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Thankful for What Travel Has Given Me

Here in America, it’s Thanksgiving week! I’m so very thankful for the same things many others are thankful for like my husband, my family, my friends, and the many other blessings I’ve received in my life. Today, however, I want to share something else I’m thankful for – travel and the many gifts it has given me.

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Left: exploring the Ozarks // Right: turning 25 in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Thanks for Giving Me Confidence In Myself

When I first started traveling, I wasn’t a shy, timid girl but I was nervous about a lot of the decisions I made traveling. I would think, Am I doing this right? Am I capable of doing this? What if something happens to me? What if this person I’m meeting up with or couch surfing with doesn’t like me? It didn’t happen overnight or anything, but over the last few years travel has made me a more confident person. I now no longer care if everyone likes me, I would love it if they would, but that’s just not how the world works. I also rarely look at something someone has done and tell myself that I could never do that – with the exception of scuba diving haha! I have felt myself overcome fears, uncomfortable situations and my self-doubts while on the road.

Thanks for Strengthening My Relationships

People often say that the best test for a relationship is to travel with someone. I’ve been so very lucky to have some of the best people in the world in my life. I have a handful of repeat travel partners, that I wouldn’t have the relationship I have with them if it weren’t for travel. The four that come to mind are my parents, Stacey and Matt.

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Left: my dad + me swimming below Havasu Falls // Right: my mom + me in front of the Lion of Lucerne

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to travel with both of my parents together and separately. My dad and I love to take epic hiking trips where we drive ridiculous distances to see some of the most beautiful spots in the U.S. and Canada. I love little moments like singing Billy Joel + Blondie in the car at the top of our lungs and having awesome conversations on hikes while being inspired by nature. My mom and I have had the pleasure of not only taking family road trips together, but we’ve also traveled in nine countries together. I have watched her grow in confidence as well and getting to experience other cultures + gorgeous European sites with her has been such an amazing gift. We always come home with silly stories and tons of photos to share.

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Left: Pisaq Archaeological Site, Peru // Right: On top of Mount Phou Si, Laso

Stacey and I have traveled together in multiple states, ten countries and four continents. We spent 101 days straight together in SE Asia last year and it went amazingly smoothly. Of course, we got on each other’s nerves and there’s the infamous story of my hanger in Kuala Lumpur, but the tiny moments of annoyance were nothing compared to the thousands of laughs, great conversations and unbelievable moments on the road.

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Left: Triple Falls, North Carolina // Center: Savannah, Georgia // Right: Triple Falls, Arkansas

Matt and I never would have met if I hadn’t visited Asheville. I fell in love with the city after visiting several times in a year and decided to move there. If I hadn’t taken a job in AVL, I never would have met him. So thanks, travel, for introducing me to my husband! We have opposite personalities with similar interests + senses of humor. This is great because we balance each other out perfectly! I’m a bit high strung and he is so calm. He keeps me on the right level and reminds me to calm down and be in the moment. I’m a bit more adventurous than he his, but he will be the reason that I live longer. We also have different fears, so we push and encourage each other to work on those. Plus, because we have similar interests and we both have a lot of energy, we cram so much into epic trips! I’m so excited to continue seeing the world with him!

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Left: Phnom Penh Market, Cambodia // Right: Sapa, Vietnam

Thanks for Giving Me A Greater World View

I truly believe that travel has changed my life in this way. I in no way feel that I know everything, but I feel like I have an understanding of situations, people and different religions + cultures that I didn’t have before. Beyond just comprehending different situations and people, I feel like this greater world view has made me a much more empathetic person.

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Inca Trail, Peru

Thanks for Making Me *Less* Materialistic

This has always been a struggle for me. I love clothes. I just can’t help it. It used to be really bad, and even though I still see someone wearing something and think I would love to have it, I have more self-control and less desire to throw all of my money away on clothing. Do I still come home from Target every so often with something new? Yes. Do I still feel the need to buy something new before a trip? Yes. But I’ve made huge strides in this department and I’ve even purged my closet a few times since coming home from my trip to Asia last year. Even though I still struggle with this, I am so thankful that it’s something I’m constantly mindful of, and to be honest, I’m proud of how far I’ve come.

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Tirta Empul, Bali

Thanks for Making Me Focus On Myself

I don’t mean this in the ‘everything is all about me’ sort of way. I mean that travel has exposed my biggest weaknesses in the worst ways. Nothing can rip you down as much as a horrible day away from home can. I have realized, though, that I’m tough as hell and I’m really proud of it. I may have my own mini-meltdowns and some days I just totally fail at something, but I have survived + recovered from all of these experiences, and feel I walk away from each one of them a stronger, more competent person.

