Jul 3, 2013

How Has Travel Changed Me?

I originally wrote this as a guest post for a friend a little while back, but felt like I should also share it with you guys as well. I hope many of you with wandering souls can relate to this.

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 "How has travel changed me?"--a question asked of me a few months ago that's been lingering in the periphery of my mind ever since. In what ways has traveling the world fundamentally changed me? Or has it at all? Sure, coming home from a fabulous weekend exploring France can alter your perspective for a while, but does a trip like that really change who I am? Or is that spark just the feel-good glow of a weekend exploring Paris? I've spent a lot of time thinking about my life in Germany and all the traveling I've done since moving here just 2 short years ago. While reminiscing, I've gleaned that I have, indeed changed because of travel. In some ways, monumentally, in others, just a fraction...but all in all I suppose travel has made me a better, well-rounded individual. 
And here's why:

1| Travel challenges your attachment to things. 
After spending two weeks living out of a suitcase, rotating through the same 2 pairs of shoes and blue jeans, you realize you're capable of living differently. Most of the time with less that you're used to. Suddenly, that fancy coffee maker you impatiently hover over each morning doesn't seem to matter as much. You adapt, you change, and you learn to love coffee from the hotel lobby or the quirky coffee shop down the street in whatever city you find yourself in that day. While the want for luxuries will still be there (we are only human, after all), with travel you can find happiness in simplicity and are often intrigued by the challenge of making due with a more minimalistic lifestyle. Or a Starbucks-less existence.


2| Traveling gives you an undeniable appreciation for what you have. 
This fact goes seamlessly with point #1. Living with less (or seeing others living with less) while traveling makes you really appreciate all that you have back home. Whether it's as simple as having a certain comfy chair you sit in or as complex as the need to have indoor plumbing; traveling to third world countries and seeing the lack of seemingly basic necessities can open your eyes to having heartfelt admiration for how good you've really got it. After traveling, home has a freshness not sensed before. Nothing like time away from all of your possessions to give you a hefty dose of reality.


3| Travel teaches you patience. 
Before moving to Germany, I rarely had to worry about waiting. America is the land of instant gratification. After living and traveling all over Europe, I've learned that patience is indeed a virtue. One definitely worth having and holding on to. Waiting for trains, planes, in a queue to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower; you either learn to accept the delays and consider them valuable breathing spaces while traveling, or you succumb to the boredom and hang up your passport. Impatience can make or break a traveller's soul. Adopting a patient attitude is also beneficial when trying to communicate with those who don't speak your language. If you don't have patience to try multiple ways to explain or understand something in a foreign country, you won't get what you're after. You'll have a hard time making friends, too!


4| Travel cultivates a sense of wonder and curiosity. 
There's something about submerging yourself in a unfamiliar place that evokes a curious nature within yourself. Instead of gravitating towards the usual, you find yourself drawn to the unusual...the things you don't often see or experience. Curiosity "kills the cat," as they say, but with travel, it's different. Marveling at the world through curious eyes tends to breed bravery. Bravery to dance in the streets of Barcelona, daringness to try new foods in Thailand, or even courage to ride a donkey up the cobblestoned hills of Santorini. Whatever the case may be, traveling gives way to wonder and investigation, and often produces some of the most memorable traveling adventures of your life.


5| Travel tests your relationships. 
There is no truer test of compatibility than traveling with a loved one. Sharing tight quarters and raggedy suitcases, deciding where to eat between two differing palates, deciphering city maps while simultaneously pulling your hair out...all these things not only contribute to learning what kind of person you are, but what kind of person you enjoy being around in the midst of stressful situations. I think all newly engaged couples should embark on a 2 week traveling adventure to really test the bonds of love. I imagine we'd have fewer divorces this way! Luckily, my husband has proved to be the best travel companion in the world, and traveling without him is utterly unbearable at times. It's true what they say, experiencing the world with someone you love, who balances you, just adds to the wonder of traveling.


6| Travel rearranges your priorities. 
If you had asked me a 2 years ago where I thought my life would be, I wouldn't have said "living in Germany and perpetually traveling." Funny how we plan and God laughs, huh? Living abroad and exploring Europe has enabled me to rearrange what I previously considered a priority. Sometimes willingly, and other times forcibly, but all the while creating awareness of the things I hold dear. Nowadays, traveling and discovering our next great adventure is priority. My husband and I have a goal of seeing at least 22 countries during our time living here in Germany, so we sacrifice the typical Friday night dinner out or the no holds barred shopping sprees to save money to reach our goal. Essentially, we live to travel. Someday our goals will be much different, but for now we're taking advantage of the time we have in Europe. They'll be time for making babies later. ;)


7| Travel can humble you. 
Recently, I've noticed that there are very few situations in life that are truly awe-inspiring. When I sit down and think about those specific moments in my own life, I realize how lucky I really am. At 26-years-old, I've experienced more while traveling than most people do in their entire lives. I can still remember how small I felt while standing underneath the Eiffel Tower...the overflowing joy I experienced while watching the New Year's Eve fireworks explode over Germany...or how insignificant my problems seemed while standing before the concentration camp gates of Dachau. All of these experiences combined in one giant piece of humble pie make me grateful for the life God has blessed me with.


