What Travel has Helped me do

I firmly believe that long-term travel changes people. I know it has changed me and I know it’s made me a better person. The thing about change is that it’s unnatural. Humans in general like a routine and like to be comfortable. Change is uncomfortable and almost always comes with a lot of uncertainty. When I think back on my travels there are a few things I know specifically travel has been able to help me do; things I wouldn’t have been able to push myself to do on my own.

what

Travel has helped me…

Lose myself

When I came back from my first long trip abroad, the adjustment back to “normal life” hit me hard. How I lived my “regular life” in college was not how I lived my life during my travels. So which one did I want? Which one was really me? Which one made me truly happy? Did I want to be a gypsy my whole life? Did I want to have kids and get married? I didn’t know. I was utterly and completely confused and lost. So while travel gave me my greatest high, it also caused me to hit rock bottom.

koh phi phi

on a longtail off the coast of Koh Phi Phi during my first trip abroad

Find myself again

I found that rock bottom was the perfect place to build a foundation for a new life, and that’s exactly what I did. I got my degree, got a job doing something I love, bought a dog, met and got engaged to the love of my life and all of a sudden I had the perfect combination of roots and wings. Which is exactly what I never knew I always wanted. My career in freelance TV and radio work and freelance travel writing gives me the opportunity to travel with and be with my fiancé while he plays professional baseball. Some people say I’m lucky. That’s fine, they can think that, but I’ve worked for what I have. I’ve learned some lessons the hard way, but I’ve always learned. It takes courage to unapologetically be the person you want to be and live the life you want to live. 

travel

enjoying the patio at my hostel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Deal with my Problems

My first trip abroad was sparked by me feeling overwhelmed with some tricky things going on in my life. I thought a long term trip would be fun, but I also knew it would help me put off the things I was avoiding and struggling with the most. And it did help me put things off..for a month. When I got home, the problems I was running from were right there waiting for me. I never again used travel as a crutch to run from things. I bit the bullet and dealt with the problems I had let pile up. From then on I used travel as a way to enrich my life more, not run from it, and I enjoyed my travels more because of it.

singapore

watching the sun go down over the Singapore skyline

Let go 

One of the hardest things I realized during my first long-term trip abroad is that when you’re gone, life at home doesn’t stand still. When you travel long-term you can be so disconnected from your “normal” everyday life that it’s hard to remember your friends, family, and routines are not set on pause waiting for you to come back and press play. In fact, usually things are very different when you get back. Everything from the weather, to the songs on the radio, to new habits my friends formed when I was gone, took me by surprise when I got home. You can spend time trying to make sense of it all, but in reality you need to learn to let it go. Accept the change for what it is and let. it. go.

Laos

getting off the beaten path in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Reach for more

Here’s the truth: the life you dream of, the job you dream of, the significant other you dream of is possible. Everything you dream of is possible. But you have to reach for it, and keep reaching. Traveling the world is attainable. I’m not anymore special than anyone else out there. The second I took my first trip abroad I knew I wanted more. I didn’t just want to go on a once in a life time trip and tell the same stories over and over again. I felt alive and I wanted more, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting more of what makes you happy and sets your soul on fire. In fact, I think there’s something wrong with settling for anything less. There is more out there, and it can be yours, reach for it.

bali

meeting the monkey’s in Bali’s famous Monkey Forest

Be brave

I’ve flown around the world, by myself, to a country where I didn’t speak the language, didn’t have a phone, and didn’t have any clue where I was going. Was I scared shitless at times? Hell yes! Was I lonely at times? Hell yes! But it forced me to be in a situation that no one else could bail me out of. I had to take care of it, I had to figure it out, and I had to rely on myself; and guess what? I did! It’s amazing how strong and capable a person can be when they have no other option. 

backpacking

on Bangkok’s famous Khao San Road

Be vulnerable

Surprisingly, some of the deepest conversations I’ve ever had have been with people I met while traveling. I remember staying at the On On Hotel in Phuket, Thailand. There was a small lobby area where travelers would gather and socialize. One night there was about 12 of us around this table. We were from all around the world, were all different ages, and came from all different walks of life. We stayed out around that lobby table until 4 am drinking a bottle of Whiskey and sharing our life stories with one another. We laughed our butts off, we even cried some, we drank waaay to much whiskey, but damn we were vulnerable. We told each other about our lives back home, about our hopes and dreams, about why we were traveling, about everything. It is amazing how open and honest and raw you will be with someone when you know you will probably never see them again. As long as I live, I will never forget that night and the way it felt to be completely 100% vulnerable; to speak about the deepest parts of my life without fear of how I would be perceived.

Ankgor Wat

Visiting the ancient temples of Ankgor in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Meet people from all over the world

I have met people from every continent on the planet. I’ve met 20-somethings on gap years. I’ve meet 30-somethings taking sabbaticals from their jobs. I’ve met trust fund babies who are blowing all their parents money. I’ve met people searching for jobs, happiness, love, freedom, everything. I’ve heard their stories, I’ve connected with them, and I’ve stayed in touch with a lot of them.

thailand

Some of the girls I met that awesome night at the On On.

Open my mind

It amazing how much you can learn about other people and their culture when you open your mind and block out your preconceived notions. During my first trip to Thailand, we rented a long-tail from a local Thai man who took us around the Phi Phi Islands for the day. We pulled up close to an island with a beautiful beach, but the area we were getting out around had small little rocks all along the bottom of the ocean floor. I kept tripping over the rocks as I was moving from the boat to the shore. The Thai man helped me up, chuckled at me and said “I don’t know why you Americans are always in such a hurry. No one in a hurry here!”

