On the Road? 5 Things You Can Learn from Traveling
Whether you’re going on a road trip to the shore, camping in a national park, traipsing through the jungles of South America, or touring medieval castles in Europe, you can gain something significant, not to mention seriously life altering, from your experience.
As scholar Miriam Beard wrote, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” We couldn’t agree more.
Traveling, no matter what form it takes, or where it takes you, is like a gift that keeps on giving. And while its benefits are countless, here are 5 things we’ve come up with that you can gain from your various journeys:
1. Confidence: Traveling outside your community, state, or country quite literally takes you outside your comfort zone. Being in situations where you might have to do things you wouldn’t normally do – communicate in a different language, figure out another city’s public transportation, eat the local cuisine (no matter how unusual) – is a chance for you to take risks and gain the confidence to know you can handle yourself in any new situation.
2. Flexibility: No matter how well-planned your itinerary or how earmarked your Lonely Planet guidebook, wrenches are bound to be thrown into your trip. Things may cost more, trails may be closed, maps may be outdated, hotels may be unexpectedly booked. So what’s a traveler to do but go with the flow? (Sure beats the alternative of pouting the whole time because things didn’t look exactly as you expected…)
3. Perspective: There’s nothing like seeing what life is like in other parts of the world to open your eyes and give you a fresh way to look at your own situation. Whether you’re visiting a poor country where conveniences like indoor plumbing or electricity are a luxury or you’re just experiencing the different values and mores people share in other regions, you’ll undoubtedly return from your journey with a new point of view on your status quo.
4. Patience: There is scientific evidence that different cities have different “paces.” For example, Boston is much “faster” than Fresno in terms of the speed at which people move from place to place. The same goes for countries and cultures. In some cultures, running several hours late for an appointment is no biggie, while in others, you’ll lose your dinner reservation if you show up 15 minutes late. The point is, when traveling, you’re better off letting go of any expectations about how and when things should happen. And when you’re cool with letting things happen in their own good time, there’s not much to get frustrated about!
5. Mindfulness: If you want to truly be “in the moment” and make the most out of every minute of every day, there is nothing like traveling to get you there. By breaking our day-to-day routines, we are forced to notice and pay attention to how we do everything from brushing our teeth to walking down the street. When traveling, absolutely everything is new and different – sights, sounds, smells – which gives our minds a chance to soak it in and our soul a chance to recharge and slow down. Sounds good to us!
We’d love to hear your travel stories. What have you learned from a trip or vacation?