8| Traveling stimulates good mental health. 
There's nothing like embarking on a new adventure in an unknown land to help boost those serotonin levels and get the happy juices flowing. The good vibes don't usually start the night before, when I'm packing, answering emails, and remembering to take out the trash. But once I board the plane or hop in the car, I breathe a little more easily as the daily grind starts shrinking in my rear view mirror. Small changes in habits, even short lived, can widen perspectives and snap energy back into your everyday life once home again. Granted, you often need a vacation after your vacation, but that's nothing a nice warm bath and a cocktail couldn't fix. ;)


9| Travel introduces you to new people, new cultures. 
Highly touted as one of the best parts of traveling, meeting new people and experiencing their cultures often contributes to one feeling changed upon arriving home. Seeing the world through someone else's eyes cultivates a need in us that usually lies dormant most days of the year. The need to try different things, to go about living life a different way, and to be open-minded about new ways of thinking. Surrounding yourself with people who talk, dress, eat, and think differently than you can give way to enhancing your own life back home. Just one of many reasons it's hard to ignore the travel bug when it bites.


10| Travel can renew your faith in humanity. 
I had a really crummy job back when I was living stateside. I worked for the government, in a program closely related to welfare, and it jaded me. Watching greedy, apathetic people ride the system, gleaning money away from hardworking taxpayers day in and day out left me with a skewed view of society...one that took moving to a foreign country and experiencing other cultures to realign again. Traveling around the world has opened my eyes to see that people are inherently good. While some don't always make great choices in the life they're living, others can't help the hand they've been dealt. Those that are humble, good-natured, and kind always seem to make themselves known to me while traveling, taking me aback and reminding me that the good and hardworking infinitely outweigh the evil and lackadaisical. Instead of always noticing the negative in people, I've learned to accentuate the positive and love everyone unconditionally.

Never wonder if travel is worth it. 
As you can see, it always is. Go, see, and explore, my friends. Let the world change you. 

Has travel changed you? In what ways? Share your thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

35 comments:

  1. I love this post! I'm from New Zealand, but I've recently moved to England for a while. Although I had already done quite a bit of travelling before I moved here, while I've been in England I have been blessed with opportunities to travel a bit around Europe (with more adventures to come) and I can relate to all of those! So great! Fantastic list! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Well said. Great perspective on how travel can reveal so much about life and culture to us.

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  3. What an amazing post!!!! It made me smile from ear to ear! It also made me want to adopt that mentality of saving every bit of money to travel during these early years of our marriage. We live in Okinawa, Japan and have so many plans to travel around Asia but those little expenses during the weekends add up very very quickly. I think i am going to bring this idea up to my husband, because sometimes i look at our travel wishlist and i feel like we will never get the chance to visit all the countries we want. And trust me i do!! Maybe one day i'll have tons of travel experience like you and will get the chance to share how it's changed me personally.

    xoxo,
    -Laura
    www.inspirationsparks.com

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  4. i think i love your first two points especially. TOTALLY changes how you view your 'normal' every day. yes, it's nice to have everything we have at home. but it's also very do-able to live with much less and simplify things. many times i have seen others homes and the state in which they live (malaysia was a real eye-opener) and can't even imagine living like that. but they do. and they're grateful for what they have. and it makes me want to both simplify my own life at home as well as be grateful for every little thing i have that is clean and good.

    thanks for sharing this :)
    thumbs up for traveling!!!

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  6. Travel does cultivate curiosity and wonder for the world- having just returned to the USA after living in Spain for a year, I feel as if I have returned home a different person... with an eagerness to explore and know the world in a way that I never had one year ago!

    And yes... travel is humbling. We are richly blessed in this world, huh?

    <3 Dominique (www.theadventuresofholly.wordpress.com)

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  7. Every time I go somewhere I come back different. I want to keep changing and getting better. Travel open my eyes to new experiences that help me to grow.

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  8. Wonderful post, Casey! I can relate to every point you make. I haven't traveled as much as you, but having lived in four different countries so far has given me the opportunity to meet many people from so many different backgrounds and nationalities and it's taught me to appreciate and be thankful for what I have and also to be more critic while at the same time augmenting my faith in humanity.
    After moving countries several times, I've also realised how many things are totally unnecessary and begun to enjoy a more simple life - even if I still love shopping for clothes. And yes, traveling is highly addictive and hopefully I'll have more chances to travel in the next couple of years, before babies come, that's it!

    Have a lovely evening and enjoy the summer in Germany :)
    xo Irene

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  9. It's amazing. I love this post. Living as an expat though as made me cling on and become more attached to certain things I own. Since I now see my family and friends once a year, once every two years sometimes I've become more sentimental about things like the mug my best friend bought me at so and so, etc.

