Looking back at past travels, and old posts on here, I cannot help but think just how travel has changed me. The person I was just five years ago, before The World Wanderer was born, is not the person I am today. When I look back at who I was, the life I was living, and what I valued, I can hardly recognize myself.
I can’t explain why I’m so restless or why I have such a strong desire to see all of the world, but I am so glad it’s a part of who I am. Through travel, I have become who I was always meant to be, and I like the person I have grown into. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see someone who is brave enough to take a chance on the world, someone who has the power to do great things, someone who will do anything to make sure she sees it all.
While the journey is far from over, this is how travel has changed me so far and shaped me into the person I am today:
Travel has made me more patient.
Without a doubt, the biggest lesson I have learned while traveling is patience. Growing up outside of New York City, my life has always been fast-paced. This has led me to become a rather impatient person, always wanting instant gratification. It has also made me focus much of my thoughts on the future and get upset when my expectations weren’t the reality.
Through travel, I have been able to refocus my life on the present moment and appreciate when life takes its own sweet time. When my patience has been tested on the road with long border crossings or unreliable transportation, I’ve been able to put aside my tendency to rush everything, take my time, and enjoy wherever direction the delay is pushing me towards. While it isn’t always easy to take this lesson home, I try my best to focus on the present moment and understand that any delays are a chance to slow down and enjoy the moment along with the lessons that come with it.
Travel has made me less fearful and anxious.
While I understand that travel tends to make people anxious, I have found quite the opposite affect. In my early-twenties, I was riddled with fear and anxiety. When life put a few bumps in my road, it threw me off completely, and it took me a long time to get back on track. Once I started traveling, I eventually lost my unrealistic fears and worries.
While traveling, I have been able to get completely out of my comfort zone, and there I found I was able to deal with more than I thought I could. Travel has made me braver than I ever knew I could be, and I’ve carried that home with me. Whenever I get worried or fearful about a situation in my life, I refocus my thoughts and think of all I have seen and done. When I put the situation in perspective, I realize there’s no reason to worry about the future, when all that’s certain is the present moment.
Travel has made me realize I can live with less.
For as long as I have been traveling, I believe that less is more, which is why I only travel with a carry on bag. If I can travel for weeks at a time with such a small amount of possessions, then I could be equally happy at home with less.
I was able to realize that material items could never make me as happy as exploring and experiencing the world. I didn’t want to buy a product that was made in another country, I wanted to see that country with my own eyes. Once I realized my priorities, I began to look at money in a new light and realized I can live with a lot less than I previously thought. In looking at my goals for travel, I have curbed my shopping to buying only necessities, and when I am tempted to buy something new and shiny, I compare the price tag to that of a plane ticket. Putting money in perspective this way makes me better able to save for future adventures, and I have also found that I’m much happier with a less possessions.
Travel has made me appreciate the little things in life.
All too often, we tend to live our lives as machines until the day something happens and wakes us up; only then do we realize the little things we take for granted each and every day. These can be simple luxuries we are afforded based on where we live or our loved ones, but we don’t always slow down and realize how lucky we are.
Before traveling, I had no idea what the world was really like. No television programs, movies, books, or magazine articles can really give you a sense of the way people in the world live and what their lives are really like. Not until you see it with your own eyes or experience it first-hand, do you really understand. I no longer complain about my tiny struggles because that’s exactly what they are, small problems. I have a roof over my head, a family who has given me love, incredible friends, an education, a job, a car, the list is endless. I’m also able to realize that my place in the world is very small, and I am reminded that I am not the center of the universe.
Travel has made me care more about the world.
Even though I have always been compassionate when it comes to humanitarian needs, it’s only more recently that I have started to care more about the earth and environment. I’ve seen extreme cases of pollution, as well as eco-friendly advances. After seeing the world, I know I want to contribute to making it a better place, and I can start that at home.
When buying new products, I make sure they are eco-friendly, organic, and vegetarian; I also try to purchase products that are fair trade and that help communities around the world. It may be a small way to contribute, but I know any small difference I can make is better than not doing anything.
There are many ways travel has changed me, and I know the more I travel, the more changed I will become. This is my favorite part of the journey; nothing is more exciting than seeing who I will be at the end of each one. Which is why, I’m continuing to look forward to more adventures and changes for the better.