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8 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Traveling

8 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Traveling

I grew up in small town America, so I had never traveled outside the country until recently. I took an amazing trip to Costa Rica a few years ago to meet up with my college-aged daughter, who was finishing up a foreign study program.

Here’s a look at some of the lessons I came home with, after my initiation into the hectic world of traveling, as I wandered around in a foreign country for 10 days of sightseeing with my daughter. I admit that my experience was somewhat idealistic because I went to an American friendly country.

If you are planning a trip, be prepared for a new and exciting, yet unpredictable experience.

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Here are 8 valuable lessons I learned from traveling:

1. Expect the unexpected

The first and most important thing I learned from my experience was to expect the unexpected. You never know what is going to happen when you are traveling. When you are an inexperienced traveler, you are immediately thrown into a situation where you do not always know what to do. It’s easy to become anxious when you don’t know what is coming up next, but I learned to just be patient and let things unfold. For instance, you can be sure that things will never go as you planned them. Flights will be delayed, some of your luggage might get confiscated, or you might not know where your next meal is coming from. Be prepared financially for unexpected things, because you will probably spend more money than you planned on.

2. Relax and Have Fun

Experienced travelers learn very quickly to adapt to new situations and new environments. It may be easy to forget that you are there to relax and enjoy yourself.  Relaxation is one of the top benefits of travel.  Be sure to make time each day to just sit, take in the view and unwind from all your sightseeing activities. It can be exciting exploring new places and taking it all in.  I also recommend talking to as many people as you can, because you are thrown together with them (usually in the close quarters of a plane, train or bus). Just enjoy wherever you are, and take things in as they happen. Be open to meeting new people and having new experiences wherever you go. You will learn unexpected things that way. So, you might as well relax wherever you are, and have a good time, especially when things do not go as planned, like if you become stranded at a large airport for hours on end with nothing to do but wait.

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3. Learn to be spontaneous

Being spontaneous is an art that must be acquired. Not everyone can do it, so traveling is a good way to learn the skill. You will find yourself in new and changing situations with no predictable outcome. You will see things in other countries that you do not expect. Some things you will enjoy and others will make you uncomfortable. That is because you are thrown outside of your normal routine, so you are naturally out of your comfort zone, and completely away from all the people (or most) of the people you know and talk to everyday. When circumstances force you to change your plans, the best thing is just to go with the flow and do whatever seems logical. I guarantee that most days will be different than anything you can image ahead of time.

4. Enjoy new people

Being in new countries and around strangers all the time can be stressful and it will make you feel like you are on another planet. It can make you uncomfortable because you don’t know anyone. And, there might be barriers to communication, like when everyone around you speaks another language, that you do not know.

Here is where you must simply trust in people. Have faith that most people you meet will be pleasant to deal with. If you are in a country where Americans are treated well, you should be ok going anywhere. Your attitude is the most important thing when you meet new people. You may not be able to understand them, but there are ways to communicate that don’t require words. You will gain the most if you just show them respect as human beings. Learn how to enjoy being around new people and don’t be afraid to talk to them.

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    5. Live in the moment

    Most people are used to doing the same routine in their lives, day in and day out. We get used to our jobs, our friends, and our usual places that we go for fun. Traveling takes you away from all that. It throws you up on a beach like a fish out of water. But, this is a good thing. Why? Because it makes you feel more alive. You learn to trust your instincts in a new situation and allow yourself to just appreciate each moment for what it is. You take a deep breath by the sea, you walk barefoot on the beach, you see things you have never seen before and it wakes you up, as if the rest of your life was a dream. When you learn to be in the moment of right now, you are more aware of everything going on around you. You are more observant. You see and experience the newness of each day.

    6. Respect other cultures

    When you travel outside of your world and go to another country, you will notice right away the cultural differences. People might dress differently. They may do everyday things that you don’t expect. They might communicate in a language you don’t know and their lives may appear to be so unfamiliar to you. Here you learn to respect who people are. You see them and acknowledge that they live in a world apart from you, and you learn to be non-judgemental about them. You see them and it changes you on the inside. It makes you think about the world on a bigger scale. It makes you more aware of some of the ways that other people struggle in their lives.

    7. There is beauty in everything

    Traveling is fun. You see beauty in the most unexpected places. You never know what you will see next. This is exciting, and it changes you, making you more observant of everything going on around you. Here is where you gain so many valuable memories. You want to enjoy your trip, so you naturally do all you can do to make it a good experience. You take photographs of all the things you want to remember. It becomes almost an obsession to capture as much as you can about the places you visit. This is one of the most enjoyable things about traveling. You may even find that the way food is prepared and presented can be beautiful as well.

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      8. Appreciate the life you have

      One of the biggest lessons I learned from traveling is simply to appreciate the simple things about the life I have. I appreciate all the things I used to take for granted before I traveled. I know now how fortunate I am.

      I appreciate my loved ones more than ever. I appreciate modern conveniences, like driving a nice car, living in a comfortable house, having a cold drink, and a warm bed. I appreciate being able to buy anything I want and get any type of food I want at just about any time of day. I appreciate all the laws of my country and all the public officials that make them. And I appreciate the cleanliness of my city and most public places that I go to every day. I have a great life just where I’m at, and I appreciate everything about it because I went away.

      Coming home

      One of the best things about traveling is returning home to your life again. You come home to the people who love you and count on you. But you are richer because of the great memories you made. You have learned a few things. You have seen new places and you know how to expect the unexpected, relax and have fun, to be spontaneous, enjoy new people, and live in the moment. You can respect other cultures, see beauty in everything and appreciate more fully the life that you have.

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      Karen Bresnahan

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      Last Updated on December 2, 2019

      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

      Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

      In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

      These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

      1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

      Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

      But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

      Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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      2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

      You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

      The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

      3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

      If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

      Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

      If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

      4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

      Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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      To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

      In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

      5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

      We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

      If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

      Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

      “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

      6. Give for the Joy of Giving

      When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

      One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

      So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

      7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

      Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

      Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

      8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

      When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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      So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

      9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

      Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

      It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

      It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

      10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

      There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

      But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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      Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

      More About Living a Fulfilling Life

      Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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