigation included the use of a magnetic compass, the astrolabe, and better maps.
With these two dramatic shifts in Europe, explorers could travel the oceans for gold, God, and glory.