What Have Years Of Travel Done For Me? Well, You Should Have Known Me Before!

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Photo of by Anjali Chawla

Traveling shouldn't be an escape or distraction or just a vacation. One should travel for travel’s sake. I believe, travel is the single most important thing everyone should be doing.

Travel does more than what you think it could do. It changes you completely without you making any effort. It opens your eyes and heart.

This world is an amazing place, so how couldn’t we become more amazing by seeing more of it! it’s a beautiful experience that no book can bring.

As cliché as it may sound, but I really think that over the years travel has helped me become a better person…I’ve learned a lot just by traveling. I’m absolutely a different person than I was few years ago. I’ve definitely evolved as a person. And I love the person I’ve become. Kudos to travel!

There is no doubt that we are all on our own personal journey to become the best people we can be in this life. For me, traveling and self-growth are connected.

I got a good education and had great teachers and professors in school and college who satiated my desire to keep learning. But, nothing beats the practical learning. What does that mean? Well, simply put, that experience is the best education! Okay. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that travel equals or replaces education. It is not an antidote for ignorance and it is no replacement for curiosity. But, traveling certainly supplements your education.

The more I traveled, the more aware I became of the fact that traveling supplemented my education in a way that textbooks and classroom learning just simply could not. Traveling helps you rediscover your sense of awe. No matter how much you’ve read about them, there’s nothing like actually seeing the Grand Canyon or the Colosseum.

Travel tests you and eventually, shapes you.

I’ve learned lessons I don’t think would have taken hold in me if I hadn’t experienced them while traveling and exploring. I grow and improve from my travel experiences. Somehow, travel has become a way of life for me, as natural as breathing.

Ticking off cities, countries, passport stamps and experiences off our travel bucket list is joyful, but that’s only half of it. The other, more important half, are the lessons learned.

I haven’t traveled as much as others have but so far, these are the lessons I have learned from my traveling experience.

I’ve learned –

* To face my fears and try new things without being scared.

* To adjust and become more adaptable.

* To practice respect for others.

* To notice and value things worthwhile to others even if they ain’t necessarily valuable to me.

* To be confident and independent.

* To communicate effectively.

* To not put off my dreams indefinitely. Live my dreams now. Yes, It’s now or never! Be proactive. As they say, “Good things come to people who wait, but better things come to those who go and get them.” Don’t wait around.

* To plan constructively and carry them out as effectively as possible.

* That sometimes it’s okay not to plan and let things go with the flow. Because sometimes, just sometimes, you end up missing out on the best experiences because you over plan things. I have started believing in the magic of embracing the chaos and uncertain. Remember, no amount of planning is enough! Accept flexibility and adaptability as a way of travel. Roll with the bumps. Yeah, times when things don’t go according to plan while traveling, always look at the brighter side.

* To read maps effectively and not get lost in a new place. People who know me well know that I was awful with directions. Traveling helped me improve this weakness.

* To be patient. Utterly calm, gentle and tolerant.

* History and the geography of places I’ve visited; which I dreaded studying during my school years. I now spend a good deal of time poring over atlases.

* To appreciate the diversity and taste the flavors that world and life@large has to offer.

* To appreciate and know different cultures, people, food, architecture,landscape, music and vernacular, customs, beliefs, religions, linguistics, anthropology and antiquities…and so much more. Differences are what make life interesting.

* To develop new perspectives and possibilities.

* To appreciate all the little things in life and acknowledge life’s simple pleasures that are often overlooked e.g. having home cooked food, clean clothes in the wardrobe, comfort of home, love and warmth of near ones. These things may sound a little ridiculous but those who have traveled will know exactly what I mean.

* To not take any of it, even the bad days, for granted.

* To always smile and be nice to strangers even if I have a darn good reason not to be and try to appreciate and accept a compliment from a stranger without being suspicious every time. Traveling makes you compassionate, considerate and humble. I’ve learned to talk to strangers even though it was contradictory to what my mother told me. I was a shy person but when I started traveling; I had no choice but to talk to complete strangers. I have understood that the sheer best way to get to know a place is to talk to anyone and everyone you meet while traveling. They teach you something or the other thing.

* To appreciate and nurture my love for reading.

* To never judge someone based on their appearance or ethnicity or whatever that I don’t fully understand. “There’s a story behind every person and there’s a reason why they are the way they are. Think about that before you judge someone.” It just makes sense.

* That first impressions can be deceptive. Very misleading, superficial and wrong.

* To develop skills I didn’t know I had.

* To budget productively and never be timid to ask for a bargain.

* To pack like a pro.

* To make quick decisions and decide what’s important and what’s not.

* That I can’t please everyone. No matter how hard you try, there will always be someone who disagrees with you, and there is nothing you can do about it. I’ve learned to focus my energy on doing what I love and shun the trolls that get me down.

* To track a swindle and to trust my intuition above anything or anyone else. I have become more observant and aware of my surroundings.

* To teach in a fun way to my daughter.

* To write. Over the years, I’ve found I do some of my best thinking when I’m traveling. Long train, plane and bus journeys leave me just enough time to unwind, and reflect. It inspires me to write my experiences. Traveling gives me real cool stories! So, in a way traveling makes me interesting ????

* To laugh more, smile more and be happier.

* To have better relationships with my family, friends and relatives.

* To be less materialistic.

* To prioritize things and people; recognize people who will be in my life forever, no matter the distance and save myself from the trouble by removing toxic people from my life.

* To be alone and still not feel lonely. Loneliness eventually becomes your best friend.

* To appreciate and value a haven called Home. I miss life back home when traveling. We are blind not to see things when they are in our face and take them for granted. Being away has a way of making us see them again, value them and hopefully, come back home to them and keep our eyes open!

* That sometimes travel can be a perfect solution to many of my problems.

* That sometimes, even in a new and exotic place, there is nothing better than staying in reading a book.

* To have boundaries; at the same time, honor and respect people’s space and boundaries.

* To believe in my abilities and strengths and overcome my limitations and weaknesses.

* To never compare myself with others. Travel has helped me find my own path in life, and no matter how many people are out there, we all are on our own unique journeys.

* To be curious and keep an open mind and heart.

* To indulge my case of wanderlust.

* To value time. It keeps ticking. So, enjoy the moment and take a few less photos but make more memories. Spend a lot less time gazing into phone but have less screen time and more hands-on time.

* That there’s no right way to travel or love or write or live a life.

* To survive…life. To live…life. To love…life.

Traveling helps me becoming a global citizen of the world and well-rounded human being. I love not where I go or what I do, but who I become when I travel.

Some of these lessons may seem absurd and evident, but life is a work in progress. We are far from being done learning lessons as travelers or human beings. There is much more that I must have learnt! And I will continue to learn throughout my life. Traveling inspires a Love of Learning!

The list can go on and on because I think traveling is one of the best ways to learn but don’t just take my word for it. Words could never describe the charm and tickle of actual travel. Go explore, live, and discover! There are literally a lot of stories out there waiting for you to live them!

What have you learnt from traveling and how has it changed you?