No matter the destination, it’s hard to go somewhere and not come back with a renewed perspective. Traveling provides enrichment. It opens you to see people and the world differently and ultimately realizing we’re all in this together—we’re all the same.
Getting out of your everyday norm to take in different cultural experiences is humbling and rewarding.
Some will tell you traveling is a waste of money, or that a full-fledged travel experience can only be done by people with money. I can’t disagree more. There are so many reasons to travel. Given the opportunity, I say take it, run with it, and embrace it.
He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.
There Is Never Going to Be a Perfect Time. Why Wait?
I’ll be the first to tell you: no trust fund here. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and don’t have a secret lottery stash. Limited funds don’t have to be a hindrance to pursuing your travel aspirations. You don’t have to be wealthy to travel regularly or to experience wonders close to home.
I’ve learned to follow my passion for traveling by making it a priority and working with the resources already available to me. I haven’t let limited resources or setbacks keep me from traveling and experiencing life, and neither should you.
Experiences Are So Much More Valuable Than Things
Traveling is about living, learning, discovering and getting lost in the wonder of each destination. Growing up, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d one day be in the jungles of Vietnam, roaming through the underground Củ Chi tunnels. In a country like Cambodia, exploring the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, or zip lining through the Costa Rican rainforest. Or winding through the cobblestone-filled alleyways of Italy and taking in the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean along the Amalfi Coast—a region that’s stolen my heart. (Side note: I’m convinced I’m connected to Italy in a past life. Or, who knows? Maybe a future life!)
Anyway, traveling is more than just destinations on a checklist. It’s about enrichment, getting away, relaxing, reflecting, finding balance, the cultural experiences, the distinctive landscapes and architecture, history, the people you meet, interactions with locals, and—the Holy Grail—the food!
Meet People, Make Lasting Memories
Travel brings about a connection with people. Some of the best recommendations I’ve received while on the road have come from casual interactions with locals. People are usually proud of their city/towns and are typically happy to share pointers about a neighborhood or where to get the best eats.
One of my favorite hole-in-the-wall eateries, Osteria Pepò in Florence, Italy, came from a random conversation with a local on the street. To this day, whenever I’m in Florence, I make a point to stop in for a fantastic meal—when I can get a table, of course.
It’s true of fellow travelers, too. I might be standing in line and, next thing you know, I’ve struck up a conversation with another traveler. I’ve gotten some great travel tips on things to avoid or include on my trip itinerary from people I’ve to met while on excursions.
Traveling has opened the door for me to meet and form great friendships with people from all over the world. Next time you’re on the road, at a bus stop or market or wherever don’t be afraid to start a conversation. You never know what lasting friendship you’re beginning, or where it might lead.
It’s Not All Glamorous, But…
The process of traveling and being on the road isn’t always easy, but it forces you to learn how to roll with the punches and be more patient and resourceful. You will occasionally miss that train. There will be the inevitable weather delay. You will get lost (probably a lot!). Language barriers will make communication frustrating. It will rain.
But that’s all part of the experience—and, I would venture to say, part of the fun. And, trust me, the stories you will vividly remember years from now are the ones that had an impact or where things didn’t go quite as planned.
I’ll always remember being within the Dubrovnik city walls, but what I’ll never forget is that hectic morning I missed both a prepaid ferry and a subsequent bus before eventually getting there. I chuckle at the events of that day now, but not so much then.
Or will I ever forget my first trip to Barcelona a few years ago. I had a fantastic time, but do I remember every living detail? No. Do you know what’s etched in memory? The VERY eventful (now defunct US Airways) flight from Barcelona to Miami, with engine problems mid-air.
I remember delay after delay, the coldness of the airport, horrible customer service and, once finally in the air, the announcement by the pilot indicating there were mechanical issues necessitating an emergency landing. Luckily, after a drama-filled day, we landed safely. What a day!
Or how could I ever forget being stuck on the tour from hell in the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand? (I won’t even go into that one…. The tour, the city, the treatment of tourists. Another story for another day!) But those are the stories and memories that come to the forefront years after.
There will always be challenges, especially while on the road, but there’s no point in being upset. I’ve come to realize that working through those challenges by being patient, taking things in stride and doing your best to adapt to the situation is usually the best approach. Anything else only ruins your mood, your day and simply takes away from your trip.
Opportunities to Try New Things
I can genuinely say exploring the world has been most impactful and my ultimate classroom. It has enabled me to be more independent, develop skills, and continue to learn more about myself: from getting to a new city, learning and maneuvering through the region, using public transport system, challenging myself to strenuous (yet scenic) hikes, attempting to speak the local languages, to successfully ordering meals or bargaining at local markets.
Just tasting, eating and embracing various worldly culinary flavors is a cultural education in itself. Traveling has expanded my knowledge of history and geography, helped me witness various cultural festivals and celebrations, taught me to appreciate differences, understand people and situations from different perspectives, and given me a glimpse of the world outside my daily norm.
Exploring and traveling has been one of the most rewarding and soul-gratifying life lessons. In essence, travel has helped make me a better, more well-rounded person.
Gratitude, Humility & Compassion
Traveling has helped me build character and confidence and taught me to be okay with being out of my everyday norm, embrace unfamiliarity, cherish little moments, value diversity, and appreciate my life circumstances even more.
Being on the road has taught me to be more compassionate and understand there are much bigger problems in life than losing luggage or missing a flight. Both can be rectified.
Not until I started traveling and seeing how less fortunate many are, have I truly begun to realize how much I take simple things as modern-day conveniences for granted. There are many people out there (children no less) who literally have to journey miles and miles just to obtain clean water for daily life activities.
For some, a simple pair of shoes is a luxury. It is so humbling to be around such resilience, and it has helped me become more appreciative of the life I have and opportunities afforded to me.
Appreciation for Home
The most valuable lesson I’ve gained from traveling is appreciating what I already have at home—my loved ones, for starters. While I absolutely love exploring the world beyond the confines of my city and will continue to do so as long as I can, I’ve also come to realize that I don’t have to go far to enjoy some of the benefits associated with traveling.
I can enjoy the same pleasures—diversity, history, culture, scenery—I get traveling abroad right here in my very own backyard. There is much to admire just around the corner from my home, and with a simple search, I can have an entire itinerary of adventures without hopping on a plane.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
Take the First Step
I invite you to take the first step: subscribe to the Coastlines to Skylines newsletter for travel stories, tips, and guides design to help inspire your own wanderlust.