How Traveling Changes You
Ohhhh, The Places You’ll Go! ~ Dr. Seuss
I was born in a small town in Northern Minnesota in an area called “The Iron Range”, heavy on mining and bars and not a whole lot to do for kids. Although we moved around a lot from town to town around the Range, I never really experienced a big city until I was around 10 or 11. When we finally drove down to the big city of Minneapolis and the first time I saw the skyscrapers, I was blown away.
I just had this feeling of awe in the pit of my stomach and a flutter in my heart.
I was always fascinated by new and exciting things, but nature has always been my home. I’d wander in the forests of Northern Minnesota for hours and bike the dirt roads discovering new land: trees, lakes, streams, little animals, and rocks of all kinds. As a quiet child, I observed. I observed people and wondered why they do what they do.
I thought in our small area of the world, this was what things were like—this was the “normal”. But I knew there was more out there than I was being told.
I read books with an unrelenting passion, and paged through National Geographic magazines. I looked at my unique animals of the world photo cards, and I dreamed. I wrote reports about Magellan the explorer and other explorers who fascinated me. I knew I wanted to explore the world and see these amazing things for myself. I just never thought it would actually happen.
Me, the poor small town girl, how could this be possible?
Fast forward to now, I might have to slap myself to believe I’ve been to over 50 countries in the world. And that I’ve photographed tribes in Ethiopia and anteaters in Brazil and gorillas in Uganda.
Things are never ever what you think they are going to be when you see photos, watch a TV show, or read a book about it. When you go there, YOU FEEL IT. You become one with it. Or at least I do. 😉
And sometimes it’s beautiful. And sometimes it’s downright awful.
But it’s reality—it’s the world we live in.
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
How Seeing the World Changes You
You feel more alive.
Nothing makes me feel more alive than travel. I know it’s not for everyone. Some people are really rooted in one place and/or have fears or responsibilities. And there is nothing wrong with that.
But, if you feel the calling, you feel the calling.
By nature, I’m bohemian and nomadic. It’s in my blood. When I’m in one place for too long, my spirit feels sick and my energy starts getting low. And I know then that I must get on the move. We’ve been leaving and coming back to our home in Minnesota and keeping our full time jobs while traveling on our vacation days to get our fix. It’s been the only way we could do it while saving up money and getting flight and hotel points to be able to even attempt to travel. But if there’s a will, there’s a way! Don’t give up hope no matter what.
You’ll be amazed at what can manifest!
You become more aware.
The world is huge, yet it’s small. What a paradox!
I’m more aware that things aren’t always as they are reported on the news or even close to what you learn in school. When you go somewhere and see it with your own eyes, something shifts inside. A whole new world opens up at every turn. Your heart beats with anticipation. Your soul awakens to new possibilities. Especially if you hang out with locals, go off the beaten track and away from all the tourist traps.
You also become more aware of human destruction like pollution and littering, wildlife becoming endangered, forests being cut down, people living in extreme poverty and awful conditions. And kids are everywhere, some with no clothing, no shelter, no food. It rips my heart open seeing these things. But I’m bearing witness to what is going on. Going home and forgetting about it won’t change anything.
Raising awareness to issues has become of utmost importance to me. Along with finding ways to help out in any way possible while I’m on this Earth… it’s all about creating the least amount of harm. Sometimes it feels like we can never do enough, but just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean we can’t do something.
You feel more connected.
We are all in this together. All beings on Earth just feel the need to survive, and no matter where you are or who you are, you have this distinct need. We also all feel a need for play and relaxation and connecting with each other.
Borders are just man-made illusions.
Even if you don’t speak another’s language, you can feel a connection. You can smile, you can hug, you can laugh and sing together. You can share and volunteer. These are moments that truly matter in life.
You get hands-on education.
Learning becomes a “can not be avoided” automatic process. Everywhere you go in a new strange place, your senses become extra sensitive. Acutely taking in new information at every turn, sometimes it’s hard to keep up! I like keeping a journal and taking photos helps so I don’t forget things. Other times, I just want to live in the moment and let it be as is.
Even when I come home, it seems my senses are still opened up to the point where I see new things at home and become more interested about what’s going on locally and what can be learned and what can be achieved.
Mostly, I just realize how much I DON’T KNOW. There’s just so much I just don’t know and never will. It’s humbling.
Your heart fills with gratitude.
Not only do I become so thankful due to seeing so many beautiful people, places and scenery, but I become more thankful for being born in the country and life I was born into.
I’m grateful for making it through a day without suffering.
Seeing suffering in the world is so hard. I could go into a depression (and sometimes I do), but then I more than ever realize how I shouldn’t take life for granted. It’s difficult as I’ve seen kids living on the side of the road with no house, no bathroom, nothing. I’ve seen women forced into prostitution living on a street in India. I’ve seen animals in filthy cages and animals drugged and forced for photos non-stop at roadside attractions. I’ve seen forests burning down to clear way for plantations and more human growth and consumption. I’ve seen men working for pennies a day in conditions where their feet burn and they breathe in fumes that will give them cancer. Seeing these things forever changed me. I will never forget it. So, I see my little complaints about life really aren’t that big in the giant worldly scheme of things. All I can do now is be grateful and come up with ways to give back.
I must say that I’m also grateful for all the love that I’ve seen in the world. I’ve seen communities of people gather together for celebration. I’ve seen tears of joy from wedding ceremonies. I’ve seen people rescuing animals and people picking up garbage. I’ve seen trees being planted and hugs from strangers. I’ve seen homeless people respected instead of shunned. There is hope. One thing I do know is there is hope!
How has traveling changed YOU?
I’d love to hear your comments. 🙂
Peace. Love. Travel.