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  10. Hi Casey,

    I'm a new follower and absolutely loved this post!!!! I love to travel and plane tickets are my favorite thing to buy! :) I consider myself a "culture junkie"- always wanting to experience new cultures and new places. It fascinates me! I agree with all of the ways that travel changes you especially with making you appreciate what you have, building your patience, relationships, priorities and humbling you!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing, I can't wait to keep reading about your adventures!

    xoxo,
    Karra

    kaybeeelle.blogspot.com

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  11. It sounds amazing. :) I can't wait until we're stable enough to be able to afford to travel a bunch!

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  12. I think the joy of travelling isn't for everyone, I know I love my holidays but I love my home more but I am so close to my family and not being around them all the bloody time is hard. I say this as I have my 4month old graddaugher beside me in a bounce I can't imagine not being able to see her each week...........

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  13. I totally related to this post. I always feel so thankful and humbled when I travel around and it always reminds me that I don't need a lot of stuff. Living out of a suitcase can be really freeing!

    I think it's safe to say traveling has completely changed me. Probably the biggest thing I learned is how similar we all are-we want the same things, talk about the same things (is there any bread left at the house?), fall in love, cry bitterly, laugh til our sides ache. That's the beauty of seeing new places and meeting new people-finding that relatable point in someone who seems so different.

    Loving your blog :)

    http://shannonthemrs.blogspot.de/

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  14. I have a sister who never cares to travel outside the US ever and it kinda makes me sad. It seems so close minded and she's missing out! What an amazing experience you've got to have. It's priceless. I can't wait to get back to Europe for another trip. I Love to travel and just wish I could do it more.

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  15. Love this post! Thanks for sharing:) I love to travel and hope one day I can live in Europe.

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  16. I can relate to everyone of these through my travels! very well written, i enjoyed reading this, especially travelling with a loved one, which is what i did.

    A Golden State of Mind

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  17. I love this post SO much. While I'd never done much traveling until my husband and I explored the US for our honeymoon, it definitely changed my view of humanity and the world. But it only lasts a short time of being trapped at home again to have the itch return. When he comes back from deployment, we plan to catch a Space A flight and traverse Europe for a couple of weeks. I CAN'T WAIT. All of the reasons you listed are exactly why I can't wait to see the world! <3

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    Replies
    1. Btw, I mentioned you/your blog in my post today! http://belikethefox.blogspot.com/2013/07/favorite-bloggers.html

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  18. it's amazing how something as simple as getting outside your comfort zone can teach you more things than school ever did! best way to spend your money by far!

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  19. I agree Travel is good for the soul. When I travel or move or go back overseas its like going to a spa. I feel refreshed I see life renewed my relationships are strengthen. Travel is a life source.

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose

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  20. I feel like I could have written this, we think so similarly! GORGEOUS post!!! Hope this inspires people to travel more.

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  21. What a gorgeously written from the heart post this is, Casey. You've articulated what I love about travel far, far better than I ever could.

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  22. Traveling and living overseas has definitely taught me to be more patient and more 'zen' about life in general. I don't sweat the little things anymore :)

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  23. #7 Totally. Several of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life happened while I was in Europe.

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  24. Great post! Got me so excited to move to Germany next year!!!

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  25. This is a great post! I couldn't agree more with everything and you even got me thinking about a few things I hadn't thought about before. Loved it. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. Thank you for linking up with us! I loved this post because I can relate. #1 and #6 stick out because I used to keep up with the trends and be obsessed with the latest and great handbag - well, not anymore. All of our belongings are in a storage unit and I don't miss any of it! Instead of wanting to collect more stuff, I want to experience things with my husband. That is what has become important to me... making memories! :)

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  27. After seeing your blog around the internet, I finally stopped over and am so glad I did! Loved this post especially! :)

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  28. Love this post! Its so so true. I studied abroad during college and traveled before and after, it definitely increased my patience a ton (it could still be improved). Your blog is wonderful and I am super jealous that you get to live in Europe! Have you visited Prague yet?? If not its a definite romantic spot especially in the start of April. Traveling has definitely opened my mine to many other cultures and blessed me with various interactions with all sorts of people. Great job putting this into words.
    Drink some wonderful German beer for me!

    Josie | www.josephinevirginia.com

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  29. The more I traveled, the more welcome I felt, and the more I wanted to write about it. Since then, I’ve been to Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden, and Poland, as well as about a quarter of the U.S. states. I’m also planning trips to Monaco and Japan. Travel has meant a lot to me, so I see the Disabled Travelers blog as a way of giving back and saying thanks to all the people who’ve helped me go further than I thought possible. At the same time, I get to help all of you out there on the internet create the kind of unforgettable memories and life-changing experiences I’ve enjoyed.
    For more info, visit: Disability Travel

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  30. The office staff are getting very excited about the new database!!! Not long until we are live with a fantastic new booking system - WATCH THIS SPACE............
    For more info visit: support

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  31. Hey Casey! I just want to know how greatly inspired I am whenever I drop by your blog. One of the many things that I love about "hanging out" in your page is the sincerity in every post you have. Thank you for sharing all of your adventures...your experiences have changed how I see travel! :) I learned that the greatest travel experiences we can have are those that God has ordained and planned out in our lives...that we don't need to force it or anything.. :) Hugs and prayers from the Philippines! (ps. you should come and visit our country too. we have one of the most amazing beaches around!)

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I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

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