He was right, the culture in Asia is so much slower than what we’re used to here in America. No one wears watches, and you’d be hard pressed to find a clock in a hostel or hotel. No one is in a hurry. In their culture and according to their way of living, life is best enjoyed when it is taken slowly. It was hard for me to get used to not caring what time it was, and it was hard for me to not adhere to some type of schedule. When I finally got the hang of it, it was the most freeing feeling imaginable.

Thailand

eating curry in Krabi, Thailand

Feel small

The more of this world I see, the more I realize how small I am and how much more there is out there. It’s hard to see children begging in the streets in Siem Reap, and people living in huts on the side of the road in Vang Vieng and think that my problems are more important or more valid than theirs. That doesn’t mean my problems don’t matter, it just means we all need to realize how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and that the world is so much bigger than anything you could ever imagine it to be. There are 7 billion people on this planet, and at the end of the day, no matter what our color, gender, language, religion, or sexual preference, we’re all searching for the same thing: love, happiness, and belonging.

thailand

standing on the shores of Phi Phi Don while looking out at Phi Phi Leh

Travel has impacted my life in so many ways. Perhaps the most important way has been all of the things it's given me the confidence and will to do. This is what travel has helped me do.

What has travel helped you do?

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  • LOVE THIS POST. I can echo many of your sentiments.

    I am a creature of routines, schedules, and I run a tight ship. Travel pushes me out of my comfort zone, engages my problem solving skills, teaches me, engages me, gives me perspective, enlightens me, and fills me with wonder and desire to see and do all I can.

    • the last sentence you wrote was so beautiful. it read like a poem and it deserves to be put into calligraphy and hung up on the wall.

  • Sarah P

    THIS POST IS AMAZING. I love it. You are probably the most well-traveled person I know and I think that is so cool. Your perspective on life is so different from most people because of it. I haven’t traveled a ton, but I agree with all of this. I think most importantly, it has allowed me to understand that not everyone grew up in small town New Hampshire and that I most definitely took my life for granted.

    • daww! i’m glad you liked it! I completely agree with you about growing up in different places. When you’re younger and live in a small town, it’s hard to imagine life outside of that some times. I think i used to feel a tad suffocated by living in such a small town, but now that i’ve gotten away from it I appreciate it for what it is MUCH more and I love coming back to visit.

  • Such a great post! It’s really amazing how travel can change your life for the better, but also give you the escape that you need! You definitely found the best of both worlds that works for you, because there are some people that wouldn’t be able to handle a hectic schedule that requires a lot of travel.

    • I definitely get people who tell me they’re not interested in living a life like mine (lots of traveling and moving). which i don’t take offense to at all! because I couldn’t imagine living in one place my entire life like they maybe have. you got it right when you said it’s about finding what works for you.

  • Wandering Feline

    Great post! I love reflecting on how long term, independent travel has impacted on my life – I never realised before going how important it would become. I especially relate to how close you can feel with other travellers so quickly when away! I learnt so much about people. Will keep trying with the reaching for my life dreams 🙂 thanks for the inspiration!!

    • glad you enjoyed it, and I’m glad you could relate. i feel that way with a lot of bloggers i meet on the web too. even tho we’ve never “met” we already have so much in common and have some kind of a friendship on a whole other level.

  • Carrie, you are my kind of girl! I loved this post, as you mentioned, it is beautiful when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Thank you for sharing that with us. I particularly related to the phrase “When I got home, the problems I was running from were right there waiting for me.” Ahhh, right in the feeeeeels.

    • haha! i’m glad you can relate and i’m glad it resonated with you Isabel! that’s one of the best parts of blogging, i think 🙂

  • I couldn’t agree more with these, what a great post! They all hit home as travel really helps with a tonne of things, getting outside of your comfort zone and just going with the flow are the best ways 🙂 Thanks for linking up! #WanderfulWednesday

    • Thanks so much, Marcella!! I’m so glad you liked it and thank you for hosting! i’m loving this link-up 🙂

  • absolutely love this post. i haven’t travelled as much as you, but what i have done has made me who i am today, and made me appreciate the world, the people in it and myself. it’s such an amazing experience.

    • you’ve lived in a whole other country tho!!!! i have never done that before but i can imagine how eye-opening it would be to start your life completely over on the other side of the world. My favorite part of what you wrote was that “it has made you appreciate the world, the people in it, and MYSELF”. Amen girl. I think i’ve finally gotten to the point of appreciating myself and it’s a beautiful thing.

  • I can relate to all of these points! Travel helps us learn, change, lose ourselves, hit rock bottom and find ourselves all over again! It brings out so much in us that we didn’t know we were and helps us achieve things we didn’t know were possible! This post was absolutely beautiful and I think that anyone who travels can relate! Thanks for sharing and thanks for linking up Carrie! 😀

    • aww thanks so much for your kind words, Lauren. when I get responses like what you just wrote it makes me remember that there are so many other people out there who have felt what I’ve felt. Just knowing you’re understood is an awesome feeling. thanks for hosting 🙂

  • I totally get all of these points and kinda feel confused about what I want right now too, like you’ve felt once. I don’t really feel comfortable with the idea of staying in Tromso and working full-time while really I’d like to experience new places and do something else than just sit at a desk 5 days a week. I’d love to freelance but am afraid that it leaves me financially unstable while staying on and working gives me stability but it feels like it doesn’t really make me happy. Such a dilemma! 😀

    • ahh yes! definitely a big dilemma. My advice would be trust yourself. Trust in your abilities, and trust in what your gut tells you is the right decision for you at the present time. decisions are awesome because they always keep on coming, so you can always choose another one 🙂 exciting to hear about your move!

  • Beautiful post! I totally get the trouble in balancing the joy from travel with the stability of home. I guess I’ve kind of combined them by becoming an expat 😉 But there’s always so many new places calling to me… wanderlust is such a great problem to have!