How Travel Has Changed Me

Traveling isn’t just about visiting pretty destinations and taking Instagram photos. When I started to travel often, I began to realize how much my experiences truly changed me. While I do believe I was knowledgable of other cultures, I still lived in my own personal bubble. It wasn’t until I began traveling more outside of the United States that I truly understood the differences in each and every one of us. Not only did I begin to understand these differences, I began to appreciate them. I began appreciating every individual out there as well as learning to appreciate myself as an independent.

Of course I owe a lot of who I am from my upbringing. I grew up in a low income household with a single mother and two older siblings. I witnessed the struggle my mother would endure while raising three children without any support from a male figure.  Thank God for my grandma’s assistance in helping raise us while my mom would work multiple jobs. As a child, I began saving money that I would receive from birthdays and Christmas. There was nothing I was saving for besides security and stability. I learned at a young age the importance of money and knew that I would work as soon as I could to earn my own income. In order to take the burden off from my mom, I started working at the age of 14 and haven’t gone a day without work since.

While I was blessed enough to go on many vacations growing up because my mom felt it was important to give us those experiences, I never really appreciated traveling. Throughout high school and college, I would turn down trips with friends because I didn’t want to miss out on any work opportunities. So, although I had great work ethics I feel that I was in a way sheltered. I was focused on working and making money as if those were the important things in life. I do believe this mindset at an early age helped me tremendously in saving and preparing for the future, but there’s a lot more to life than just that.

It wasn’t until recently that I started to love traveling to other countries. That I started to love the feeling of uncertainty in another area where I had to dig deep and learn about the ins and out of the country I was visiting. I finally realized that to me traveling was a necessity. Necessary to keep me sane, grounded, and cultured. Along the way I started noticing changes in myself and all for the better. I was loving the new me and the new mindset I held, specifically in these topics below.

Compassion

Sympathetic concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

I like to believe that I’ve always had a big heart; however, I know my love and concern for others was limited. Meaning I wasn’t too worried about the issues outside of my personal life or outside of the country I lived in. Of course problems existed all over the world, but for some reason I thought my compassion couldn’t reach that far. I quickly realized that my mentality wasn’t the right way to think. We are all human beings on this Earth. We are all equal in importance. We should all have the same quality of life and opportunities. I have met some amazing people during my travels. People who welcome me with open arms. That’s why I found it important to reciprocate that action with people wanting to visit or live in my beautiful country. My compassion for others grew tremendously and truly shaped me into a better person.

Privilege

A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

Recognizing privilege is hard for many. The fact that I am even allowed to travel to different countries shows just how privileged I am. Often times people will say, “Anybody can travel, you just have to be dedicated.” My response to that is simple: that’s bullshit. No, not anybody can travel. The reason behind that may be financial, health, or visa requirements. It’s not attainable to everybody, so I am beyond thankful that I have been able to explore this amazing world. While I do believe that travel can be more affordable than some perceive, I also recognize that every person’s life is different.

Confidence

A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

Going on trips gave me a new sense of confidence. A once timid girl, I now find myself having the confidence to spark up a conversation with individuals as well as not worry about others’ perspective of me. In previous years you would never catch me eating out in public alone, in fear that I would come off as lonely. Now, I embrace those moments and enjoy not having someone to accompany me during every move. I have the ability to walk the streets of a new town alone and while there will always be risks, I know I have the strength to overcome obstacles.

Goals

The objects of a person’s ambition or effort; desired results.

If you asked me in college where I’d see myself at age 30, my response would be…”a married accountant living in a single family home with 3 kids.” Now, my response is…wherever the flight deals take me. I am not obsessed with a timeline of life achievements. I am not obsessed with the idea of settling down with a family before the age of 30. Do I eventually want to get married and have kids? Of course. However, those are no longer at the top of my priority list. Happiness is what’s important to me and a timeline is absolutely not necessary for that. There’s so much left of the world that I want to see, so I have a new approach of, when it happens, it happens.

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I cannot emphasize enough the importance of traveling. And by traveling I do not mean staying in a resort and focusing purely on relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, those trips are amazing, but there’s much more out there. Go visit places you normally wouldn’t. Think outside the box. Respect and learn about new cultures. Don’t be scared to wander. The feelings you’ll experience and the positive impact it’ll have on your mind is simply priceless.

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