I wanted to write a post on how travel changed me. As I think about my past travels, I’ve recognized that there’s been a profound shift in the way I think about the world and how I feel about my place in it. And this is good of course, because it helped me be a more humble person; to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me.
And not only do I recognize a shift in myself but in fellow travelers. It seems that people who have traveled more are less judgmental to other religions, people, and events that happen in their lives and in the world. And I don’t think this is any accident because I do feel that the more I travel I realize that people are pretty much the same everywhere. There is the same bull shit everywhere. There is the same greatness everywhere. All in different forms.
So I wanted to share some of the ways that travel has changed me. This obviously isn’t every-bodies experience but I think many people can recognize what I have to say in themselves.
1. More secure person
I’ve always been a pretty secure person but I have to say that travel has put an extra sense of confidence in me. When I need to work through problems like buying train tickets or trying to speak another foreign language or solving flight problems; I’m confident in my abilities and don’t succumb to “freaking out” anymore. Travel taught me to take action when needed and that required security on who I am.
2. More adventurous
This is obvious but travel sparked my imagination and forced me to think outside my comfort zone. Today, there is no where off-limits and I push myself to constantly go to unique, inspiring places as well as the ones well-traveled. It’s amazing when you catch the “travel” bug you never lose it.
3. Less fear
Travel exposed me to the world, with all the good and bad. It made me do things I probably would have never done and showed me things that will change my view forever. I see today that the world isn’t so scary and travel helped me see that.
4. Less reactionary
I use to worry and react the second I got bad or good news. Maybe it’s just cause I’m getting older but travel has made me more mellow and I’m less reactionary about anything that would have annoyed me in the past. This taxi in Nepal has no air, so what. This train in China is crowded and I have to stand, so what. People are cutting me on this flight, okay let them.
When you travel often you see routines and human behavior at play. After a while you just kind of accept it and don’t worry about changing anything. It just is.
5. More humble
This one is a big one for me. Over the years I thank my lucky stars with the life I had. I’m thankful that I’m gay and can have a life here in the States. I’m thankful I can afford travel. I’m thankful for all the great places and people I have seen over my 26 years on Earth. I’m grateful I can learn and I’m grateful to write this blog. Travel taught me that it could be worse but that I should be thankful for being alive in the first place.
6. Reaffirmed that I’m not religious
I grew up not being religious but after seeing so many countries throughout the world, some with such contrasting religions and cultures, I’ve learned to appreciate them all for what they are. My belief is that religions were guides for a long time but that we as a world have grown out of that system. However I respect that most of the world is still religious and believes in something. I have a somewhat spiritual side myself even. However I will never subscribe to one particular religion. They could all be great if used correctly but today the messages are wildly different from it once was and sometimes are destructive.
7. Less judgmental
There are moments where I still am judgmental and then I catch myself in the act. That’s new for me. The part where I actually catch myself being judgmental and I’m aware. And I like that because it means I’m learning to not be judgmental all the time. That isn’t a normal habit for me and in most situations there is more than meets the eye. Travel taught me that not everything is as it seems. Get more information before jumping to a conclusion.
8. Confident about who I am
If anything travel has taught me that I am who I am; meaning my personality will never change. I may change some habits in the future but the person that people see is the one in life. I’ve long been comfortable with who I am but travel showed me that nobody really changes their personality. Sometimes I just feel different about things than others. That is clear especially when I go to a religious country or somewhere homophobic.
9. Able to handle tough situations
Inevitably all travelers will face a tough situation. That could be a cancelled flight or you got robbed or you lost your passport. Once you get into these multiple times you start correcting your actions and you stop being so foolish. Today I stay calm and although I would be upset, I take action because I know action usually must be taken. If not I just accept the situation and get through it. It’s really the best you can do and you move on.
10. I’m patient
Once you wait in lines like a 2 hour security check at Brussels airport or wait in hours of museum lines or wait in god awful traffic, you quickly learn that patience is the name of the game. Actually most of travel is waiting and if you can handle your own boredom and “stay in the moment,” you’ll be far better off. Complaining is just annoying and makes you feel worse. I now know that nothing is forever and patience is just a test of your sanity.
11. Self evaluate more often
Some of my past actions were less than flattering and sometimes I would beat myself up over something so stupid. I’m a worrier by heart but I’ve learned to not be so harsh on myself. I’ve learned to self evaluate, whether when I make a mistake or do something right. And it helps because I know what works for me and when they don’t. I self evaluate but without the harsh criticism; always keep growing.
12. Less selfish
You know as I travel more, I’m less inclined to care about getting the “best” seat on a bus or train or making sure I get a nice souvenir from every place I visit. Now it’s more about the experience and having pictures and the memories. I now see that even a bad experience can be a great story and a great memory years from now and I’m less inclined to complain about all the things going wrong. Because there is a lot going right too.
13. More aware
Traveling made me aware of everything. The good, the bad, the mundane, the fun, and the different vibes that every person, city, country, etc puts out. It made me consciously focus on my life and how I lead it will affect people and everything around me.
It made me never say I’m bored again because there is so many excitement, even in my home city. It made me realize the repetitiveness that is the world today thanks to globalization. That repetitiveness I see everyday also creates structure and allows countries to succeed. I’m able to travel more often thanks to that repetitiveness and structure.
It made me see that there is so much good in the world and more good than bad. The bad is always just under the surface and everybody is going through a struggle. Which in turn made me a more sympathetic person.
Simply travel made me a better a person in all ways. I’m grateful for it all and I’m happy to take part in it. I’m happy to leave my mark and share it with the world. I’m happy with the lessons that travel has taught me and can’t wait to see what I learn next.
images by: shawnvoyage