As of this writing, I have been to 63 countries and every US State, (except The Dakotas).
I didn’t plan it. Growing up with an English-Cherokee Indian father and a Vietnamese-Chinese mother in places like Utah, Germany and Alaska, will do that to you. Traveling at a young age, it gets ingrained in your DNA. It opens your mind to new perspectives.
From all of my travels, here are some life lessons I have learned.
I grew up in Alaska. You can’t get more remote from the rest of the United States than that. When I was in high school, I competed in beauty pageants. I never thought I had a chance when I competed in nationals because I was, “from the sticks.” What’s a country girl from Alaska know about clothes? Beauty? Makeup? Not much. I was always surprised at placing or winning some kind of award. I was out of my comfort zone. What did this teach me?
The best stuff happens outside of your comfort zone.
So, go ahead, try something new. Preferably something scary or that you are unsure of.
While I was in a cooking class in Goa, India I learned to make a few national dishes. I’m not a very good cook, but I try. Food bonds people across cultures. You don’t even need to speak the same language.
I’ve traveled with classmates to China, South America, and Greece. I’ve traveled with girlfriends to Tahiti. I’ve traveled with boyfriends to Ibiza, Paris, St. Tropez and Fiji. I’ve traveled alone. But you know what? You are never really alone. You are always connected to other people, and we are all one. You can meet new people anywhere, anytime; especially if you are open to it.
One of my favorite memories was going to Israel and Jordan. On the way to Petra, I stayed in the most beautiful hotel built into the side of a mountain. It was elegant and chic, but from the outside, you might not even know it was there. Outside, we saw people traveling on foot with camels wearing robes and headscarves. I came to find out they were Bedouins. Bedouins are a nomadic tribe, and they still wander the deserts today. As we drove past, I found myself lost in thought; “Could I live like that? Would life be more enjoyable with fewer things to worry about?”
Travel helps you understand a totally different way of life. It puts you in “someone else’s shoes.“
One summer in Europe, I packed a massive, 70-pound piece of luggage. Dresses, heels, shorts, tons of scarves. I didn’t wear half of my clothes, and hardly any of the shoes that I brought. I remember having to lug the bag upstairs, onto trains and into the bins. I never packed more than a carry-on ever again.
Yogi Bhajan said it best, “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” A capsule wardrobe with basic layering pieces are a lifesaver. I have an overnight bag and makeup bag packed with mini-sized products; always ready to go. The less thought you have to put into your wardrobe and clothing options, the more time you can experience something magical.
I was on a reality show in Costa Rica for 3 months, outside of a small village. I took Spanish for four years in high school with all A’s and B’s and I learned more Spanish in the three months I was there. Being forced to speak Spanish was a great crash-course in learning the language.
What you learn in real life is more helpful sometimes than what you learn in a classroom.
From the red prawns on Vatulele Island in Fiji, to kayaking a bio-luminescent bay in Puerto Rico, great beauty can be found in small things. And not just the literal small things. A good book. The view from the beach. An amazing painting that captures your soul at the museum. I appreciate the small moments.
When my (now), husband worked in Amsterdam, I had the days to myself and wandered the streets aimlessly. I ducked into little shops, boutiques, and restaurants. I talked with other visitors, as well as, locals. I took a tour to the countryside and saw how Dutch shoes were made while passing windmill after windmill.
When I wanted to learn more about Buddhism, I went to China and found a guide to take me to the most historic sites and temples. When I started my meditation journey, I learned in India.
Stay curious. Be open to learning new things.
I’ve climbed down an active volcano in Guatemala for my birthday, been on a tour of the Rainforest in Belize with a monkey-howling tour guide and Shaman, seen the Northern Lights from the Blue Lagoon in Iceland and got a massage in a lavender field in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The world is your oyster. Don’t wait for “the right time,” or, “the right person.” There’s no time like the present to live your best life.
What’s your favorite lesson mentioned above? What do you plan to embrace in 2020? Please share in the comments section below!