It takes a long time to become young.Pablo Picasso
I just turned 30. My 20’s have officially ended and I’m not too happy about it but I am making the most of feeling old. My 20’s were an insane roller coaster ride, especially when it comes to travel. I learned a ton, went to incredible places, and overcame a lot of obstacles I wasn’t prepared to face, but did. Keep reading to discover just what I learned. Hopefully it will inspire you and help you on your travels even if you aren’t in your 20’s.
Being Different Is A Good Thing
For a while, I used to be very shy and cared about what people thought of every little thing I did. Traveling took me out of that bubble and showed me that no one genuinely cares that you’re different and if they do they aren’t the type of person who is comfortable with themselves or someone you want to be associated with.
There’s an Entire World Out There
I feel like when you’re in your teens you think you’re the center of the universe. When you get into your 20’s your universe expands a little bit. I was lucky enough to have traveled from a young age and saw different ways of doing things. Some people in my family have never left the state they were born in and this blows my mind. I’ll never understand (but I do respect their choices) why people don’t want to see the world and learn about cultures and experience life in a way that is different from their own but at the same time is just as valid.
I mean this in a few different ways. Never be ashamed of where you come from. I, personally, strongly oppose President Trump and am often asked when I travel if everyone in the United States loves him and emulates his beliefs. A country is made up of more than one person even if they are the only one people have heard of. I love my country, but I am always trying to leave it to experience adventure and cultures different from my own. I want to learn. I want to expand my universe to more than people who think like me. To me, that’s truly living.
Another phrase I’ve consistently heard foreigners say in every country I’ve traveled to is “this is so weird”. No. It’s different and there’s a difference. It might be foreign to you but it’s just something you haven’t seen or done yet. Other cultures, no matter how similar or different they might be from your own are human. In that, we shouldn’t go around loudly stating their way of life is “weird”.
Respect Is Earned
There are little things I try to do every place I go regardless of the country or my mood. I always thank people, especially those who rarely get thanked like bus drivers, hotel staff, and janitors. Secondly, I always, always, always learn basic phrases in the native language of wherever I’m going and use the language to the best of my ability. I don’t expect people from foreign countries to speak perfect english when they visit my country, but I do appreciate the effort. My last trip to Peru motivated me to learn Spanish and I loved it so much that I am now on level three and can have conversations.
Long story short, people love it when you make an effort. Show others your humanity. Show them you are willing to try and respect them. Little things like courtesy and respect go a long way to being welcomed in a country or being treated with the same respect you show them.
Never Let Fear Prevent You From Traveling
I’ve missed out on a few incredible trips because people convinced me I shouldn’t have visited because a place was bombed a decade before. The country in question was perfectly safe and remains so today and is still on my list. In today’s world where terrorism is a threat it is easy to say no I don’t need to travel.
The truth is, terrorism could happen anywhere and that’s why so many people are afraid. While I always make sure I am traveling somewhere where I will be safe and won’t fear for my life, I also refuse to stop traveling because of the possibility of something bad happening. Life is too short to live in fear of something whether it’s taking the first trip out of your hometown or going somewhere that is so different you don’t even know how to fit in. Take the leap. Be safe, but never limit yourself.
Assholes Are Everywhere
You can’t get away from them no matter where you go. I’ve slapped people in Italy for grabbing my butt; I’ve reported men to the police for being disgusting excuses of human beings; I’ve told people off in 3 different languages for being rude. I’ve never let this stop me from enjoying my time somewhere that I wanted to be. You shouldn’t either.
Stereotypes are Overrated
People told me before I went to France that everyone was rude. I went anyway and it continues to be one of my favorite places on earth because of the warm welcome and sense of community I feel there. No one has ever been openly rude to me.
People told me that Peru wasn’t worth going to because it is a developing country. I went anyway. It is hands down the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The people there have such a rich history and culture and are so enthusiastic to share it with you that you can’t help but fall in love with the country.
People think my country is a bunch of southern hicks who are dumb as rocks. I’m a southern woman with a 2 Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s degree. Yes, there are plenty of idiots here, but they aren’t everyone.
No country is only its stereotype. Is there at least one person in each country who defines that stereotype? Of course there is, but you find them everywhere you go. Rise above. Be better than the stereotype.
I might make this into another follow up post, but I would love to hear more about what traveling taught you regardless of your age. I don’t know where I would be in my life if it wasn’t for travel and everything it has taught me. I hope this has helped even one person in any way. Can’t wait to write whatever the next blog post will be for you guys!