Travel made me better at…

Brooke Saward 2
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Cesky Krumlov

Questioning the Status Quo

I really needn’t describe the definition of ‘First World Problems’…  but incase you’ve been living under a rock, it’s the unfavourable term for your problems that aren’t problems. But you could be forgiven for only knowing what you know, because how else are you to know any better? Travelling the world will open your eyes to many different standards of living around the globe and help you to understand/appreciate first hand how the rest of the world lives. Watching through a television screen or reading about it in the newspaper just doesn’t do it justice. Just Go…. and then you’ll see why.

Asking for Help

Prior to travelling the world solo and being forced to rely on no other person but myself, I was pretty stubborn. I liked to do things my own way and even if that meant walking 10 kilometres instead of finding out how to catch the subway, I was determined to do things ‘my way’. Over time I realised this is neither a good move tactically, nor is it a wise move for broadening my scope and understanding of living like locals. Over time, travel made me better at asking for help.

Being comfortable with any situation

Comfortably eating a meal whilst a stray dog sits at my feet with hopeful eyes? Sure. Lady boys of Thailand overtly placing their body parts in my face to catch my attention? Why not. Travel has a way of bringing you outside of your comfort zone and finding regularity in irregularity. What would seem absurd at home somehow feels completely normal abroad… because why question it? It’s not wrong, it’s just different.

Sharing food

If there’s one thing I think most of us can agree on, it’s the importance of food. Sure, we need it to live… but it also just tastes so damn good that it is sometimes hard to share without thinking to yourself “they better not take more than 49%”. However when you travel, it’s a different story. Sharing food becomes a tradition – a necessity even, to ensure you try more foods and discover what you do/don’t like. Before you know it you’re sharing food with a stranger or someone you just met 5 minutes ago… and it feels just fine.

How to sleep anywhere

More times than I would care to count I have lasted 40+ hours with no sleep whilst on the road. However before travel, I would struggle to function off a measly 4 hours after a Saturday night on the town. Travel pushes your boundaries in so many ways… and forces you to make do. Besides, it’s nothing a 10 hour bus journey can’t fix… right!? 

Letting go of tangible things

Before travel I was fairly convinced (like most of us) that my ‘things’ were valuable. To me, they held value. I wouldn’t dare throw them away – because I had worked hard to earn them, so wouldn’t that be a waste? Somehow, somewhere along the way, I have learned to let go of tangible things. Because they’re just that – things. They don’t hold true value, experiences do.

Appreciating what I have

Because we’re opening up ourselves and our minds to other ways of life, we suddenly begin to realise just how good we have it back at home. Remember that time you complained about the weather? Remember when you once complained when your sibling turned on the taps resulting in a cold couple of seconds in the shower? All these truly ridiculous ‘problems’ soon become so trivial that you feel guilty just thinking of yourself in this light. You learn to appreciate what you have and take nothing for granted. Moreover, you begin thinking of ways you can help others by learning to give… not just your money, but your time, too.

How to talk to strangers

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve find myself talking to strangers – often in broken English or hand gestures. Waiting for a bus, train, plane or simply standing in line at the grocery store. I’ve met some of the most interesting people this way… and their stories stay with me everywhere I go.

How to spin a bad scenario into a good one

Of course nothing ever goes to plan when you’re on the road. Circumstances are beyond your control, trains are delayed, flights are cancelled… and so on and so forth. But what can you do? Being negative won’t result in a positive conclusion… so you learn to spin the bad into good. Besides, it could always be worse!

How to just be myself

Maybe its a byproduct of my youth or maybe its a personal struggle I dealt with in my turbulent teens… But whatever it was, it took me a long time to just be comfortable in my own skin. For years I thought that I was happy with myself… but I was still plastering on a face of make up or on an impossible quest to turn my body into something it wasn’t designed to be. Then I travelled by myself for a year. I quit the face full of makeup and quit caring about what was being written in the magazines (I could barely find any in English anyway), and soon realised the happiest version of myself was just to be myself. Oh the time and worries I would have saved figuring this out sooner!

