7 Life Lessons Travel has Taught Me

March 24, 2017

Why Travel is so Important to Me (or some of the life lessons travel has taught me?)

So, what are some of the life lessons travel has taught me? Travel is WAY more than just a leisure activity to me. Yes, I love to get away from the mundane, daily stressors of everyday life, but to me, travel is something more. Travel is a part my very essence and being, and without it, I just don’t feel completely myself. And while that may be weird to some, it is normal for me. I mean, as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to travel and see what was just around the bend, so to speak. And as I got older, my desire to travel further away from home only grew.

Life lessons that travel has taught me: how to feel alive.

So, if I am to be brutally honest (and anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I try to be as honest as humanly possible), I don’t want to travel, I NEED to travel. And when I don’t travel, I feel depressed and not completely myself. The best way I can describe it (and it’s hard to describe because it’s more like a state of mind) is that it feels like I am a missing just a huge chunk of myself. Like somehow, some essential essence of my being is totally gone. And as a result, a lack of travel just leaves me feeling like an inauthentic and unfulfilled person, who is basically just a shell of her former self. And seriously, who wants to feel like that?

And it’s not just travel actually. I also need to draw and write and release my creative spirit if I want to feel understood and fully entrenched in the greater world around me. And while it may have took me a REALLY long time to figure all this out, I am glad I finally did so that I can be a kinder, happier, and more productive member of society. But such self- actualization only came as the result of my extensive travels.

Cultural differences are a beautiful thing, that’s one of the life lessons that travel has taught me.

So the more I traveled, the more I discovered about myself; who I am, what I like, the people I want to surround myself with, my dislikes, my values, my moral code, and lastly, what I want to do with my life. And many of these realizations are not small in stature but fundamental to the creation of an  essentially happy existence. However, these gargantuan discoveries were not just limited to enhancing my sense of self. My travels also unraveled, for me, some of the great mysteries of the world. As a result, I developed a better understanding of my place in the world and how I can be a better, global citizen. And I want to share some of these realizations with you so that you can understand why travel is really an essential part of the entire, human experience.

8 Life Lessons Travel Has Taught Me

  1. Appreciation for Cultural Differences – Before I started traveling, I didn’t even really understand what cultural differences were. Yes, I knew that people spoke different languages and did things a little differently around the world, like people eating with chopsticks in China, but I truly believed that most of these dissimilarities surface level. Surely, at a fundamental level, we all possessed the same values and thought in identical ways. Well, my travels have since exposed me to some of my rather naive conceptions about the world around me. Yes, we are all human and have all the same, fundamental needs, like food, shelter, love, companionship, etc., but people across the globe tend to think, act, and value things differently, depending on where they live in the world. And it’s hard to wrap your head around such a notion, until you experience it first hand. The best example I have is of the thought process of some people, who live in countries like Peru. Here, when asked if they would like $50 today or $250 tomorrow, most people would respond that they would like $50 today. At first, I completely didn’t get it.
    One of the many life lessons that travel has taught ,me: different is beautiful.

    I could not comprehend why someone would not just wait an extra day to get an extra $200. Then someone explained to meet that the people here have to live on a day to day basis and never know if tomorrow will come. Life circumstances force them to live in the now and as a result, most citizens give very little consideration towards planning the future, which is not the case in the United States. Here, whether you are saving for college or retirement or both, citizens are always planning for the future because they believe it will come. Accordingly, Americans feel the need to be prepared, financially, for whatever future comes their way. I mean, come on, we even have an AARP (American Association of Retired People) magazine so that people can make the most of their “Golden Years) magazine.Whereas in countries like Peru,  I doubt if retirement is even a tangible concept that people consider. And that’s okay because life in the United States is completely different from other cultures across the globe. But that’s exactly why travel is so important. It allows us to understand variations in cultural thought processes and comprehend why such beliefs may result in a set of behaviors that are vastly different from our own. As a result of this type of understanding, we become more tolerant and accepting of people who think and act a little differently than ourselves.

