What Traveling Teaches You: Life Lessons from the Road: For a young traveler, perhaps a student on holiday or one studying abroad, the chance to explore a new part of the world is priceless – an adventure not to be missed. From Honduras to the Himalayas, from Patagonia to Panama, from Norway to Nicaragua, there are lessons to be learned, memories to tuck away for safe keeping and new understandings to help you forge your path. Here are a few things to think about along the way, a checklist, if you will, of things to remind yourself of on the journey:
- Keep an open mind. This is a big overarching item. It allows all the rest to happen.
- Don’t expect to be comfortable. You are going to someplace new and, perhaps, greatly different from home. There may be no air conditioning, no bug repellent, no corner market for those few things you forgot to pack. You may have to do without, but you’ll manage. These discomforts, whatever they may be, are temporary.
- Don’t cling to a schedule. Your best-laid plans may go out the window quickly if the public transportation doesn’t run on time – and in some places, it doesn’t – or your city bus breaks down – which happens more than you think. There may be long lines for the attraction you want to see and the other sites on your list must be skipped. Be flexible. Enjoy where you are, and the days’ experiences – good and bad. When you look back, you may find that distinction changes with time anyway.
- Take it all in. Wherever you go, wherever your travels lead, take it all in. Listen. Look around you. Take in the sights, sounds, and smells. Sit still for a while in a piazza or in a park, and people watch; it’s one of the best ways to absorb the local culture.
- Talk to the locals. Learn enough of the language to be able to speak a few key phrases if indeed you are traveling to a country that speaks a language different than your own. Talking to people, getting a sense of their lives, their culture, their interests, and concerns, can be eye-opening. It teaches you more than any textbook or guidebook ever can.
- Eat and shop like a local. Find out where the locals eat and eat there. Find out where the locals shop and shop there. To gain an authentic experience, it is always best to do as the locals do. You’ll go home with souvenirs that are to be treasured, and experience cuisine, unlike anything you have before.
- Be respectful. Every country, every culture is different. Be respectful of those differences, even if you don’t fully understand or agree with them. You don’t have to participate personally.
- Appreciate the experience. Traveling can be a joy. It can provide so many new experiences and exposure you to new cultures and traditions. Treasure these experiences and the education they bring you. All of it will be rewarding, especially if you’ve kept your mind open through the journey.