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Traveling: The Lessons You Learn

Updated on September 18, 2009
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Traveling: The Lessons You Learn

  Traveling, whether it be to another city or a different country, can be a big awakening about how you look at life and who you are as a person. One of the greatest gifts that I have ever received was from a friend who inspired me, at 19 years of age, to go on an international journey alone so that I would learn valuable lessons on my transformation into adulthood. This article hopes to give insight and inspiration for those in search of more than their day-to-day existence through the world of travel.

  Planning your travel destination can be an exhilarating experience. Thoughts arise weeks before you leave of the myriad of choices and possibilities, and once at the airport, your mind is filled with visions of what is to come. As the plane takes off you feel like a child again, in search of new horizons and unfamiliar experiences. Your heart pumps with anticipation and you can’t stop thinking about the endless possibilities of what will happen on your excursion away from home.

  If you are open-minded, you’ll be confronted with many opportunities to learn and grow as an individual. New faces and a different environment greet you, and as you disembark, it’s as if you’ve entered another world. Confusion and excitement begin as the first steps of your journey unfold. This is the turning point, a new chapter in your life where many lessons are learned. Traveling humbles and puts you in unordinary situations, and offers you life-changing education that is harder to learn in your familiar reality.

  Suddenly, you start a conversation with a stranger who becomes your first teacher; someone who will guide you on the first steps on your exploration of the globe. There are many paths to take, but it’s your choice to choose the one that is right for you. From exchanging currency to finding a hotel, hardly anything comes easy when you leave the nest that is your home. One choice, good or bad, could alter the direction of your trip, and dealing with the many new aspects of being in a foreign place can overwhelm you at times. It’s best to carefully think out every option and judge all people with the discriminating third eye. By preparing for and choosing each decision wisely, such as where you stay and the people that you befriend, your adventure will have a lot better chance of going smoothly.

  Traveling by yourself can dramatically change your life. When you travel alone, there is no one else to lean on, to ask questions of, or to help you in the quest of whatever it is that you’re looking for. Only you create what will happen and that in itself is a great way to build self-confidence. Sometimes when you travel with a friend, you use them as a crutch to assist you through challenging situations. I’ve found it extremely rewarding to travel alone so that I can only rely on myself for everything that I will encounter. You are one with your thoughts and although it can be a scary and disorientating experience, the rewards far outweigh the momentary anxiety. It builds character, patience, self-reliance, respect and forces you to change your outlook on the many difficulties that life throws at you. Furthermore, traveling alone also helps you to appreciate: family, friends, relationships, and what you do have at home. Things that you’ve become numb to because it’s part of your daily routine and lifestyle. Of course, it’s nice to go with a friend on some vacations, to share with the things that you’ve done and seen. However, from my experience, locals and more willing to talk with you or take you into their homes if they know that you are alone. This is a perfect way to learn about where you are, the language, and the areas culture and traditions.

  Traveling alone isn’t for everyone. Unfortunately, women can be subjected to the advances of men. In some countries, the male species is so forward that it would be best to have a companion along. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of well-traveled women that can hold their own in any situation. Nevertheless, for the rookie traveler it might be better to go with a streetwise friend to learn some of the common road rules.

  Traveling in general, by yourself or with a friend, is like going to school. The school of life where you grow as a person with newfound eyes, and an ever-changing perspective on the beauty of life. You won’t know until you go whether it’s for you or not, but remember that memories are forever. Challenge yourself and set sail; lose sight of the shore into the unchartered territory of the world and live life to its fullest!


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    • storke profile image

      storke 8 years ago from Santa Cruz, California

      Thanks Polly!

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 8 years ago from UK

      This is a great hub,it is exactly the way I think about travelling. Although I have not travelled completely alone, I have learned a lot from my experiences, about different cultures and how to look at things in life from another perspective. It has definitely changed the way I think about certain things and has given me a more open minded view on life.

    • profile image

      Aymee Coget 8 years ago

      Nice article, I like how you talk about your life experiences in a way where others can learn...