It’s been over 20 years since I first geared up to travel on my own. My desire for adventure and my intense curiosity of the world drove me to hike the peaks and valleys of the Andes, brave the winter waves of the Pacific and get lost among millions of other tourists in some of the largest cities in the world. It excited me to visit someplace new and even though I once used traveling as a form of escape, as I grew older it became more like therapy for the soul. As I turn the page to 2017, I look back and reflect about what I learned from traveling this year and added them to the growing list of wisdom that I hope to someday pass on to my kids.
What I Learned From Traveling?
That Sometimes It is About the Journey and Not the Destination
I recently went on a seven-hour road trip to South Carolina with a friend and though the final destination was novel to me, that trip was really more about the journey. For the first time in as many years, where I was going didn’t matter because what I learned from traveling the road on this trip was that it was simply enough for me just to be there. No plans, no agenda. It was all about going with the flow.
That It’s Ok to Share My Life With Strangers
Most of my travels have been on my own. It just worked out better that way and frankly, I didn’t mind one bit but as wisdom might have it, what I learned from traveling solo all those years is that it’s ok to share my life with strangers sometimes. My cynical self had to digress and let go of the thought that grabbing a bite to eat, chatting about my interests and exchanging pleasantries about each other’s worldly experiences is just a natural part of traveling. In fact, you can even say that the whole idea of sharing your life with others is what drives most people to the idea of travel itself.
That There Are Still a Lot I Have Yet to Learn
One of the reasons that keep me motivated to travel is the thought of learning something new. That is because what I learned from traveling all those years is that despite the mileage I’ve accumulated and stamps collected on my passport, I still have a lot to learn. Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to things and people that are unfamiliar. It can be overwhelming at times, but learning something new every time for me, is half the fun.
That Traveling Can Be More Fun With a Partner in Crime
I’ve spent many years traveling solo and for the most part, I enjoyed every bit of it. It’s liberating to be able to do what you want, when you want, without having to worry about the needs of other people you’re traveling with. However, the downside to that is I didn’t have someone immediate to share key moments with. Even though I’ve grown accustomed to sharing my life with strangers, what I learned from traveling is that having a travel buddy and a partner in crime can be more fun.
Some of my best travel memories include the most mundane instances, but because I got to laugh it off with my friends, it elevated the experiences for me. For example, trying to escape a very eager salesman while staying in Turkey led to various shenanigans afterwards. There was also that time where I stumbled in a very un-lady like manner while creating my first snow angel somewhere in the Black Forest region in Germany. Most recently, there was that tumultuous drive in my economy rental car to the New Glarus Brewery, located in the farmlands of Wisconsin in the midst of a monsoon, that proved to be tolerable because my friend and I, to cope with nervousness, simply told weather jokes all throughout the drive.
That It’s an Avenue to View Life From a Different Perspective
There’s no doubt in my mind that I will not be the person I am today if I didn’t travel as much as I did when I was younger. That’s because what I learned from traveling is that there’s more to life out there than what I’ve experienced thus far and that thought in itself, keeps me grounded. During the time I spent with the Amantani people in Peru, I realized that some of the things we take for granted here in the US like electricity, are considered luxury. Traveling was an opportunity for me to see my life from another person’s perspective and as a result, it helped me to better understand myself, and the people around me.