“Travel changes you.” Throughout my life this is something I’ve heard countless times. I don’t think any other activity has gained as strong a reputation for opening the mind and encouraging character growth.
I’ve learned that bad feelings are not bad.
While traveling, I have experienced a wide spectrum of emotions. Of course, these include wonder, excitement, curiosity, and inspiration. But I have also felt fear, uncertainty, annoyance, discomfort, and boredom.
And where do you think my best stories come from? When do you think I came home feeling more resilient or more experienced?
When we spent a night homeless and exhausted in a cold Icelandic bus station.
When I was robbed and ill in Tanzania.
Now, whether I’m home or somewhere out in the unfamiliar, I say yes to more experiences. Whether they are “good” or “bad,” I know I will be thankful for them in the end.
I’ve found comfort in knowing that I can ALWAYS adapt.
Unexpectedly, I’ve learned to love the frustrating struggles we encounter with each new country.
It’s satisfying and empowering when something that seemed challenging – chopsticks and squat toilets in China, dressing modestly in the desert heat of Oman, over-the-top spicy food in Thailand, communicating with only charades and body language – finally becomes normal and natural.
I’ve accepted that my journey will never be finished.
When I first started traveling, I remember thinking that it would only take a handful of trips overseas to feel as if I had “seen the world.” One or two stops in each continent, and I could claim my title of World Traveler™. Then that always persistent, painfully expensive travel itch would disappear and I’d be ready to find an easier, cheaper, less time-consuming obsession.
But that’s not what happened.
I’ve now accepted that I will probably never be happily rooted to one place, and I’ve learned that the world offers way more variety than I’d ever thought.
A 2-week trip to Asia won’t scratch Asia off the list. Myanmar is vastly different from the Philippines, which is vastly different from Vietnam — and a quick visit to any country will never give me a real grasp on its culture.
The world is best explored slowly and thoroughly, and I now believe I’ll always want to do just that.
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