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  • Links I like #4 | One Old Gypsy
    March 3, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    […] We all know that travelling broadens our mind in so many ways. World of Wanderlust shares her experiences on this in her article “TRAVEL MADE ME BETTER AT…” […]

    Maria Timonina
    November 13, 2014 at 3:38 am

    I completely agree with all of the above. I would also add that it gives me a much greater sense in bravery in the non-travel portions of my life. After backpacking alone through New Zealand I realized that going on a first date or even putting my writing and acting work out there for other people to see doesn’t have to be so scary.

    Also, as a travel blogger myself I of course LOVE talking about what makes travel so great (I’m American and my people don’t get out much) but I was wondering if you think that travel in any way has created a challenge in your life? I’m just curious what your experience is since you’ve made an entire career out of it. I know for myself that my acting career is also really important to me and in order to pursue those goals to the fullest, I will have to sacrifice a lot of my travel time.

    Olga L.
    November 7, 2014 at 3:34 am

    In other words traveling just changes you entirely! And in the best way of course! There is nothing better then traveling for discovering who you actualy are!
    Great post – i wish i learn all the stuff one day as well!!!

    Luc @ The Wanderlust Scout
    November 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    hahaha sharing food – i am shit at that (mostly cause I am possessive). I love these. Travel made me realise the world is bigger than my northern beaches bubble, i have a capacity for so much more than i realise and that I am allowed to wander

    Lucy x ||

    November 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    So true! Before I started travelling alone, I was such a scaredy cat. Now, I think I can do anything and everything the world throws at me and take it on with gusto. The best decision I’ve ever made in life is to leave home and travel solo.

    November 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    So true! Before I started travelling alone, I was such a scaredy cat. Now, I think I can anything and everything the world is throwing at me and take it on with gusto. The best decision I’ve ever made in life is to leave home and travel solo.

    November 5, 2014 at 2:38 am

    Love this post, it’s so relatable

    November 4, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Travel is the best thing in the world, how it changes you for the better.
    Great post!

    Leonie Parker
    November 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Great post!! x

    Leonie ♥ IkonikBeauty

    November 4, 2014 at 10:39 am

    As an educator, I really believe that travel is education in its purest form. Counting down the days until my backpacking adventure

    Ellie Quinn
    November 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Really great post! I totally agree with the magazine thing too. I haven’t read a fashion magazine in ages and yesterday I had a flick through one and it’s just full of people telling you what you should wear, how you should look and after travelling the world and seeing different places you realise that it doesn’t matter, there are more important things!

    November 4, 2014 at 5:59 am

    I love this post Brooke, travelling is the best form of personal growth and personally my favourite way! I have learnt how to value time, balance a budget, let go of plans and so much more.

    Alejandra Mera
    November 4, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Great article! On the road you really are out of the comfort zone and that is when you learn so many new things about life. When I moved to Norway I always had to ask people for help so I could find my way during the first week, and it was difficult to take the initiative, but people are always so kind in general. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part people are so willing to help!

    November 4, 2014 at 5:04 am

    They are all so true! I especially love the last one – I was never more myself than during my semester abroad. And it felt awesome 🙂

    November 4, 2014 at 5:03 am

    I love this post! It makes me realise just how much I still have to learn on my journeys. Asking for help is always so hard for me and I tend to end up in awkward situations just because I’ve been to stubborn to ask for directions, a discount or anything else. I’m glad that this seems normal and that it doesn’t have to stay that way.
    Thanks for that!


    Estherina's World
    November 4, 2014 at 4:00 am

    All of these lessons sound very familiar but none more so than your second last one. I’m totally with you. I’m a planner by nature, but traveling taught me to appreciate the unplanned moments. To appreciate the journey, no matter how big a departure it might be from the intended plan. Looking forward to your next post!

    Step into Estherina’s World

    November 4, 2014 at 3:42 am

    I agree with all of these and have had the same things happen to me since travelling. The most important one is probably talking to strangers, which is something I struggled with before!

    Marie @ Marie Away
    November 4, 2014 at 2:36 am

    One of the most important things I’ve learned from travel really goes along with being grateful for what I have, as you said above. Seeing the level of poverty that exists in the world, harsh reality and sad truths, really makes you understand the importance of being a humanitarian. It teaches you to care more deeply for others and their circumstances, and to want to help.

