I’m often told how lucky I am that I’m able to travel as much as I do.
The truth is that it’s not luck, but it’s my desire to see the world that is so strong. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
For a few years now, I have made it my mission to visit as many places as I can, as often as I’m able to. I’ve learned some invaluable lessons along the way.
Cotton candy sunsets, white sandy beaches, and intricate architecture dating back thousands of years are just some of the many picturesque images we’re inundated with on social media. What’s seldom shown or talked about are the cancelled flights, missed buses and trains, arguments with travel partners, or the illnesses that confine us to our hotels for days.
My favourite quote by the wonderful Anthony Bourdain sums up the beauty and the madness that is travel:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
This is what I love the most about travel—and life in general. You never know what’s around the corner, and that’s what makes it so exciting. There will always be ups and downs—it’s how we cope during these times that make us who we are.
Here are eight important lessons that travel has taught me over the years:
1. To embrace the unknown. I’m no longer afraid to try something that is out of my comfort zone. Whether I’m hiking a mountain, trying new foods, or meeting strangers—I have learned to quiet my mind and be in the present moment. It’s an ongoing process, but I know the outcome is always worth it.
2. You will always find people who are kind. It’s easy to draw on past experiences that haven’t been pleasant and to judge others before we really get to know them. I believe that we attract what we put out into the universe; so be kind, and you will be pleasantly surprised who shows up.
3. You’re never alone. I often travel on my own, but I am seldom alone. There is always someone we can talk to, we just have to be open to it. Life is all about the connections we make, so be the first person to smile and say hello.
4. Travel is not always easy. Life in general has plenty of ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and travel is much the same. You will experience a range of emotions and will be uncomfortable at times. This is all part of the journey, and you can’t appreciate the good without the bad. Make sure to feel all of it—the joy, the pain, the laughter, and the tears.
5. To be grateful. I constantly remind myself that as long as I have a roof over my head, a warm bed, and food to eat—I’m incredibly fortunate. Traveling enables us to cross paths with people from all walks of life. People who we wouldn’t otherwise have the privilege of meeting. I’ve met those who have far less than myself—who would give you the shirt off their back, even if it was the only one they owned. Travel will humble you and really make you appreciate what you have.
6. We are all the same. We all have the potential to be kind, decent human beings. We are all somebody’s child, parent, sibling, or friend—and we are all capable of loving another human being. We are all looking for our purpose here on earth, as well as our own version of happiness and what that means to us.
7. To be patient. When you’re traveling or living abroad, it’s inevitable that things won’t go as planned from time to time. I’ve stressed over finding a place to live or not finding a job right away, but in the end, everything always works out the way it’s meant to. I’ve learned how to trust my gut and allow things to fall into place.
8. To be confident. I truly feel that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. Travel has taught me how to solve problems and to be independent. I am no longer that painfully shy girl I once was, and when something goes wrong, I accept that it’s just part of the adventure.
Just like life, travel isn’t perfect. It’s not meant to be. It is meant to teach you what you need to learn, when you need to learn it.
Travel has changed me. More than I ever thought it could. I am a different person today than I was a year ago, and I will be a different person next year. My values will always stay the same, but my experiences are constantly shaping me and enabling me to grow as a person. I’ve laughed until my sides hurt, cried until I couldn’t cry anymore, said goodbye to countless old friends and hello to countless new ones.
I wouldn’t change any of it.
I’m the person that I am today because of it.
Do yourself a favour and live your passion. Let it change you. Let it challenge you. Accept it all. The good, the bad, and everything in between.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver
Author: Lauren F
Image: Unsplash; Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina