Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. It is a time for family, food and football. It is also a time for giving thanks. So today, R and I reflect, give thanks to travel and share the parts of traveling we are grateful for.
Thanks to travel from B:
See beautiful things
Whether you enjoy tropical islands or vast mountain ranges, deserts or oceans, star-filled skies or sunsets that take your breath away (or all of the above), there is so much beauty in this world. I have been very fortunate in my life to see and experience Mother Nature at her best. I have also enjoyed some beautiful man-made creations. Often, there are no words to describe these experiences and I am certainly inept at capturing them on camera. However, beautiful places are difficult to forget (thank goodness) and make traveling so much sweeter. I am grateful for all of the beautiful things I have seen on my travels and I am looking forward to seeing many more.
Get out of your comfort zone
Traveling makes me uncomfortable. A lot. It may well be the only time in my life I actively and willingly put myself out of my comfort zone over and over again. I do so because the reward is so much greater than the uncomfortable sensation. Plus, there is something so empowering about facing unknown situations and working your way through the challenges they present—sometimes more successfully than others. For example, operating a car from the right side of the vehicle while driving on the left side of the highway without getting into an accident is one of the most challenging things I have done. However, having done so a couple of times now, I am not nearly so overwhelmed and I like that I have that experience under my belt. Every trip I go on causes me to stretch and grow as a person. And I think that is pretty cool.
Having a travel buddy is wonderful. I would travel the world by myself if I had to; thankfully, I don’t. R is always up for an adventure—something that can sometimes be hard to find in a friend. I am also grateful that we get along so well, even in times of stress. Travel is not always a piece of cake. Things go wrong, flights get delayed, you get tired and hungry, etc. Pick the wrong travel companion and you might ruin your trip…or your friendship. If you have a travel buddy like mine, you are blessed indeed. Those times out on the road are what have made us, and our friendship, what it is today. And I am forever grateful. (Looking for a travel buddy? Read my post on tips for choosing the right travel companion.)
Gain new perspectives, empathy and understanding
Perspective is a little tough to gain when you grow up in a small town. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my childhood and the experiences I had growing up in the country. But I am so grateful for experiences and a life outside of that small town. Mark Twain wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” Without my travels, I may have kept too much of my small-town mindset. It would not have been intentional, but perhaps unavoidable. Thankfully, I had a teacher who introduced me to travel while I was young and I have never looked back. I have a long ways to go before I am the person I want to be. But thanks to travel, I am further along that I would be without it.
Meet new people
I am not the biggest people-person on the planet. In fact, I am a bona fide introvert. However, I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet new and interesting people all over the world. Meeting both locals and other travelers has enriched my life and made me a better person. I love asking locals questions about their home city/state/country. You learn more from them than you can ever learn from a guidebook. In Brisbane, Australia, I stayed with a couple and their greyhound dog. They took me into their home and were so genuine and open, it was impossible not to like them. I learned so much about Brisbane as well as their everyday way of life—not to mention the great recommendations for food and fun they provided.
Other travelers inspire me. They usually have a good story or two. But better yet, they have great recommendations on where to travel next. Plus, there is usually a sense of comradery and understanding right off the bat. It is rare to feel an instant connection and bond with someone so quickly. But out on the road, it happens frequently. I do not necessarily stay in contact with everyone I meet, but I enjoy my time immensely and I always leave them feeling grateful for the influence they have had on my life.
Thanks to travel from R:
Really learn things
Isn’t it funny how people can tell you things a hundred times, but until you experience it for yourself it doesn’t really sink in? I see that time and again when I travel. I’ve always loved learning about history (heck, I even have a college degree in it). But even after you study certain topics, they slip from your mind when other things come in. If you really want to cement it in your memory, you gotta go visit the place. I never could keep straight my ancient American cultures until I actually visited. I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to go visit places I’ve read about sitting in a classroom. Now I’ll always remember Incas are Peru, Mayas are the Yucatan and some day I’ll lock in the Aztecs in Mexico. (#travelgoals)
Eat delicious food
One of the very best things about travel is that you get to eat so many delicious things. How can one not be grateful for that gelato I ate every day in Italy, or that pineapple in Guatemala or yogurt in Iceland?
Insights into who you are
Whenever you are put in new situations you’ll learn something about yourself. It’s inevitable you’ll be in new situations when you travel, so guess what, you’re gonna learn something about yourself when you step out of that car or off that plane or airplane. When I went to Europe with my friends, I became the de facto orienteer. It was pretty clear early on that I was the best we had when it came to getting us places. Making sure we didn’t get lost (at least too much) came pretty easily to me. Who knew? Until you are placed in a situation where you have to do something you won’t know what you are capable of.
B and I travel for lots of reasons, but first and foremost is that it is fun. We have a good time and laugh a bunch. And the great thing about experiencing funny things is that they last forever. Sometimes B and I pull out our old travel journals just so we can relive the funny things that happened.
Remind you how good you have it
When you travel to a foreign country, it doesn’t take long to realize how good we have it in the ol’ U.S. of A. There are so many people all over the world who are less fortunate than the two of us Janes in Idaho. When B and I visited Morocco, we were struck by the fact that we rarely saw women out and about. This contrasted strongly with the number of men we saw…hanging out at all the corner cafes, shooting the breeze. You know these guys’ wives were either working or taking care of the kids while they chilled with their bros. Yep, I know this is culturally insensitive of me to say, but come on, why do women have to do lame stuff and men get to sit around? I’m so glad I live in a country where I can live on my own, get a job and spend my money on whatever I want.
When it comes to our lives, we have a lot to be thankful for. That is especially true in regards to the traveling we do. Today, we give thanks to travel and say thank you to the road and everything it has taught us.