    I love reading posts like this, they really make me reflect on the lessons I’ve learned myself. Thank you!

    Andrea @ GreenAndTurquoise
    November 4, 2014 at 1:58 am

    I agree with everything you’ve written!
    I also find that people who travel are usually really fascinating and charming, I don’t know why! Probably because the more you do, the more stories you have to share, and the best way to accumulate interesting stories is by travelling, constantly meeting new people, and putting yourself in new and interesting situations. I bet you’re like that, too!

    Happy travels Brooke!

    Ragan Wesson
    November 4, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I would have to completely agree with all of these points, especially the point about traveling making you appreciate what you have. I always come back from trips feeling refreshed and thankful to be an American! I love following your blog and your instagram.

    Grace @ Green Global Travel
    November 4, 2014 at 12:12 am

    There is so much to learn from travel, it really makes you push yourself and think in broader terms. Great post!

    Christie of The Butterfly Editions
    November 3, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    This is all so true, a wonderful post! We can learn so much from travel, about ourselves and about others’ ways of life. The more I travel the more I realise I have grown as a person and also my values become clearer and more apparent to me – e.g. valuing experiences over material things!

    November 3, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Love your writing Brooke! It is relatable on just so many levels. Travel really does change you. I’m from India but I studied and lived in San Francisco for over a year and it changed my outlook and approach to life in just so many ways, but most of all it helped me discover who I truly am!

    November 3, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    This was such a wonderful post to read and I am really happy that travel has allowed you grow into such a lovely and open person. I live abroad and I think that doing so also helps with a few of these steps. I think though, that travel is really one of the rare ways to really see things placed into perspective in terms of our own participation in consumerism and what we feel living standards should be and allow us to question the status-quo.

    rae of love from berlin

    November 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Love this post. I truly agree with you. I have opinion that experience of visiting another city, country, meeting new culture, is something that nobody can take away from you. Truly changes you as a person  Mel

    Clementine Buttercup
    November 3, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Travel has taught me how little I need in life. Possessions that seem so important to me back home have no meaning when you’re away. However, it’s also taught me that I have my best night’s sleep in my own bed!

    Is It French?
    November 3, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    If nothing else, this makes you realise how much faster you grow up and develop your personality while traveling. Some people older than you won’t reach some of these realisations in years. Not sure even I will. This just gives me one more reason to travel more and make it work. I’ve been constantly repeating to myself lately one of your famous sayings: “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

    November 3, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    I love reading how travels changed your life and all the adventures. But it also always makes me sad.
    When I was younger I thought a life on the road would be perfect, I have lived and worked in different countries (though within Europe only) and I have backpacked and explored. But I have also discovered that I do not have the health for these things.
    You often say how anything is possible if you set your mind to it – and I agree with the financial aspect – but I could not put my body through it.
    But I still have not given up on adventures, they just have to come with a hotel room and one destination only per trip. This cost more, and I am sad.
    But I broke my health (long story, isn’t it always) backpacking, and I know that cheap travel will probably never be on the menu again.

    Rachel @ Vagabondbaker
    November 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    This is such a great post, I entirely agree with everything you’ve written!
    I especially appreciate how travel has made me comfortable in the ‘abnormal’, yes, it’s simply just different! Before travel, anything out of my comfort zone would have freaked me out: a cockroach on my toothbrush? Before: *freak out*, Now: oh god, that is truly disgusting, but hey, I can get a new toothbrush!

    November 3, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Great article!

    November 3, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    lovely article!

    for me travelling has really made me appreciate what I have…

    NZ Muse
    November 3, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    How to go with the flow and deal with ambiguity and confusion, definitely. Still terrified of talking to strangers though!

    November 3, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    I love this post! And am on completely the same wavelength, travel completely changes your outlook on life, the way you behave, how you process situations, and how you treat strangers. It teaches you so much about life while actually, properly living it!

    21 year old travel blogger

    November 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    It’s amazing how traveling can open your eyes to so much. This are all great qualities you’ve learned. One thing I’ve personally learned is to be more tolerant and open minded towards others.

    xx Cheyenne