i live paycheck to paycheck. travel for me, like so many, is a luxury. and yet, the more i travel, the more i realize it is an essential aspect of my personal growth. so much so that it has caused me to rethink my finances to determine the resources i need to be able to experiences places outside of where i call home. whether near or far, i have found that traveling adds a richness to my life that cannot be achieved otherwise. i have been afforded some grand travel opportunities, for both personal and professional reasons, and for this i am grateful. the lessons of travel can range from wonderful to challenging, from renewing to exhausting. the ying and yang of travel is what makes it such a enriching growth opportunity.
i strive to be the best version of myself that i can be. some days are way easier than others. but traveling helps with this goal in so many ways. time in the car can be an ideal opportunity for conversation if i’m with others, or great thinking time if i’m solo. train and plane rides are stretches of time to write or read. dealing with the not-so-fun logistics of travel – security lines, delayed flights, missing rental cars, going through customs, dealing with the impatient or crazed other travelers – are all opportunities to test patience. i am able to unravel stereotypes of people and places by seeing things with my own eyes. getting out of my comfort zone – seeing and experiencing how others speak, eat, interact, live – stretches my mind and allows me to expand how i view myself, others, and my place in the world. i don’t always need to go far to accomplish this. if i choose to backpack in the woods a couple of hours from my house, my eyes and ears are open to the beauty of nature. i realize how something so small at home (like access to water) is vital and not to be taken for granted. each time i travel, whether near or far, i am able to uncover little and big revelations about myself. my levels of confidence, my privilege, my friendliness, my fears, my insecurities, my preconceived notions, my ability to be a forward thinker (or not), my assertiveness.
in recent months, i realized the value of making it a priority to visit friends and loved ones in their home. it brings a greater understanding of who they are, experiencing where and how they carve out their little places in the world. and when i return home, i feel a bond across the miles, no matter the distance, because i opened myself up and joined them in their space, even for the shortest bit of time. having just returned from a visit with loved ones on the west coast – which feels a world away from snowy new england – i am again awakened by the lessons the gift of travel continue to teach me. . .