Traveling the world has been one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had, especially since it’s taught me so much about myself and the world. Visiting different countries has changed who I am, and after a bunch of trips around the globe, I live and love differently.
I grew to desire experiences over things. When I traveled, I was choosing each of my experiences. I handpicked my trip to India because of the rich culture, amazing food, and interaction with Tibetan Buddhist monks. I even got to see the Dalai Lama speak in his home temple. This laid the foundation for desiring experiences over things. For presents, I now gift concert tickets or amusement park tickets instead of physical things!
I gained a worldly perspective. Before traveling, I had the perspective I grew up with in small-town New Hampshire. College helped to stretch my perspective a bit, but nothing like traveling did. It opened my mind to a world of views, experiences, and livelihoods that differed from mine. I witnessed new religious practices, ways of cooking, and even simplicities of conversation that I had never seen before. This helps now when dating in the city I live in because I meet people from all over the world and I don’t expect them to be just like me.
I learned to be flexible when things don’t go as planned. In traveling, plans inevitably go wrong. It’s almost a rite of passage for travel plans or something else to be messed up. I had to learn to go with the flow, otherwise I caused myself a bunch of unnecessary stress. This same thought process can be applied to dating. I’ve learned that dating is not always going to go how I’d like it to (and in fact, it seldom does). The more flexible I can be, while still holding my deal-breakers in mind, the better off I am.
I have great stories to tell. I’m not going to lie — people think I’m super cool. They’re like, “What?! You spent time with children in Uganda?” I have no shortage of awesome stories to tell about my travels around the globe. There are some people who never get the guts to go to a third-world country, so they love hearing about my experiences. Plus, when you’re traveling in other countries, it’s inevitable that weird and story-worthy happenings occur.
I’m more willing to be spontaneous. There’s a reason people say “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Weird things can happen while you’re vacationing. Once I was on a tropical island with my boyfriend and a random Rastafarian sold us marijuana that we ended up smoking on the beach. When I traveled, there were spontaneous opportunities that couldn’t be passed up and this taught me to also be spontaneous at home.
I gained confidence after stepping outside my comfort zone. It may be riding on a scooter in Africa, going to a hookah bar in India, or drinking a beer at 8 a.m. in Germany, but traveling was sure to toss me outside of my comfort zone. Having new experiences that challenged my comfort level gave me a new-found confidence to use in other ways when I was home. These experiences made it easier to ask out a stranger or to try a funky spot for a date.
I see both my insignificance and significance. Seeing the vastness of the mountains in California made me lose my breath. It reminded me how small and insignificant I am. At the same time, traveling and connecting with all different kinds of people reminded me how significant I am and that I’m capable of relating to many people. Bringing this into my love life, I know that I’m both really important as well as just another person.
I learned to appreciate the little things. Some of my favorite moments from my trips were seemingly small experiences. For example, I remember being stuck three to a bed when I was staying in Uganda and one of my bedmates wouldn’t stop farting. We were all laughing so hard! Relationships are like that, too. We remember the large gestures and big moments, but the day-to-day experiences also stick out as important.
I learned to love my own company. Loneliness is an unexpected aspect of traveling. It’s to be expected during solo travel, which I’ve done, but it even happens when traveling with a partner, friends, or family. Everyone is having their own experience, so I have to shape mine to be one that I want to remember. I’m responsible for much of my own joy and enjoyment. Life and relationships are like that, too. Although two people are in the relationship, both individuals are having their own experiences that they’re shaping themselves. I had to learn to love my own company.
I got accustomed to living in the present moment. When traveling, I’m so excitable. Everything is new and I’m drinking in sights I’ll never see again. It really taught me to be present with my experiences. Back at home, I try to treat relationships the same way. When I’m on dates, I leave my phone tucked away and I give the person my attention as if I’ll never be in the same moment again… because I won’t.