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Left: Coffee Plantation, Bali // Right: Skeppsgården, Sweden

Thanks for Teaching Me to Slow Down + Relax

I’m so guilty of packing in so much stuff that I go, go, go until I mentally and physically crash from doing too much, and then I’m frustrated at myself for being ‘weak’ or missing out on an opportunity or missing something. However, once I started long-term traveling, I realized that that’s normal. It’s 100% okay to take breaks, to plan nothing. In fact, it’s healthy! Once I learned this, I actually enjoyed my travels more.

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Left: My family at my wedding // Right: Blue Ridge Mountains, NC

Thanks for Teaching Me the Value of Home

I have this thing, it’s called wanderlust – I can’t control it. I love being in new places as often as possible, but I also have really come to appreciate this idea of home. Because I’ve always wanted to get away I think I haven’t treasured and cherished my time at home like I should have, but travel has taught me the amazingness that is being at home. I also realized that home doesn’t have to be the place you were born. For me, home is two places: 1 – where my family is, 2 – where I feel at home, which is Asheville. I’ve been much more proactive about enjoying my time in these places instead of spending all my time dreaming of far-off lands.

I have said before that travel is the best form of education. Most of the time, I talk about it in terms of learning about culture, the environment, animals, etc. But it has also taught me some beautiful life lessons and more about myself than I would have ever imagined. So, this week when I’m counting my blessings and the things I’m thankful for, travel is one of the things I’m most thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving, Wanderers!

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41 Comments

  • Reply
    Melanie and Todd
    November 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    This is such a good list and I agree with so much of this!! Confidence is a big one! Great, beautiful photos too!! 👍

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 22, 2016 at 1:02 am

      Thank you so much! You’re right confidence is a big one, and I think it’s easiest to find on the road – especially in solo travel because you have to depend on yourself so much. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • Reply
    Len Kagami
    November 21, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Wonderful! I think I should be thankful to travel as well because it has changed me in a positive way 🙂 I have learned to live slowly, to be more humble and more open-minded.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 22, 2016 at 1:01 am

      Those are three really great lessons to learn. Travel is just such a life-changer on so many levels, isn’t it? Thanks for reading and commenting! Xx

  • Reply
    Swatiness
    November 21, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    This is so lovely!!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 21, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      Thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to read + comment! Cheers! Xx

  • Reply
    Anne @TravelTheGlobe (@TTGLOBE4L)
    November 22, 2016 at 2:38 am

    What a great post. I love the idea of thanksgiving even though we don’t celebrate it in the Uk. Travel broadens the horizons and teaches us new skills. I sometimes marvel at how I travelled as a teen with no internet, mobile phone or money!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 7:37 am

      It’s a really fun holiday – and the food is amazing! I say celebrate it anyway! 😉
      It definitely does all of those things! I envy the ability to have done it with no internet or mobile phone – I’m with you on the no money part 😉 I am grateful for having so many tools and resources with the internet (along with the work that helps out with the money) but it’s also a great distraction. Thanks for commenting! Xx

  • Reply
    Susanna Kelly
    November 22, 2016 at 3:42 am

    Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and travel encompasses almost everything to be grateful for. Love this heart felt post. I hope you and yours have a happy thanksgiving!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 7:38 am

      You’re absolutely right! Thank you so very much and Happy Thanksgiving to you + your family! Xx

  • Reply
    Debbie de Juan nee Keating
    November 22, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Inspirational. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 7:39 am

      Thank you so much! Happy Thanksgiving to you too! Xx

  • Reply
    shobha42016
    November 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    What a beautiful post! I love the sentiment that you share this passion for travel with all the people in your life. I definitely don’t share it with my parents (they are complete homebodies) so you are indeed blessed that you have people who ‘get’ you. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 7:47 am

      Thank you so much. You’re absolutely I am very blessed. It’s something that not many people get, and I think it took some getting used to from my parents when I started going away for longer periods of time, but they totally understand seeing adventures. Maybe you could get your parents to start small with a day trip; who knows they may totally fall in love with it! Happy Thanksgiving! Xx

  • Reply
    Christina
    November 22, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    What a great attitude you have Paige. The world would be a better place if only more people would stop and give thanks for all the good things in their life. You’ve hit the nail on the head here. Travel is a gift.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 7:49 am

      Thank you so much for such a sweet comment, Christina! Xx

      • Reply
        Christina
        November 24, 2016 at 7:32 am

        My pleasure and it’s also great that you have such close travelling companions, including your Mum. Keep on travelling…..

