My first big adventure began in 2011 when I moved to a little city in The Netherlands. At the time I was terrified! Moving to a new city half way across the world and starting a new life there seemed like an overwhelming thought at the time but deep down, I knew if I didn’t take that chance, I’d always be wondering what if. I had always said that I wanted to travel and now was my big chance. I was never the same since. Travel changes you in many ways and while some of those are big changes, others are small – so small that you don’t notice them until months or even years later. Here are some of the reasons as to just how travel will change you in the littlest of ways.
You will learn to be independent
Wandering half way across the world with my life packed into a suitcase and no one to depend on should something go wrong was a big learning curve. I had to learn how to survive being sick and getting myself to the doctor all alone, how to order food in a different language and how to find my way around a new city. I learnt to be independent pretty fast and rely on no one but myself.
You will make decisions by yourself, for yourself
Traveling solo to a new place means that you can actually choose what you want to do, when you want to do it and how you want to do it. One of the biggest challenges that we as women face is learning how to be alone and actually be happy when we are alone. So many women out there feel the need to constantly have a companion by their side in everything they do which essentially means that you’re not always making decisions solely for you. You’re making decisions for two. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I strongly believe that all women should at some point experience what it means to make choices solely based on what you want.
You realize that you have a home team
Throughout my travels, while I have made many friends, I have also lost many too. The thing about leaving home to travel the world is that you are also leaving people behind. Lives change and not everyone will stick around, waiting to hear about your adventures when you return and hey, that’s okay too. Travel will certainly show you who will stick around or keep in contact no matter what. I learnt this when I travelled my sister and I planned a mini Euro trip back in 2011. I received all of two phone calls and five messages and I knew then and there, this was my home team.
Your general knowledge will improve
There’s no better way to learn about the world than to experience it. Sure, you can read about it in a book but actually experiencing the meaning of lighting incense at a Chinese temple, learning how to cook a dish in Thailand or having an intense discussion with a Dutch man about European politics will certainly teach you more and help you develop an opinion faster.
You will learn more about your home country just by being away
While you’re out learning about new countries, you’re also going to learn more about your home country as well. The people you meet on the road are going to ask you questions about the culture, traditions and history surrounding where you come from. If you didn’t know it before, these questions will be sure to send you googling answers and you’ll certainly a fact or two along the way.
You will look for the differences around you and embrace them
Being in a new country means that everything around you is different and while that can be daunting, it can also be pretty exciting too. Embracing the differences of a new country will not only teach you to appreciate the little things but it will also show you how to sift out and embrace what it is that makes you happy.
You will appreciate the present and live each moment as it comes
Learning to appreciate the present can be pretty hard when everything around you seems monotonous and almost routine like. but exploring the crevices of a new country means that all your senses need to be alert. From the sights and smells to the strange noises and unexpected occurrences, everything around you is new and exciting, forcing you to be alert and take in as much as you can. Not only will you experience more but knowing what it feels like to have you senses awaken in such a way will send you searching for ways to keep those experiences alive.
You will learn how to appreciate the lessons in the bad things
Travel is not always a pleasant experience and it’s very likely that things can suddenly take a turn for the worse. Luggage may be lost, passports stolen or you may get food poisoning and end up in a non-English speaking hospital. Despite the fact that these can be pretty scary situations that you wouldn’t willingly put yourself in, you will learn to appreciate the lessons you learn along the way and hey, it makes for the funniest of stories years later.
You start to chase memories and moments, not things
Remember that time you danced under the stars in Greece? Or that time you climbed to the tenth tower of the Great Wall to prove you were a man (even though you’re a free-thinking independent woman!)? those are the memories that you’re going to remember twenty or even thirty years from now. Not the car you bought or the apartment you sold. Having such precious and unique travel memories to hold on to will teach you how to appreciate the rare moments in life.
You’ll learn to trust your instincts
One of the best lessons I’ve learnt through traveling is to trust that strange feeling in my gut. If it feels unsafe, it usually is and if everyone is saying no, but deep down it feels like the right thing to do, then just do it. No one knows your strengths, fears and capabilities better than you do and sometimes, despite what everyone else is telling you, you just need to listen to you.