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I do a lot of traveling, both for work and for pleasure, and in my travels, I've realized over the years that the world has a unique way of teaching us, feeding us lessons with each new place we see. Over my years of traveling, I've been taught lesson after lesson with each new place I experience, but perhaps some of the most important lessons are those that you realize over time, after you've had months or years to relive a trip in your mind and really realize what you might have taken away from it. So today, these are some of the best lessons I've learned from my travels over the years and ones that I try to hold with me for each new trip on the horizon!
When you travel, you give up control. You give up control of the weather, of airplanes being on time, of hotels being what you thought they would be. Traveling can be brutal sometimes and it's those times that you really do need to be prepared for anything, even if that means you're not prepared at all for what comes and you just have to take it in stride. Often times, you're left sleeping on airport floors or rerouting a trip that didn't go according to plan, but in those times, you learn very well how to prepare yourself in the future and using that as a lesson in itself.
So many times while traveling, many people are trying to cram so many things into a specific place, trying to hit every museum, every new restaurant, every activity. It can be so draining to travel that way and you don't really even get to enjoy the place. For me, I travel the way I live, if I want to go into a museum, I'll go. But if I don't, I don't worry about it. For me, wandering through Central Park with my husband or hitting our favorite restaurant (even though there might be 5 million others to try) are more important to me than making sure I see everything.
Sometimes it's the smaller things you see in a place, the way you feel just wandering around that makes more of an imprint on you than being a typical "tourist."
This is an important lesson to learn early on when traveling. I'm the type of traveler that likes a nice hotel, that likes to sleep in, and that likes to have an itinerary for each day of where we're headed. For me, that's what works best. For others though, the complete opposite might be true. Before you travel with other people or even listen to others' travel advice before a trip, realize that not everyone travels the same. What might be important to you, might be worthless to someone else. Figure out what works best for you and don't worry about what other people will think.
So often when traveling, it's the things you see in the most random places that end up being the most memorable. Like when you're lost in Marrakech and wander upon a gorgeous spice market or end up using your French in Paris because you can't find your hotel without it. It's those times when you really embrace the unexpected things that come up along the way that you will remember more than other moments. Embrace what's around you, take it all in.
A really important lesson I've learned over the years, and perhaps one of the most important, is that you aren't going to love every place you see. For me, I don't love Italy and while most people do, I often get strange comments or looks when I say that. But that's just me. I happen to love Paris, but many people do not. Traveling is about finding those places you love and being ok with the ones you don't. But on the same hand, the places you don't end up loving, often they are the ones that follow you and you think about often afterwards. Each place you see and experience will stay with you, whether it ends up that you love it or not.