I have only truly understood some of the many lessons learned from traveling after I traveled. It was like everything I have read and heard from travelers clicked into place. And often, understanding comes quietly and sometimes so fleetingly that you have to be paying attention to catch it. There is really nothing like traveling to teach life lessons they do not teach at school.
1. People are innately kind
One of the first lessons I learned growing up is to never talk with strangers. There is nothing essentially wrong with that bit of advice. It keeps us safe, especially at an age when we are most vulnerable if left alone. But somehow, that lesson stuck with me and changed my perception about strangers in general. It made me avoid situations that require me to interact with people I do not know. Traveling has changed that view. The wariness is still there. But I have learned to be more open to talking with people I met in my travels. I have learned to smile and chat if opportunities arise. And I have learned to trust enough to ask for help if I needed it. This has considerably changed my outlook in life.
2. Different cultures teach you to appreciate diversity
The world is made of places and people with different cultures. Traveling exposes you to diverse beliefs and ways of life that will shatter whatever stereotypes you may have in your mind. I find that the more I immerse myself, no matter how briefly, into the local culture, the more I begin to appreciate them. I learned that despite the differences, there are still things that can bind us with other people if we care enough to understand.
3. The world is not as scary as you might think
If you let fear influence your travel decisions, you might end up not traveling at all. And it is completely understandable given all the scary things we hear on the news. One of the reasons I did not want to travel before was because I was scared of being out of my comfort zone. I had safety and security concerns that were difficult to overcome. But taking a leap of faith was the best thing I have done. It was after I traveled that I realized that the world was not as scary as I thought it was.
4. You can accomplish more than you think
Traveling lets you discover more about yourself. You will be constantly surprised by how capable you are and how much more you can do than you might previously think. On the road, you begin to trust yourself more. You learn to take responsibility for the decisions you make. And you learn to adapt with whatever it is that life throws out you while traveling.
5. Spending time alone is good for you
I used to think that solo travel is dangerous, especially for a woman. I believed this despite knowing that there are many women travelers who have already done it and came out unscathed from the experience. But after experiencing it for myself, I learned that going solo can do a girl a lot of good. I realized that being alone is different from being lonely.
6. You will always find a way
I have been through some challenging experiences in my travels. There have been moments when I felt helpless and inept to handle the problems I had to deal with. But those experiences taught me that I can always find a way if I set my mind on it.
7. The best things happen once you overcome fear
I am not adventurous by nature. I am far from the brave girl like many of the travelers I admire. I tend to avoid situations that scare me. It was when I started traveling that I learned to do things despite the fear. And many of the most memorable travel experiences I had happened when I tried to overcome my fears.
8. Great things happen when you stay present
I am a planner and an overthinker. So I usually have a lot of things going on in my head. This habit often prevents me from enjoying the moment. One of the greatest things about traveling is that it teaches you to be present. I find that it is more fun when I stay in the here and now than thinking about things that do not matter in the present moment.