  2. How to Ask for Help – This realization is simple but is so monumentally huge to people with independent spirits, like myself. For me, I was always taught that asking for help was a sign of weakness. Instead of bothering someone with my silly questions, and embarrassing myself in the process, I should suck it up and figure out life on my own. Well, the problem with this type of mentality is that it gets pretty lonely and pretty difficult, pretty quickly. Yes, a certain level of independence is good, but not when it disconnects you from the entire human race. This mindset also doesn’t get you very far in a foreign country, that you have never been to and where you don’t speak the language. So, to survive traveling abroad, I had to learn to trust people and ask for help
    Another one of the many life lessons that travel has taught me is sometimes, I just need to ask for help; like when I was in Stockholm and couldn’t find me hostel. HELP!!!

    when I didn’t speak the language and had no idea where I was going. Essentially, travel forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to confront my own fears about exposing any “weaknesses”, by asking for help and trusting that other people would not steer me in the wrong direction. Because of this life lesson, I am now better able to connect with people and ask for help when the stressors of everyday life overwhelm me (talk about a better way of life). And it’s all just because I travel. Who knew?

  3. Go with the Flow – I used to plan EVERYTHING on my vacation, like down to the minute, except maybe bathroom breaks
    (And if I knew when those would be, I would have put that in there too. LoL.) And guess what? This strategy just made me into one of the must anxious and stressed out travelers ever. That’s because any time something went “wrong”, my whole schedule was thrown off and I just didn’t know how to cope with it. I mean, it’s the worst feeling when your flight is delayed and, as a result, you miss a really expensive tour that you booked in advance. Because of situations like this, I quickly learned that rather than plan every single moment of my trip, it was  better for me to just relax, go with the flow, and see where the wind takes me. I also try and remember that, you can’t miss what you’ve never seen. And while this philosophy may not work for some trips, and for some travelers, for me, going with the flow gives me the freedom to move at my own pace and not constantly worry about getting to the next site on my itinerary. I can actually enjoy what I’m experiencing and not just get stuck in the anxiety of the future. This perspective also reduces stress because when something goes wrong, I don’t have to worry about it since I’m not losing out on an entire schedule that has been planned and paid for. Additionally, I can also apply this philosophy to my everyday life, where I try to stay in the moment and not worry about the disasters that may or may not befall me next.
  4. A Feeling of be in the minority – I’m gonna be pretty honest here. I’m a caucasian, blonde, female from the United States. So, I am probably way more  privileged that I will ever know. But nothing made me appreciate this more than living
    This is one of those moments where I am smiling on the outside, but thinking on the inside, “Geez. Will everyone stop staring at me.” But one of the many life lessons that travel has taught me is, what being in the minority feels like.

    in South Korea. As a resident here, it was the first time in my life that I had ever really been in the minority (added bonus, I couldn’t speak the language here), and frankly, it sucked. I felt totally alone and like a complete outsider. But the beautiful thing is that, that’s when it hit me, this is probably how other people feel, who are minorities living in my home country. I mean, I will never truly understand the difficulties that many others face, but this experience did help me develop a bit more empathy. I mean it was hurtful and annoying when people would stare at me with disgust or even try to con me out of money because I didn’t speak the language. And even though this all seems pretty negative, it wasn’t. It helped me realize that how we look on the outside changes how we perceive and feel about the world, on the inside. And that is something that I could only ever truly understand as a result of travel.

  5. Appreciation for my country of  origin – Look, all countries have positive and negative attributes. That’s just a reality of life. But when you live in a country, like the United States, your entire life, the positives can become pretty hard to see. Well, nothing amplifies these positives more than traveling or living abroad. When you are abroad, you start to appreciate all the things that you normally, would take for granted. You know, the big and little things, like television shows, your bed, everyone speaking English, professional opportunities for women, your favorite protein bars, etc. It’s only when these things are gone from your life, that  you really start to miss them. You even begin to appreciate that they’re there in the first place because not every country has the same luxuries that you enjoy, (and are oblivious to) on a daily basis.
  6. Patience and Tolerance – Look, this one is pretty straight forward. No need to go on a diatribe (because we all know I LOVE to do that) here. But,  when you deal with people who think and act differently than you, on a regular basis, you learn a great deal of patience and tolerance for others (especially if they are kind enough to share that curtesy with you). Plus, when I travel, I need to reme
    An intricate part of Korean food culture is making kimchi, with your family, on a yearly basis; a ritual that helps bring families together. One of the many life lessons travel has taught me.

    mber that I not only represent myself but my entire country. And I want to represent the United states in the most positive way possible: with patience, tolerance, and compassion.

