Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Three Lessons I Learned From Traveling

It’s been about a month since I arrived here in Florence, and after finally enjoying a full day of sun, walking along the Arno River yesterday, I had some time to reflect on my travels. 

The Arno River
The morning after my last final in December I packed up my one US carry-on size bag, a smaller shoulder bag, and a backpack (the goal was to take as little as possible since I knew it’d be awhile until I could unpack). My first two destinations were New York City and Philadelphia where I got to see my brother and sister. 

On the way over to NYC my carry-on bag (which I had just bought) was already showing signs of weakness, with over a month of traveling ahead of me there was no other choice but to buy a new bag. This brings me to the First Lesson I Learned while Traveling: 

Navigating NYC Metro
Don’t get attached to things. Traveling (and life for that matter) will be ten times more enjoyable if you accept the fact that anything you bring may get lost, stolen, or broken… Try to take the bare minimum of what you need and always go for quality over quantity. This is extremely helpful when you have to drag your stuff up three or more flights of stairs (A LOT of places don’t have elevators, a lesson quickly learned in Europe). 


“Take half as much clothes and twice as much money.” 
 (An old travel axiom that my dad likes to quote) 


While the first lesson came to me pretty quickly the Second Lesson I Learned while Traveling took a little more time and realization:  


Traveling isn’t about the places you go

…or the things you collect

Traveling is about the People you Meet 


Being that I hadn’t really been outside of the country before (except to Canada…) I was extremely excited to check some countries off my list (you should never degrade traveling down to only a list, but I’ll get back to that later). I was going to visit Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Italy at the minimum.

Little did I know it didn’t matter that Sweden was wet and dark (Sweden is absolutely gorgeous, but it was winter), or Norway was very cold (again winter), or that my stomach didn’t agree so much with German food (that one’s just on my stomach) because I was reunited with some of my best friends (some I hadn’t seen for three years!) and met many more amazing people along the way. 
Kristiansand Zoo, Norway

I listened to the stories of the people in the airport, on the train, and everywhere in-between (I met a girl who was in the US for the first time in two years after starting up an ice cream business in Tonga and I bonded with many random people over the sole fact that we could speak English, but not Swedish, Norwegian, German, etc..) I realized very quickly that it didn’t matter where my destination was because so many amazing stories were found within the people all around me regardless of where I was at. This brings me to the Third lesson I learned while traveling: 

Enjoy the place you are in while you are there. This lesson sounds a little obvious, but it is so easy while traveling to get caught up on planning everything for where you’re going to go next that you forget to be where you are. Take it all in nice and slow. What does the air feel like? How do the sounds and smells mix together? Live in the moment.

Enjoying the not so convertible weather in Germany
Possibly worse than this is a little thing called social media (yeah, yeah, I know we’ve all been warned of the evil dangers of social media, but for real just put the phone down). I’ve seen so many people look at a famous monument, sculpture, building, etc. for only a second, take a picture, and then just stare at their phone for the rest of the time. It’s good that the world now knows where you are, but do you?

And again, never reduce your trip down to a list of things to do. Plans change, discoveries are made, and life happens. If you get enchanted by the idea of a place you never heard of before… then go. If you meet someone who gives you goosebumps (or chicken skin for my Hawaii peeps) by just listening to them… then stay longer. You will come to find that all those places you thought you had to go are no where near as important as the places and people you just happened to fall in love with. 

Stay tuned for future posts about Florence and a video (hopefully in the near future) of my month and a half of living out of a bag, traveling Europe, and seeing old friends. 

4 comments:

  1. Loved reading, Jessi. Love you and miss you.

    ReplyDelete
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