woman standing behind Eiffel Tower during daytime

5 Valuable Lessons I Learned While Traveling

We see and hear quotes every day stating that travel is the greatest teacher. We meet and know people that have ventured over to other countries, returning with exciting stories and telling us that going to another country has opened their eyes.

I never really understood it until I went venturing out into the big wide world, and upon return, everyone that I knew told me that I had changed. Not in a bad way, but they all said I had grown so much from when they last saw me.

Everybody changes throughout their journey and everybody grows at their own pace. We just don’t seem to really notice it until we take a moment and reflect on who we are now compared to the person we were last year or the year before.

I have only been to 26 countries (and counting), and I know there are many other people in the world that have been to a hell of a lot more than I have, but I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the top five things I have learned from my travels so far.

1. Every Single Person Is Beautiful In Their Own Individual Way

Throughout your travels, you meet so many interesting people along the way. I did find, however, that I met a lot more people when I traveled alone than when I went with friends. I think this is more so because when you are alone, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and make friends with whoever you can, otherwise you will have a pretty boring time. What is the point of going overseas to not meet another person from that country?

You meet all sorts of characters. Funny, serious, classy, rude, obnoxious, shy, friendly—you name it, you will meet them. What I did find was once you got to know them on a deeper level, we were all very similar. We all had our fears and insecurities, we all had our dreams and desires, and we all wanted the same thing. I had a realization that every human being I have met on this planet thus far all wanted to feel valued and wanted. We all want to feel like we are appreciated in some kind of way.

Once I realized this, I learned to look past the flaws and the walls people had built for themselves and learned to see the beauty within them. I learned that every single person deep down really did have a big heart, some just didn’t know how to show it as well as others.

Our journeys and past experiences mold us into the person we are now. Some people have experienced such turmoil and just haven’t come to terms and healed from it. We are all messed up in some kind of way. No one is perfect, but we are all so beautiful in our own individuality. We just express it differently.

2. You Really Don’t Need Much To Survive

When you are jumping from one country to the next, you really don’t want to be carrying a great deal with you. I’ve learned to ditch the 5,000 outfits, the several pairs of shoes, all the gadgets, and whatever else I was used to having so accessible.

I’ve actually become a pro and am renowned for packing my bags within the hour of leaving for the airport. All I really need is clean underwear, a few outfit changes, bikinis, some toiletries, a hairbrush, a jacket, running shoes, sandals, nice shoes (in case I go out somewhere that I need to be dressed up at), my phone, camera (I must take photos of EVERYTHING), house keys, and passport.

I have realized that we really don’t need much with us, epecially when you are too busy watching sunsets, going on adventures, tasting exotic food, and experiencing new and exciting moments.

3. The Little Things Can Sometimes Be The Most Priceless

When we are at home in our comfortable surroundings, sometimes we forget to appreciate the little things, like watching the sun rise or set, noticing the people around us and the emotions they are feeling, having a proper bathroom and toilet, or the warmth of our own bed—I really could go on.

After experiencing some amazing sunrises and sunsets all over the world, when I am back home, I always try to take a moment to watch the sun rise or set and just enjoy the beauty. You don’t need to be overseas to it—it’s there every day, wherever you are. Just admiring the world and something so natural for even a minute can elevate your mood.

One of my favorite past times when I am overseas is to people watch. I love sitting at a cafe or restaurant and just watching those around me. Even at airports you see so many people saying goodbye and the farewells filled with tears. It is one of those places filled with emotion. People are jetting off somewhere full of excitement, saying a sad goodbye to a dear one, or coming back from a business trip tired and flustered. Sometimes, when we are at home, we forget to notice others around us.  The world is a beautiful place, and there are so many emotions around us.

How about when you get home and finally get into your warm, cozy bed? How good does it feel after sleeping on several different, some uncomfortable beds? And hooray, a proper bathroom! If you ever find yourself in a third world country, a toilet with toilet paper is a blessing we definitely take for granted.

4. We Never Remember What People Do For Us, We Remember How They Made Us Feel

When you travel, you meet so many people. You form many friendships, some for a short period of time, some that can last a lifetime. You learn that people will come and go in your life. The ones that do leave an imprint are the ones who made you feel either really good or really bad.

Along my journey, I have met some people who I will forever hold dear in my heart. They are those genuine souls that I know will be a friend for life. The people that you had the best days with and were there through some bad days. The ones that you laughed with until your bellies hurt and the ones that held your hair up because you had too much to drink.

You also do remember those that you only had a brief encounter with but had such a beautiful aura about them. It’s nice to know there are genuine people out there and it’s a blessing to meet them. On the other hand, the ones that gave us bad vibes or made us feel uncomfortable in any kind of way are also people we remember.

From learning this, I try my best to consciously be aware of how I can make another feel. For I know this is how they will always remember me. As an old saying goes, it’s not where you go, it’s who you meet along the way.

5. You Will Be Much Happier If You Appreciate What You Have

After experiencing a few different cultures, the one thing I noticed the most was that the people from third world countries seemed to smile more at you. They didn’t have much, yet they were always smiling when you walked by. They appreciated what they did have and they were genuinely happy.

I also found that the majority of those in third world countries were the most generous. They knew what it was like to have nothing, so they never wanted to see somebody else go without. If they only had a banana to eat, they would split it and offer you the other half.

Sometimes we get so stuck in our ways of society and the rat race we find ourselves in that we forget to stop and appreciate just how much we really have. If we have a roof over our head, a bed to sleep in, and can eat every day, we are richer than the millions of other people in the world. We get so caught up in what we want and what we don’t have that we forget to notice what we do have. Which really is a lot. We really are blessed.

There is a practice that the Law of Attraction has taught me and that is to take five minutes of your day to count your blessings. Every morning and before I go to sleep, I take a moment and say thanks to the fact I woke up and I am still alive and healthy. I give thanks for my family and friends. I thank the universe that I have a roof over my head and I have all the necessities I need. I also reflect on how far I have come as a person and let that feeling of gratitude rush over me. Since starting this practice, I really must say life has changed for the better. Something has shifted and I highly recommend you try it for yourself, I would love to hear how it affects you.

About the author
Just a girl who turned her weaknesses into her strengths Follow Maz on Instagram or read more articles from Maz on Thought Catalog.

Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about page.

Related