How traveling has changed my life
Updated: Jun 1, 2022
"Traveling made me more open-minded and taught me social skills I could’ve never learned in a classroom."
I was never more excited than when I finally turned 18 years old. I was old enough to make my dreams come true and travel the world on my own terms. I boarded on a plane to Costa Rica, not knowing how it would change my life. I was a naïve, impulsive girl with little life experience or common sense. I had never been independent before and I didn’t even know how to cook or wash my clothes. However, I was determined to undertake this trip on my own. I never regretted it. The trip sparked something in me. It made me feel alive. And I became hooked.
Today, 8 years later, I’ve visited over 40 countries on 5 different continents. I indulged myself in numerous travel experiences, from volunteering abroad in Sri Lanka to studying in the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, and Peru. I’ve fallen in love with Mother Earth’s incredible nature, authentic cultures, and diversity. I enjoy learning about new places and stepping out of my comfort zone. It has helped me to become a better person, with an ever-lasting lust for travel. Here’s how traveling has changed my life.
I’ve become more appreciative of life
Having traveled to so many different countries, I encountered many different situations. I saw poverty, oppression, crime, etc. But above all, I saw people in little villages who were smiling no matter how bad their life situation was. I was very touched by this simplicity of life.
These immersive experiences have taught me to be more appreciative of my own life. I know how blessed I am to be able to travel the world. I value the simple things in life more, like having great friends and family who support me in whatever I do.
I’ve become more sociable
The first travels I undertook were solo, going to various corners of the world. Arriving alone in a foreign country, I was always a little nervous about meeting and opening up to new people. However, every time I did open up, I quickly realized how much easier it is to meet people abroad than at home. I never really felt alone, because I was constantly meeting interesting people who’d join me for a few days or sometimes even weeks. I often experienced that our mindsets were well-aligned, allowing our conversations to flow more smoothly. I met some of my closest friends while traveling. Today, it doesn’t scare me at all to start random conversations with strangers.
I’ve become more open-minded
This was one of the most important life lessons I learned. Being open-minded means being willing to try new things or hear and consider new ideas. By meeting so many fellow travelers from different backgrounds and encountering new and interesting experiences on a daily basis, I learned how to keep an open mind. I became more receptive to trying new things (things I would’ve never tried in my ‘normal’ life) and embracing new perspectives. For example, I met many Buddhists when I was volunteering in Sri Lanka, who had a very different perspective on life than Western societies. After learning about their culture, my own view on life was changed.
Thanks to my open-mindedness I also found new passions, such as hiking and camping in the mountains. Growing up in a flat country, I was never exposed to adventures and rugged landscapes. My interest only grew after traveling across South America, where I hiked and camped multiple times deep in the Andes mountains.
I’ve become more self-confident
Traveling requires some confidence, and I learned that the hard way. There have been many challenges along the way. I have got lost multiple times, ripped off, missed buses and trains, and had food poisoning. These uncomfortable situations helped me to become more thick-skinned and confident. I learned to not let my emotions stand in the way, and instead made the best out of every trip. It is inevitable that traveling occasionally presents challenges and unpleasant situations. However, being more self-confident and tough makes it easier to deal with them.
I’ve found my independence
Living at home until the age of 18, I always relied on my parents. They made sure I finished my homework, my bed was made, and my room was cleaned. I never really learned how to function on my own until I started traveling. I was suddenly making my own decisions and taking care of myself. This feeling of newfound independence was great! By having to make my own travel arrangements, like figuring out travel routes, transportation, and doing laundry, I gained life experience. Up until now, I still greatly value independence. I don’t like to be told what to do or how to do something.
I’ve developed a better common sense
When traveling to a new and unfamiliar destinations, there is always some sort of risk involved. Travel safety issues are what hinder most people to travel in the first place. It never stopped me. While traveling, I learned that safety should always be top of mind. I developed some common-sense, vigilance, and preparation. I always figured out what safety precautions to take in each country. I had to rely heavily on my ‘gut’ feeling, which, in my opinion, has gotten better after being exposed to many different situations.
One of the most memorable trips in my life was to India. My parents were extremely worried about me and my two female friends traveling around this diverse country. It was the media especially that had struck fear into the hearts of my parents. I, on the other hand, was keeping a more open mind and wanted to witness the situation for myself. I prepared myself on ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’. For example, I always made sure my knees were covered and never walked into a small, desolate alley. Not one moment did I feel unsafe in India, and the country even turned out to be one of my favorite destinations in the world.
I’ve changed my perspective on life
Having traveled to 5 different continents, I met countless people and was exposed to diverse cultures. I experienced a myriad of new things and was challenged often. All these experiences redefined my meaning of life. I realized that there is only one life and I truly aim to live that life to the fullest. I also recognized that freedom is the most important thing to me, and I am pursuing this freedom with the work I do. I can’t imagine settling down in one place and trying to climb the corporate ladder.
How has travel changed you? Comment below!