  7. The Importance of Food Culture – Before I traveled frequently, food was just food, no matter where I was in the world. Yeah, some countries seemed to have weird food (at least to me and I have since learned respect for such cultural differences)  but I just didn’t think too much about it, except, “Eww. Gross!”. But since then, I have traveled a lot more and have begun to realize that the foods  of the world are so much more than just sustenance. Yes, we need to ingest food to sustain life, but if food had no emotional soul, then global, culinary culture would not vary so widely. Because food means so much to people, and in many places is a symbol of love, honor, and respect, the evolution of food culture, around the world, has established s dynamic and vibrant food scene that needs to be appreciated for the multitude of cultural aspects that it represents. Things like climate (i.e. the foods that can be grown sustainably), religious beliefs (Cows are sacred in India so beef is not served), socioeconomic status, and historical development (perhaps the country was poor in the past and had to make small rations of food last) are all reflected in the dishes that a country serves and creates; cultural nuances that have only become obvious to me as I travel more.

girlwiththepassport

Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.

https://www.instagram.com/girlwitthepassport/
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40 Comments

  • Kate the Great 8 months ago

    great thoughts and lovely read! This is a good introduction for people who are planning to travel especially alone, to learn how to be patient, independent and open-minded!

    Kate the Great

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Thank you so much!! And I agree that these are good things to keep in mind for people traveling alone.

  • Sanne Wesselman 8 months ago

    I can so relate to this! Traveling and living abroad has taught me so much. To understand cultural differences, to be able to rely on yourself, to deal with stressful, unknown situations… It really has enriched my life! And yes, it made me appreciate my own country more as well! 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      As long as we travel and create new experiences, the amount of things we can learn is endless.

  • Katie @ The Katie Show Blog 8 months ago

    I love how open and honest you were in this post with such insightful comments. I feel like traveling is so overdone & overtalked about now but you really showed the value of travel by taking it back to the important lessons that come from it. Well done!

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Thank you so much!! i am so glad to hear that. I really try and look at things little differently because I totally agree, so many travel post and blogs are very overdone. Best to be ourselves and dare to be different!! Thanks again!

  • Cristina 8 months ago

    After I travel , I always appreciate my own back yard a lot more! And it has made me learn Italian and basic Greek. My packing skills also improved as I traveled 🙂
    Oh and one more thing: each place has at least one person who is willing to help you without asking for anything in return!

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      So true!! Those are all great points. People are much more willing to help than we think. And that is awesome that you are learning such exciting languages.

  • Nuraini 8 months ago

    I totally relate to all this. I think people should definitely travel more – but outside of their comfort zones so that they have to really think about these uncomfortable feelings and come to these realisations. Travel doesn’t do anything if it doesn’t force these reflections eventually. In the end, our positions of privilege is just true in this one moment in the long history of man, an accident of time and space.

    What you’re writing are exactly the kinds of things I sometimes have to draw up for westerners who have trouble flipping the narrative, because they’re so used to thinking there’s only one. Usually unsuccessfully. (Don’t worry, I also have to do the same for my own countrymen who can be equally terrible at clinging to a blinkered worldview).

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      LOl. My dad is like that. he gets stuck in one way of thinking and believes that there is only one right way. But the truth is that we need to learn from each other so that we can grow into better people. Travel is a beautiful thing when you can use uncomfortable feelings to transform yourself into a better version of yourself.

  • Chantell of Travel for Your Life 8 months ago

    YES YES YES to so much of this. Travel has taught me how to be so much more patient and tolerant than I ever used to be and how going with the flow can remove so much unnecessary stress. Thank you so much for sharing this, it made me so happy to read

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      So glad we are kindred spirits and can so easily relate to one another. happy that I am not the only one who thinks this way.

  • Becky Angell 8 months ago

    So true Kelly, some really great points you make and that’s why I love to travel 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Yes!! I think that’s why we all love to travel. Glad to know I’m not alone in my passion.

