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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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