(Part 2 in a 2 part travel series. Click here for part 1.)
In my last post, I discussed real life lessons learned from traveling with my family. For me, traveling is a necessity of life. I know some people will say that it is a luxury, but I want to challenge that belief.
As a child, vacation always meant traveling to a different location, such as Florida (a common spot for Ohioans), California, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, even Australia (to meet my grandmother’s family). My family was not rich, but travel was a priority.
Flying on a plane is as natural to me as tying my shoe. Furthermore, the airport still holds a sense of excitement every time I go. We didn’t have fancy cars or an expensive house, but we always managed to go somewhere on vacation. I truly appreciate that and realize how blessed I was.
We didn’t travel to the most luxurious resorts, but it didn’t matter. What was important was experiencing a new place with interesting people. As I got older and was able to work, I helped fund some of these trips, including my high school trip to France. That was a life-changing trip that really gave me the travel bug. I realized there was a whole world out there to explore.
Since then, I have been fortunate enough to visit five continents and my husband has been to all seven (a bonus of flying for the Air Force)! As a family, we plan to see so much more of this amazing world we live in. I look forward to sharing adventures in other regions with my girls and teaching them these lessons learned from traveling. I don’t take any of it for granted and truly value the experiences I have had and those to come.
More lessons learned from traveling
1) You can’t control everything in life- Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Luggage gets lost, planes are delayed, connections are missed. On a return trip from Greece, my husband and I were stuck in a huge line at customs and missed our connection to home. We ended up on different flights from each other, but eventually made it home.
We could have chosen to get completely stressed out, but we just had to trust that things would work out, especially since we couldn’t change things anyway. You can’t always control a situation, but you can control your reaction to a situation and choose to remain calm.
2) People deserve to be treated with compassion and kindness– No matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, beliefs or nationality. We all have the same goals of raising our children to be healthy and productive, having a home with food on the table and trying to thrive in the process. It doesn’t matter if you’re from France, Italy, Japan or the US. People are not as different as they seem.
I realized this during our recent RV trip, as I walked through the campground and heard the many different languages spoken. However, in spite of their differences, the families were very similar in going through their tasks of preparing dinner, washing dishes, playing, sitting by the campfire and just living. We are all in this world together.
That doesn’t mean you have to sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya with your neighbors, but maybe be a little more understanding and patience when you see another mother struggling with her screaming child in the grocery store. Or take that extra step and see if she needs any help!
3) Don’t wait to do something– You might not have tomorrow. I don’t say that to be pessimistic, because I’m a natural optimist, but also realistic. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, no matter how much we plan. Your entire life can change in the blink of an eye from an accident or a sudden heart attack or stroke.
Therefore, if you have a dream to visit Hawaii or start your own ice cream shop (by the way, I’m fully trained as an ice cream flavor tester, just saying), develop a plan to accomplish that dream now, not tomorrow or next week. NOW.
4) Traveling is the best learning experience– I fully appreciate the hard-working teachers who educate my children. They have my full respect for all that they do. However, there is no comparison between learning about the ancient Greeks in a book and actually seeing the real sculptures and artifacts of the Parthenon in Athens.
Furthermore, it’s difficult to comprehend how the mind-boggling water pocket fold of Capitol Reef National Park was formed without seeing and feeling the layers of rock there. Some things can’t be absorbed from a book and need to be visualized with all five senses. Plus, travel instills a true love of learning that can’t be matched in the classroom.
I still get butterflies thinking about when my husband and I visited Rome and walked up the steps of the metro station and saw the awe-inspiring Colosseum right there in front of us. No history book can describe that feeling.
5) A person who travels will be more confident in life– The trials, challenges and skills that inevitably accompany travel will change your perspective on the day-to-day tasks of life. You will realize that, after successfully completing the difficult hike to see the beautiful glacier, that work presentation really isn’t anything to be afraid of.
In addition, planning a cross country road trip with multiple stops has fully given you the confidence to organize that school bake sale that you were wrangled into. You accept that you can actually accomplish a lot more than you give yourself credit for. No seminar or online self-help course can come close to providing that faith in yourself like traveling can.
6) Traveling always changes the traveler– This is one of the most important of all lessons learned from traveling. Maybe you learned how water formed the Grand Canyon or how to paddleboard. Perhaps a friendly stranger on the subway helped you find the correct line to take and made you realize that the big city isn’t so scary. You might come back more open-minded about different ethnicities.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on a weekend trip to a small bed and breakfast or a month long trip overseas. You. Will. Come. Back. Different. Period.
Have I inspired you to start traveling or to travel more? I hope so, because there is an entire world to be explored and new memories just waiting to be created.
If you have any other lessons learned from traveling, please leave them in the comments section. I would also love to hear about your favorite locations and travel stories. So get out there and start your journey!
“Traveling is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”