I recently saw a simple quote, a list of words really, that so resonated with me.
Travel. Learn. Grow.
Those words brilliantly capture what I love about traveling and why my heart sings when I visit new places. As I pondered the quote I came up with six ways travel helps me grow.
How travel helps me learn and grow
I had the opportunity last year to visit four countries…Italy, Ireland, Scotland and England…during two separate trips. This is what I learned.
1. Strangers can become family. I traveled to Italy in the company of my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan. We joined with a group of other travelers from around the world. Not only did I learn new things as a result of the Italian culture, I learned from the people in the tour group. How amazing and enlightening to see Italy through my own eyes, and through the eyes of Australians, Iranians and a couple from India. Our diverse group very quickly formed strong family bonds.
2. Family can be strange. Just kidding! If we are strange, we consider that Divine. I traveled with a group on my second trip as well, all family members. I learned that it is very doable for five people to plan a trip that makes everyone happy. Ensuring each person has a say in the itinerary and gets to select favorite activities is important. We watched out for each other, listened, and made compromises if necessary. Above all, we looked for the adventure in each day.
3. Adventures appear in unexpected ways. Go with the flow. Elissa, Dayan and I learned this truth immediately when storms in the Charlotte, North Carolina area caused our plane to reroute. As a result we missed our overseas flight. I had the choice of railing against what happened or staying open and watching for other opportunities. When we let go of expected outcomes and stayed open, miracles happened. We were among the few who flew out of Charlotte that night, thanks to the appearance of an angel named Jason who got us onboard a plane bound for London.
4. Getting lost can lead to finding what one is truly searching for. In Scotland my brave sister Debbie drove us all over the country in a rental car. When the GPS system went awry, we ended up off our chosen route. And yet that’s when the magic happened and we encountered sights we did not expect to see. Because of our wandering, I got to cross several places and attractions off my wish list.
5. Embracing new experiences guarantees that more will arrive. When traveling in a country for the first time, every sight, every experience is new. The food is different. The language requires concentration, even when it’s heavily accented English. And the culture is fresh whether it is ancient or constantly changing.
The less preconceived ideas I have about what I will experience, the more I learn and grow. In Italy I initially wasn’t excited about visiting the churches and cathedrals. These magnificent structures are the heart of every city and town, village and piazza. The architecture and the museum quality art within astonished and moved me. I would have missed incredible sights and opportunities if I had dismissed visiting those basilicas and chapels.
6. Travel enriches my life and expands my soul. For me, nothing in this life is more expansive than seeing new places and meeting new people. The history, the magic, the mystery and noise and spirit of a place, all call to me. Each country that I visited has ancient stories, symbols, songs and art. It’s more than knowledge that I collect as I travel, it’s a knowing, a recognizing, and a greater awareness of the richness and diversity of life. I love watching people. And I love taking time for solitude and deep inner reflection.
Where to Travel to Next
For me, there are many reasons to travel. Learning and growing and becoming more expansive tops my list of why I travel and why I long to experience more. Wandering is in my blood, exploring in my DNA.
I am creating a life that allows my heart, soul and body to be untethered and free to roam about the planet. These six ways that travel helps me grow is just a beginning, as is the list of countries I intend to visit.
There are many places I want to explore and get to know. I have so much more to learn.