  • Anita 8 months ago

    Agreed, travelling is much more than sitting on a beach staring at your drink and the ocean …although that also sounds really good right about now. But it’s about experiencing the Country that you are in.

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      So true. And I feel like we need those beach vacations every once and awhile but sometimes it’s good to try and expand your mind.

  • Siddharth and Shruti 8 months ago

    How to ask for help is sometimes a really big challenge. Some things you may take for granted and seem silly to ask. Food is such an integral part of culture. We make it a point to try out the local food in each place we visit. Absolutely agree with your post. Thanks for sharing.

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Yes, sometimes my pride kicks in and I don’t want to ask for help. But I need to accept that I am in a foreign country and have no idea what I’m doing.

  • Vrithi pushkar 8 months ago

    I love your post! I truly believe Travel is the best teacher. It teaches so much about yourself. I totally get you when you said you NEED to travel. I feel the same way. Glad to know I am not the only one that feels that way.

    Vrithi Pushkar

  • Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul 8 months ago

    Travel has taught me a lot of these things too! It definitely makes you appreciate home, but also shows you what a small place you occupy in the world. Traveling is also empowering too (just to know you can figure things out on your own)!

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Travel always reminds me that a lot of times, I am way more capable and independent than i think.

  • Magda 8 months ago

    I really love it! For me the most important thing is that thanks to travel world looks No longer like a big scary place which is usually presented in media 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      So true!!! It is usually never as scary as you think it is going to be. That and people are usually a lot more helpful too!

  • Riely 8 months ago

    It’s so true that North Americans are always planning for the future never resting in the present time. I enjoy other cultures appreciation of living in the moment for the next day may never come. My Irish Grandmother taught me this. It’s great that you enjoy travelling so much.

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Yes. I think when you don’t live in the moment, you really miss out on life unfolding right before your eyes.

  • Brooke 8 months ago

    I can definitely identify with a lot of these-particularly appreciating our own home country or state more because of travel, learning what it feels like (over and over) to be the foreigner who can’t communicate gracefully or, often even effectively, and learning not to over schedule everything and take thing as they come sometimes because many of the best thing happen during those times )

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Yeah, I’m still working on taking it easy. It can be a real struggle at times.

  • Ana John 8 months ago

    These 8 lessons make you a better person and help you grow! Travel does this and this is what I love about travelling. Exploring and learning is what makes travelling worth every second spent.

  • Ana Rose | Roads and Pages 8 months ago

    I enjoyed readying your whole blog post about these things you have learned in your travel. I am a Filipina but I can relate on your views most especially on number 2. I don’t really like asking people of directions. On the other hand, my boyfriend who travels with me abroad is the opposite of my character. He would usually tell me that it is better to ask than to be stuck on where we are. I think there are still many things that I can learn from travelling.

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      I hate asking for help. I would rather just know and not bother people, but sometimes you just need help. Glad you have your boyfriend to help balance things out.

  • Sandy N Vyjays 8 months ago

    These 8 lessons make you a better person and help you grow! Travel does this and this is what I love about traveling. Exploring and learning is what makes traveling worth every second spent.

  • Gokul Raj 8 months ago

    That is really great…..traveling always gives you a new perspective of life and more than that it gives you a load of memories to cherish for a lifetime.

    • girlwiththepassport 8 months ago

      Yes!! The memories and new perspective are gifts that last a lifetime. So true. And thanks for the kind words.

  • 33andfree 8 months ago

    I love all of these. You definitely learn a lot traveling. I wish that everyone could experience what it can do to you. I am glad that you are sharing and showing people that it’s more than just seeing a location!

  • Samantha Sparrow 8 months ago

    I agree with all of these, but especially patience and tolerance – both of the places I travel to, locals, other tourists and actually many times my travelling companions! Great post which has made me think.

  • neha 8 months ago

    Definitely travel teaches us so many things. For me, your first point is the most powerful. Ever since I have started traveling a lot, I have felt the cultural differences and the similarities across them, throughout the world. And it amazes me. And at the same time makes me a better human being

  • Carmen Baguio 8 months ago

    I would have to agree with all of these statements. Travel makes me appreciate the differences in our world, but also my own hometown.

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