6 Important Life Lessons You'll Learn from Traveling
Natural beauty can be your best teacher.
There's something about the open countryside stretched out before you, or a long voyage through the mountains on a train that brings about some of the best self-reflection you can muster. I often find that when I am in an especially beautiful place or on my way to a new destination, the words I think and write become increasingly poetic (maybe overly so, but who’s checking anyway?).
So what is it about traveling through the natural marvels of this world that creates this phenomenon? Your self-awareness is heightened and your brain moves into sensory overload, for starters. And maybe it’s that getting out into the big, beautiful world helps us turn off all the extra noise that normal daily routines create. The 9-5 shuffle dulls our senses almost to the point where we forget to be present and live.
So, I try extremely hard in my daily life to make sure that doesn’t happen too often. And when life does get too monotonous and noisy, it usually then results in itchy feet and a packed bag. Because the lessons I’ve learned from trekking through the natural beauty in the world are ones I hold closest to my heart. They are, in reality, the most valuable tools I have to get through difficult life moments. Some of my favorites learned:
Experiences are worth more than any money you will ever make.
Unfortunately, we all have to make money somehow. But, that doesn’t mean it should be your main focus. Becoming a slave to work without also seeking joy and passion will slowly eat away the parts of your soul so important to its vibrancy and vitality. The experiences travel affords you will feed it, on the other hand.
So think hard about what you love and go somewhere new to discover it. After all, we can’t take the Benjamins we make with us, but we can carry the memories of a sunrise over Lake Como, exhilarating hikes through the Swiss Alps, and peaceful camel riding through the deserts of Morocco.
Appreciation is the best and hardest lesson to learn.
When you travel, you automatically learn to appreciate everything – the conveniences and comforts of home you left behind, the wonderful people you meet, and the incredible beauty you’ll encounter. Travel naturally teaches you an attitude of gratitude.
I have found that there is real power in giving thanks. Not just for people in your life, but for the opportunities and experiences you get by simply taking a plane, train, or automobile somewhere new. And the funny thing about gratitude is that the more you simply give, the more you will naturally get back in return. It’s exponential.
The world is a beautiful place.
Perhaps this is one of my favorite lessons. I would say favorite because we are so bombarded by the ugliness we see in the news and online that sometimes cynicism wins us over. Travel negates all of that. You cannot travel without finding beauty – the ocean, the mountains, monuments, people, food or art. We are absolutely surrounded by beauty and sometimes it takes getting out of your comfort zone to realize that.
Traveling has taught me never to forget that and it allows me to hold onto my optimistic view of the world.
You are a small part of a woven fabric.
Traveling also reminds you that you are, in fact, very small in the grand scheme of things. It’s not scary, really, and it doesn’t make your contributions less important. But, there is something about standing on the peak of a mountaintop or witnessing a heavy storm in a foreign country that is so severely humbling.
It helps keep your feet on the ground and prevents you from developing an attitude of self-importance. In many ways, travel helps you grow compassion and empathy. After all, we’re all the same small pieces woven into the great fabric of humanity.
Seize your short time on this planet.
Don’t wait for the right time to go witness the marvels this planet has to offer. Traveling should be something you do continually until you retire — and beyond. There will never actually be a "right" moment to slip away from the office, so just go already.
Once you start traveling, you’ll realize that the wonders this life has to offer will take a lifetime to experience. I often find myself thinking of all the places I haven’t seen yet, as opposed to where I’ve actually been. Make travel your way of life, and it will reward you and fulfill your more than you could ever imagine.
Just be happy.
Happiness. Truly the one and only thing we all strive for in one way or another. By traveling, I’ve learned more about myself and what it takes to make me happy than I ever could from any book or class.
You learn your talents, your weaknesses, your strengths, your dreams, and goals. Traveling the world is like an all-encompassing life lesson that never ends. Yes, it’s quite hard at times, but those challenges are when you learn the most – by discovering what doesn’t make you happy.
Really I suppose I can’t say much more than go. Right now. “Sail away from safe harbor,” as Mark Twain said. The natural beauty this world has to offer is waiting for you.