“The best education you will ever get is traveling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences.”
When looking back at all the years of traveling and living abroad, I realized that travel has taught me quite a few life lessons. The places that I have visited, the unique experiences that I have made and the different people that I have met throughout the years have shaped me, my views and my beliefs. You will experience the bad and the good when traveling, but you never stop learning. Here is my honest reflection of what travel has taught me (and what it can teach you, too)!
When traveling abroad, you will meet people that live under all kinds of circumstances. You will see just how different things are compared to your own country. I believe that traveling to countries where you will face poverty or where people are not able to enjoy the same rights or freedoms like you back home, will make you appreciate what you have more. That is the point where I consider myself lucky and I try to be grateful and thankful every day.
I have to confess that I am rather an impatient person. I don’t like to wait at all. However, I do believe that travel (and all the hours waiting at airports) made me a little more patient. Over time I got used to wait. I learned that I can’t change the fact that I have to wait and that my impatience won’t shorten my waiting time. There’s only one thing you can do: Sit back and enjoy the scenery.
3. You learn to change quickly
Wherever you go, you should do your best to assimilate yourself to the country’s customs and values. Learn how to say “hello” and “thank you” in their native language. Observe how the locals live and respect their culture. But most of all be open-minded and judgment-free. Travel teaches you to adapt to foreign countries.
4. First-hand history
I am always amazed to see and experience history in real life. Visiting the ancient Rome, seeing the Byzantine churches in Cappadocia or exploring the historical sites of my hometown Berlin educated me. You learn how these historical events shaped the place, it’s people and the culture. Travel makes you understand the world that we live in.
5. Living in the moment
People dwell too often in the past or focus on the future and forget to truly live in the present. I am surely no exception. Travel always reminds me to enjoy the present moment and my surroundings. I think once in a while it is important to put away your phone or camera and to just make the most of the day.
6. Experiences over things
In the last couple of years my priorities regarding spending money changed. I learned to value experiences more than things. Instead of buying the latest fashion item, I rather spend my money on a plane ticket. You will cherish memories of your travels for the rest of your life.
Every now and then you will have to face a situation that will challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. It can be little things like trying to communicate in a different language, finding the way back to your hotel or flying by yourself for the first time. It’s not always easy, but these experiences while give you a boost of confidence.
I believe that I have become more independent after traveling by myself to the US at the age of 16. I think that everyone who studied abroad or traveled by himself or herself can relate to me. When you are away from home, you are completely on your own. Knowing that you are able to solve problems independently is an invaluable life lesson.
9. There is no wrong
When traveling the world, you encounter all kinds of views and perspectives on life. And you learn to accept them. Valuing other opinions than your own and being open-minded is necessary when visiting foreign countries. Traveling makes you understand a different way of life. Go and experience it for yourself!
I admit it: I am not the most spontaneous person. I tended to overplan everything. Luckily, this habit has changed. Because being spontaneous is part of traveling. The unexpected change of plans can lead to the best adventures.
Travel taught me that it’s fine, if not everything is going according to plan. I missed flights, I got lost in cities and got sick while traveling. Travel teaches you that you can’t control everything that happens and that’s alright. Don’t stress over these matters and remember that it’s all part of the journey.
12. Do what makes you happy
This is probably the most important life lesson: Do what makes you happy! Life is short and there is no need to wait around until you might find happiness. If traveling makes you happy, then do it now. You are responsible for your life, so make the most of it.
Which life lessons did travel teach you?