I have learned more about myself traveling than I ever have going about my day-to-day life. There is a thrill in going to a new place and figuring it all out for yourself. So for your reading pleasure, I have provided a list of what I have learned about myself while exploring the world.
How Patient I Can Be
I only have patience for small children and the elderly. Anyone in between needs to get it together. However, travel makes me slow down, embrace the experience and not get so worked up about long lines and wait times. I’ve learned that people aren’t purposely trying to make your day longer, it’s just the circumstances of the day. Also, I understand what is in my control and what isn’t. Freaking out about a situation isn’t going to change anything so ….WHATEVER!
Think On My Toes
Decisions, Decisions…. Prior to any trip I do my homework. What is there to do? Where will I stay? What do I want to do? Once I get those answered and I arrive, a whole new set of questions are waiting to be answered. What am I going to eat? How do I buy a subway ticket? Where is the door to my building (asked more times than I’d rather admit)? Traveling involves making loads of decisions and many times you need to decide fast. When my flight to Washington Dulles was delayed, some quick thinking and a lot of smiling got me seat on an earlier flight going to Washington National. Think fast and you can save yourself a lot of time… and money.
Pack Like A Pro
I DO NOT CHECK BAGS!!! After a trip to L.A. where I brought too
much and spent way too long attaching bags for transport, I was finished with the checking of the bags. I later went to Rio de Janeiro for a week with only a carry-on suitcase and a handbag. Even then, I didn’t wear everything but it was so much easier to get around and decide what to wear. Confession: I get a smug look on my face when I deplane and head straight for ground transportation while everyone else is searching for the correct baggage claim belt.
Talk To Strangers
I was raised to be a social butterfly. My parents are the type of people who have never met a stranger and they passed that trait down to me. I didn’t understand the power of this attribute until I got older and ventured out into the world. I like to ask locals about where I should go and what I should definitely experience. Taxi drivers and hotel staff are a wonderful source, but there is something about talking to complete strangers at the table next to you and gaining a new perspective. Yes, your parents have always told you to never talk to strangers, but you are an adult now. Time to make your own decisions.
Mentally Convert Currency
I’m not a math genius, but I can do a quick money conversion. Yes, I could use my phone app and find out exactly what something is costing me, but I don’t rely on my phone at all when I travel. Also, a nice shiny smart phone makes you look like you have more money to spend. We all know how much we would pay for a meal, a scarf or an experience and by doing a quick conversion, I know if I am getting a good deal or not.
Take Advantage Of My Surroundings
This is what I look like at the end of the day or whenever I get back to my room. I maximize my time because I can rest when I get back home. I’m not super on the go, dashing from place to place and not really enjoying myself, I just like to stay busy. Sometimes my “busy” is playing on the beach for an entire afternoon. Sometimes I am wine tasting or simply walking around but I am always doing something. Hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts are all the same, but what’s going on outside those walls is unlike what you can do in your hometown. I probably should get more sleep, but I’m out somewhere meeting people or taking pictures.
Respect the Differences of People and Cultures
I am 1 of 7 billion. That’s a lot of different personalities, beliefs, habits and preferences. Each country has their own culture and as a visitor, it is important to respect it. Cultures can determine the outward appearance of a person, but while it may not be something I would normally do or wear, I am fascinated by the local norms. When visiting mosques in Istanbul, it is customary for women to wear clothing that covers the head, shoulders, and knees. Out of respect, I obliged. As the saying goes, when in ________(insert place), do as they do!
I truly believe the harder you work on a plan, the more the plan will not work. Things will happen. Flights will be delayed. Rooms will not look like they did in the picture. People will be rude. Look hard and you will find the good in the situation. My trip to Paris was one of the funniest (in retrospect) adventures I’ve ever had that involved running across the Louvre to catch a bus that was no longer running, getting very lost and living off of cheese crackers. Even when all of this was happening, my friend and I continued to laugh and have a good time. You can’t let a Parisian experience go to waste. The weird circumstances have to end at some point and regardless of what happens, you will have an amazing story to share.
The Beauty In Disconnection
I’m not one of those people who are attached to their phone. There is so much more to experience in life than my email, text messages and social media posts. When I travel, I use my phone even less and sometimes don’t even take it with me. I could blame it on the fact that I don’t invest in international plans but it’s really that I’m busy enjoying my surroundings. I use apps to make phone calls, but only via wi-fi when I’m in my room. Aside from that, everyone will see my pictures and hear the stories when I get home.
Disclaimer: I make conscious decisions of everything I do. With that being said, there are few things I won’t try at least once. Recognize the danger in an opportunity and weigh that against what your instincts are telling you. At least once on any given trip, I will ask myself “why not?” or “what the hell am I about to do” but I have never regretted a decision. I have stepped outside my comfort zone so many times that I’m not sure if it’s still there. I will try a weird smelling and looking food (I still don’t know what I ate), attempt to speak a language I know very little about and go on a solo vacation where I don’t know anyone (something everyone should do). These experiences have made me a stronger and more carefree person. I understand myself more and continue to realize what I’m capable. My motto: Be smart but be fearless.
I hope you have enjoyed my life lessons that traveling has taught me. Now it’s your turn. What have you learned about yourself while experiencing the world?