The Teachings of Travel

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I am again blessed with the opportunity to travel.  The pennies have been saved, the sacrifices made, the specials scoured, and now, the next trip is booked.  It’s just a couple months away.

Travel can include everything, from a weekend road trip, to an overseas holiday, and there are lessons that come with each and every trip.

Recently, the article Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels caused a bit of controversy.  It struck a nerve with those who missed its good intentions behind the sarcastic wording, and for having a bit of fun with stereotyping travellers.  But it also provoked for the right reason: it showed how travel can help us grow.  Of course, it wasn’t long before Date a Boy Who Travels appeared in the press.

These articles touch on life experiences, cravings for lessons in personal growth and the sacrifices made to get there.  They focus on experiences, not material possessions; days at the zoo instead of nights at the club; independence, challenging the norm, following your heart, being yourself and doing what you can to make your dreams come true, even if you have to do it on your own. They remind us of the importance of living in the present, what we can learn from strangers and how to keep ourselves safe and be open to the experiences life has to offer, even if they lead to broken-heartedness now and then.  After all, there is always a lesson in heartbreak.

I am a girl who travels.  I travel by walking around town on the weekend, and by going to the far corners of the earth.  I am excited about this next trip.  I know how fortunate I am to have these opportunities, and I am eager to learn the lessons that they offer.

During one of my trips, on an island in Vanuatu, I saw the friendliest faces.  Children ran out of the trees, waving, as I was driven past them, sitting in a chair tied down at the back of a ute.  The houses on this island were mostly made of palm leaves.  A couple of them had old cement walls, and I soon recognised that these were the well-off people of the island.  There was no shopping, no Internet; really, these kids just had the clothes on their backs and the games they made up together and played in the open spaces.  Yet they smiled the widest; their faces were amongst the happiest I have ever seen.  And their laughs were contagious.  To be amongst this, to feel it, was awakening.  I felt ashamed to have ever just wandered the shops, and it really impacted me how fortunate I was to have my own bed, a roof to protect me from the elements and three meals a day.

But it isn’t just the third world counties that teach us lessons.  I look for the lesson in each of my travels.  I appreciate different customs and the uses of different foods, experience the different day-to-day routines and the beauty in all people—oh, and the kindness of a stranger.

I have learned to look for the good in people, and that despite the sharp edges we feel daily, those around us are doing the best they can with what they have or are going through.  In general, no hurt is intended, and support should be offered more freely.  I have learned, despite my own struggles, how to be kind, how to apologise voluntarily and, if someone has done me wrong, how to calmly walk away if need be.

I have learned my worth and how to continue to practice not letting low self-confidence get me down.  I have listened in the quiet for what I need to wait for, and gained the confidence to hold out for it.  I am learning that making dreams come true takes a lot of hard work, every day, but is rewarding beyond description.

And with this first trip of being my first entirely on my own, I am learning that I am strong, focused, determined and full of love to offer this beautiful world and all the people in it.  I will look for the open hands and share my good fortune.  I cannot wait to share a laugh somewhere unknown to me now, with someone I have yet to meet, and make a new friend.  I am ready to soar.

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