I haven’t traveled much in my life, but I have done it enough to learn some valuable lessons. I only hope to travel more so I can learn more.
1. The world is not as bad as they told you
I’ve always been taught, whether it was directly or indirectly, that the world is a dangerous place. People aren’t trustworthy, and everyone in a foreign country is actually a bad guy straight out of Taken.
But believe it or not, there are actually nice people in this world – people like me and you who want to be helpful. I’ve had a woman I met on a plane take me into her home for the night in Nairobi, Kenya, and give me a place to sleep as well as a ride to the airport the next morning. Then there were the two Iranian men my friend and I met at 1 a.m. in London who helped us find the nearest bus stop so we could get home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people like them who have come to my rescue and required no more than a ‘thank you.’
2. You are a student
You can never know too much, especially when it comes to the world and its many peoples. I know very little. I am merely a student eager to learn. Always be willing to learn.
You are both a student and a teacher. This summer in London, the kids were always fascinated with my being an American. They never ceased to run out of questions. When you go somewhere, people will always be intrigued by your differences. Be ready to share and be proud to teach the world about where you come from.
4. You’re capable of more than you thought
A few years ago I had no idea what I was capable of. I didn’t know I could travel across the world at 18 years old completely by myself and survive a Turkish airport on the way where no one spoke English. I didn’t know I could spend a summer by myself in the Kenyan countryside adapting to a new culture and language either.
I always doubt myself. I either think I’m not good enough or not ready. But every time I’ve been thrown into a situation, I’ve come out on the other side smarter and stronger. The only way to find out what you’re capable of is to jump.
5. The world is a big place, and you’re not at the center
The world does not center around you! There are seven billion people on this planet each with stories, families, friends and worlds of their own. It puts into perspective your everyday troubles.
The world is a grand place. You might discover this while you wonder at the vastness of the ocean or when you gaze down at the people below you from the top of the Eiffel Tower or when a woman invites you into her hut in a Kenyan slum to say thank you for helping her. The world is full of beauty, and you will get just a taste of that when you travel.
In the grand scheme of things, the little things don’t matter as much. That bad day you’re having will soon be overshadowed with good days. Whenever I would miss a bus or forget to book a hotel, I had to remind myself that I couldn’t let the small things get to me. Because when it’s all said and done, those little things can serve a better purpose in the big picture. I can either let them ruin me or push me forward and let them serve as laughable moments along the journey.
7. An appreciation for home
I’m a bit of a homebody. I enjoy sitting on the couch and watching a movie with my family. I spend most of my time with them so every time I leave them it’s hard. As much fun as I had traveling this summer, I missed my family. But it makes you appreciate them all the more when you come home.
8. Things are not always black and white
Most of the time, it’s clear which choices are wrong and right, or so I’ve been told. When you travel, things aren’t so cut and dry. When you talk to people from different backgrounds and cultures you realize things aren’t as simple as you once thought they were.
It challenges you to think deeper about what you truly believe. It’s one of the harder aspects of traveling, but you come out a stronger person more confident in yourself and your beliefs.
9. Beauty is found in diversity
Man, did I stand out in Kenya. I practically glowed plus I was from America, a completely different culture from the one there. But the kids loved that, and I loved that they were from somewhere different than me. Could you imagine how dull the world would be if everyone looked the same, spoke the same language and had the same culture?
Our differences are what make us beautiful.
Alright, so I may have stolen this line from Gandalf, but it sums up my point perfectly. I love learning about the world, but the world cannot be contained to my phone screen or a piece of paper hanging on my wall. I can read all I want about it, but there comes a time when I actually need to step out my front door and see it for myself.
What are some things you have learned from traveling? Or maybe even things you hope to learn?
And if you’re not already, make sure to follow me on Instagram for more travel photos and stories like these!