        • Reply
          Paige Wunder
          November 25, 2016 at 9:45 pm

          Thank you so much! I feel very blessed! Xx

  • Reply
    Thuymi @ AdventureFaktory.com
    November 22, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    It was great to read through this as I could’ve related to many points. Travelling has indeed made my confidence so stronger and made me build on my relationships better

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Thank you so much, Thuymi for your comment and sharing part of what you’re grateful to travel for! Xx

  • Reply
    Sarah Kim
    November 23, 2016 at 5:57 am

    Aw what a sweet post. The part about focusing on yourself and teaching you the value of home really rings true for me too. Thank you for showing your gratitude.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you for your sweet comment and for also sharing what travel has made you grateful for. I just will never be able to share all the amazing moments and gifts travel has given me. Xx

  • Reply
    An Outcast Wayfarer
    November 23, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Lovely blog, especially the confidence part and the meeting others part. I think that we all need to be thankful for travel, for all the wisdom, peace and love it bestowed on us!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 25, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      Thank you! I have learned more from travel than anything else I’ve ever done. I appreciate you commenting! Xx

  • Reply
    Svet Dimitrov
    November 23, 2016 at 7:15 am

    What a gorgeous ballad of gratitude, Paige! I am thankful for having had the chance to read it. We are all less materialistic being globetrotters.

    If I must thank something – I would thank the “Holy Power” that created this world to be so diverse and stupefyingly beautiful! I will make sure to drink more of its delicious springs!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 25, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      I always appreciate your cineast so very much! I think you’re right that anyone who travels becomes so much less materialistic!
      I completely agree with you! I’m so appreciative to whomever made this gorgeous earth that we get to explore! Xx

      • Reply
        Svet Dimitrov
        November 26, 2016 at 4:03 am

        Hehe, glad we are on the same beautiful page! What exactly do you mean by cineast? :)) Not sure I got that.

        • Reply
          Paige Wunder
          November 26, 2016 at 8:56 am

          Oh, Svet – that word was supposed to be comments! Haha! 🙂 I had family over as a post-Thanksgiving celebration and I guess I was too distracted to write normal comments! 😉 Sorry about that! Xx

          • Svet Dimitrov
            November 26, 2016 at 9:12 am

            Hahaha, okay :)) No worries. Be happy and blesed with health!

  • Reply
    carmyy
    November 23, 2016 at 11:49 am

    I’m thankful for travel as it has humbled me and taught me many life lessons. It has taught me to be brave, happy, and keep the continual sense of curiosity going! I absolutely love your post. Will be sharing!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Thank you so much, Carmy! I really appreciate you sharing what you’re thankful for from travel and for sharing my post. I hope you continue to have fabulous adventures throughout the year! Xx

  • Reply
    Jen Morrow
    November 23, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    So many things to be thankful for, including a husband that you can travel with! Travel is a great teacher and life coach.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 23, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      Absolutely! He’s the number one thing I’m grateful for! He’s pretty amazing! Thanks for commenting! Xx

  • Reply
    Sally E
    November 23, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    I absolutely LOVE this post! Especially since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, the timing couldnt have been better. I agree with you on all of these, but confidence is a huge one! It’s brought me more confidence than I could have ever expected. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 25, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m so happy to hear that travel has brought you so much confidence! Keep exploring! Xx

  • Reply
    Kerri
    November 24, 2016 at 2:45 am

    So much here that is of value. Perhaps the one that really resonated with me the most was the point around home. I’m not one of these people who can live abroad for long periods of time. I love my home and being around my family. I lived overseas many years ago but really hated it……home is my base and as long as I know I have that I can go anywhere, anytime.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 25, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      I think my husband would completely agree with you. I definitely miss my family when I’m away, but our home-base is 12 hours away from my family already, so it feels about the same as living abroad. Thanks for sharing how travel made you value home as well! Xx

  • Reply
    Sally Cochrane
    November 24, 2016 at 5:57 am

    What a great thanksgiving post! I am so grateful for all of these lessons that travel has brought and continues to bring me. It really allows you to appreciate home and your friends and family more too, I totally agree.

  • Reply
    Chantell
    November 24, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Aw reading this post came at just the right time for me. I have to say that I completely agree with all of these. Most importantly for me was developing self confidence, becoming less materialistic and having a great world view. Sharing on my facebook page!

  • Reply
    Samantha Elisabeth
    November 24, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    This is so lovely! Happy Thanksgiving! I’m always grateful to travel for opening the world to me and finally giving me a sense of purpose.

    And I so feel you on being less materialistic! I used to want to save up for a Prada bag, and now I’m like pfff that’s a whole European adventure right there!

  • Reply
    Wandering JM
    November 25, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Definitely agree with all of those and now i can really feel how travel transform people positively. And we should spread those words to thise reluctant in traveling.

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