Growing up, I was always taught experiences were more important than things. My parents worked hard so we could spend time as a family on vacations. One of the many ways I plan to follow in their footsteps. Things and items get old, outdated, and may break down while experiences and memories are timeless.
From family vacations to my own trips, here are the three main things I learned from traveling:
1. Always Keep Learning
I’ll admit, this is something my parents originally taught, but traveling instilled this sentiment into me. The biggest reason behind my extreme wanderlust is that I love culture, and traveling teaches me so much about others’ cultures and how they live their lives. You don’t have to go to another country to experience this! The culture in our own country is so diverse from California to New Jersey, to the deep south, and, of course, my beloved Midwest. Each section and state even has their own quirks.
Of course, this thought goes beyond learning about culture, too. You can learn other languages, a new art style, cake decorating, sewing, knitting…. just to name a few. You just can’t be lazy! I know what you’re thinking, too… “I can’t afford this” or “I don’t like sitting in a classroom.” Newsflash… There are cheap and free options out there. YouTube has a plethora of creators sharing their content, as well as how they’ve gained their knowledge. I’ve been dabbling in learning sign language from YouTube, and it’s been wonderful. In other cases, a book can suffice. Barnes & Noble has a multitude of “_______ for Dummies.” There’s a video online or a book out there with the knowledge you’re looking for!
2. The World is a Big Place
Sure, everyone knows this, but rarely do we stop to actually think about this. We’re always so absorbed in our own life and even miniscule problems; we forget that the world is a bigger place than it seems. As I type this sentence, it’s 8:45pm on Thursday. In Hawaii, it’s 4:45pm; they’re probably close to ending their work day. In Berlin, Germany, it’s almost 4am… Friday. One thing I always thought when I was younger, at any time of the day, there are people celebrating a birthday, people getting married, people dying, people giving birth…. just this day or just as you’re reading this sentence. Worldometers is an interesting website, it gives you similar statistics that’s happening in real time. It shows you how many births are happening each second and how many deaths. You can see the number of tweets, blog posts, and Google searches that are being sent out each second… I’m seeing millions and billions here.
After meeting people in the countries I’ve visited and learning their lifestyles, it’s interesting to think about what they’re doing while I’m back home. When you realize and actively remember how enormous this planet really is, you’ll a lot of our daily problems are small and insignificant. Don’t worry about burning dinner or that jerk on the highway, by tomorrow it won’t even matter.
3. Take Things Slow
Traveling has taught me to take things slow. Pictures are a wonderful thing, and even essential to keeping memories. When traveling to new places, you’d think documenting these sights and memories is the most important thing for that weekend or that week. While I usually have my phone or camera in hand on these trips, I’ve learned it’s also important to PUT IT DOWN to really enjoy the moment and immerse yourself completely. You never know what you’ll miss when fiddling with your camera or phone.
In January 2014, I visited Iceland with my aunt. Don’t get me wrong, I took pictures every day I was there. The main thing I got to cross off my bucket list: seeing the northern lights. Granted, taking pictures and videos in the dark requires not only an excellent camera (a.k.a. now what I brought with) but also knowing how to switch the settings. After several failed attempts, I am so glad I gave up and put my phone away. The northern lights are definitely a once in a lifetime experience, if at all. I learned to take it slow and really soak in the moment. Besides, a picture can’t reveal the true magic of this dancing, color changing show in the sky.
If you’ve caught the wanderlust bug like I have, share your stories with me! What has traveling taught you? How has it changed you?