In life, most of us have developed some kind of routine. We get up, go to school or work, eat lunch, come home, and do it again the next day. It’s not a bad thing — routine is a part of life. But when it comes to personal growth, sometimes it’s best to change your routine—at least for a short while.
One thing that does expand horizons? Travel. With amazing moments and pressing challenges, traveling has taught me so much about the world — and about myself. I fell in love with travel because it’s been a better teacher than any college class I’ve ever taken. Here’s what traveling taught me about myself:
1. It’s ok to get nervous.
Messy things happen when you travel such as not having the right change to catch a night bus and there’s no way that you can avoid every incident, no matter how meticulously you plan. But even though I know this and I’ll continue to repeat this to myself in my head anytime I become nervous about something, I still worry more than I should.
I’ve found that no matter how many old-school travel writers I read, I don’t have the same calmness that they have and I may never have that. But I’ve also found that these ups and downs that happen while traveling make it exciting and add another dimension to life that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I think the adrenaline rush is healthy and helps us grow.
2. Money doesn’t have to be the limiting factor.
I’m a university student — meaning that I’m just as broke as the person next to me. Traveling on a budget can be scary at times, but certainly not impossible. Mastering the local public transportation system and cooking when I can help me extend my trips and stay on budget. By taking the extra time to live within my means, it’s done wonders to make travel a reality. On top of this, I’ve become increasingly inspired by companies that make living life on a budget actually possible.
Companies like Earnest can help you take control and lower your student loan payments, or help fund big life moments — like travel or moving across the country — with a low-interest personal loan. Travel companies like Airbnb and Ryanair offer services that help people see the world’s cities and sights —ideally, for less. If you’re keen on sticking to a budget, budget tool Mint can help you formulate a plan and stay on track. And Acorns makes it easier to invest while you’re home and abroad.
3. Take time to appreciate the small things.
Before I traveled, it always seemed like I was in a rush from this thing or the next. My mind was rushing even faster and it would burn me out. But now that I’ve traveled, as cliché as it sounds, I can see the beauty in the small things of life, like when I see a young couple enjoying a cup of coffee whilst speaking in a foreign language or a tourist taking a photo of a place they have been longing to see for years.
I understand that life isn’t about meetings or other commitments. It’s about enjoying yourself and doing whatever you can to make sure you’re able to do that.
4. You’re braver than you think.
I just moved to Scotland for the next 3.5 months. Upon beginning my journey, I thought I would be scared to be on my own in a foreign country for so long — but I surprised myself. When I arrived, I realized that there was nothing to be scared of. Not only is it easy to settle into life here, the people are incredibly generous and kind. So while you may find that it’s nerve-wracking to travel to another country, my guess is that you’ll surprise yourself as well.
5. We’re all just trying to figure life out.
The truth is, I still don’t know what I want in life. And travel has made me realize that even more clearly. The world is a big place and I’m just a tiny piece of it. So will I still be doing the same thing five years from now? I don’t know. But while travel has made me understand that I still have a lot of figuring out to do, it’s also helping me understand that that’s okay and there’s no rush.
Travel is a wonderful thing. As I write this, I’m sitting in a castle (that I have the wonderful honor to live in) and I’m overlooking Scottish families play with their little dogs and this moment, this beautiful moment, only comes once in awhile in our day to day life. So my advice to you is to go travel and let the world teach you something about yourself. What you learn may just surprise you.