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5 Things I Learned from Traveling

Some say traveling is the most intense form of learning and it's true (and by some I mean Kevin Kelly who literally said just that). There is something exhilarating and beautiful about fighting that natural instinct of staying inside our comfort zones and stepping out into a place where we are entirely vulnerable.

There are so many quotes to add on here, some of my favorites: "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."- St. Augustine, "There are no foreign lands, it is the traveler only who is foreign." -Robert Louis Stevenson.

Of course, I did not only learn 5 things while I partially backpacked the west side of Europe but these are the most generalized and inspiring lessons I can share. Still, it matters little what I say because you really have to get out there and see these things for yourself, like I say in the first lesson:

1. You won't know anything about the world unless you go and see it for yourself. 

I went abroad for the first time at the age of twenty. That gave me a solid few years before I'd ever left the country to hear hundreds of incredible opinions about the people of other countries. We've all heard the stereotypes: "The french are cold and mean", "The english are arrogant and unwelcoming". Interestingly enough, when I got to London, the only mean people were the customs agents but I presume they are relatively the same everywhere you go. As soon as we stepped out of the airport, everyone was pretty nice, enthusiastic and welcoming.

2. "Travel isn't always pretty" 

In one of my endless scrolls through Pinterest the other day, I came across this Anthony Bourdain quote: "Travel isn't always pretty. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind." As I read it, I thought to myself, nothing could be more true. Last year, one of the days my cousin and I spent in Paris, we were running at night to catch the metro. There, in the underground tunnels of the train sat an entire family of Syrian refugees. We were scared. Over here, in the comfort of our homes, we are not used to seeing that type of image but what we were looking at was reality in its purest form. It broke our hearts. It sent us back to our hostel with an uneasy feeling. These things we read about from a small glowing screen in our hands, so far away from our reality, they are the realities of others.

3. Travel is rejuvenating. 

As we delve further and further from home, we allow our hearts and minds to enter a state of wonderment that is like that of a child in a new world. We are aware of everything, as everything is new to us. I recommend watching "The Thousand Year Journey: From Oregon to Patagonia" by Jedidiah Jenkings. Its a four minute video about the incredible journey of a man leaving everything behind and setting off to explore the world. Whenever I need some inspiration, I always turn to this video. Not all of us can decide to leave everything behind and take our bike from Oregon down to Patagonia but its important to realize the lesson behind all of this: "The routine is the enemy of time, it makes it fly by."

4. It's all about finding yourself...

"Travel far enough, you meet yourself." -David Mitchell. Or rather to find the you you've been all along (words of wisdom from another Pinterest board)  Out there in the world, there is really only one thing we are looking for and that is for the very essence of who we are. In the scattered, hurting and beautiful pieces of the world, that is where our souls lay, and we must wander out in search of them.

5. The Key is in Slowing Down. 

While in each of the destinations I travelled to last summer, my cousin and I always made time to pause. In the face of the Eiffel Tower, or Big Ben, we would sit and stare for a good fifteen minutes. The views we had the privilege of looking at deserved more than a mere glance and selfie, rather they were an opportunity to meditate. Travel teaches us to slow down so we can actually truly see the world around us.

And to conclude, if there is something I love as much as quotes is Ted talks and here is a great one for travel inspiration called Travel More & Buy Less about how you should invest more in experiences and less in stuff. Think about it, the memories will last you a life time.

Follow my travel diaries: 4 Countries, 7 Cities, 21 Days

With love always,

Laiana Isabel

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