Why Travel Has Made Me Thankful

112609 - Machu PicchuI became a frequent flyer (though not a cardholder) before the age of three. I ticked off states and national parks on summer road trips with my family that zig-zagged across the United States. Except for a few forays across the U.S.-Canada border growing up, I didn’t travel to my first foreign countryโ€”Englandโ€”until I was a sophomore in high school.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a handful of countries on six continents. I’ve met locals who have helped me navigate tricky customs and cultures. I’ve chatted with travel enthusiasts personally and virtually who have inspired me to think about why and how I travel. Needless to say, travel is a large part of my life, and it’s definitely taught me a few things along the way. Here, in honor of Thanksgiving, are a few of the things travel has made me most thankful for:

  • An open mind. Even if I don’t initially agree with something, I think I take more time to seek out information now than I did before I started traveling in order to voice a sound opinion. I know people aren’t necessarily what they appear at face value, and I believe everyone has the right to share where they are coming from before they’re needlessly judged.
  • The ability to create minimal waste. In our neighborhood, the garbage truck comes twice a week and the recycling company stops by once every two weeks. As far as I’m concerned, we could use the recycling services at least once a week and the garbage removal once every couple months. It appears that a lot of my neighbors believe out of sight is out of mind, but having walked past many a garbage-filled ditch on my travels, I know that someone somewhere is paying for the cost of our waste. Besides, there are so many things that people discard that can be given a second life.
  • A distaste for “stuff.” Generally, if I don’t need it, I don’t want it. I would much rather have an experience and create a memory. I agree with the old adage: The best things in life aren’t things.
  • Diversity. I love that the world isn’t monochromatic, and I love that we all have different backgrounds and stories. There’s nothing I appreciate more than the fact that a dozen different people can be in the same room and they can all have something different to say about the same subject matter. The world would be a very boring place if we were all the same.
  • A great travel partner. I love hitting the road with my husband. We both like to be challenged when we travel, and together we make a fab travel team, if I do say so myself. I’m glad that I’ve found someone who doesn’t frustrate or irritate me on the go, and, in fact, we grow closer each time we travel together.
  • Being a short person with small feet. Having a small stature makes tight packing a lot easier. A week’s worth of clothes is rarely more than two inches in height, and shoes easily slide into a bag when they’re small enough to buy in the kids’ department.
  • My own bed. Regardless of where I travel or for how long, I always welcome a night back in my own bed, complete with cats at my feet and head (especially since we bought a super squishy organic mattress this past summer).

15 Responses to “Why Travel Has Made Me Thankful”

  1. Lola

    Love the travel angle to being grateful this holiday season!

    The more we travel, the more our issues and perceived problems are put in perspective, relative to others.

    Have a fantastic Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  2. Cory

    Thanks for giving me my own bullet point! I love traveling with you too.

    Reply
  3. Candice

    Nice! I’m thankful for the opportunity to travel at all, it’s really a blessing.

    Reply
  4. brian

    You are lucky to have a great travel partner. People go solo because they can’t find someone compatible, or they just can’t find someone willing to travel as long and as far as you want.

    Sharing a trip with someone is great and preferable if you can find someone who is in sync with you. Most people can’t.

    Reply
  5. Gray

    I couldn’t agree with you more. One of the greatest things about travel is being exposed to diverse cultures and opinions. It challenges our long-held beliefs, makes us think more, and ultimately makes us better people. I, too, have a dislike for “stuff”. The less “stuff” I have, the more I can afford to travel! You are indeed very fortunate to have the perfect traveling companion in Cory. We should all be so lucky. I hope you two are having a terrific Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  6. AdventureRob

    Garbage truck comes twice a week? One comes every 2 weeks where I’m from and the recycle truck in between, it works very well and balances out surprisingly well.

    Nice post to read though ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks giving is a very friendly holiday.

    Reply
  7. Nancy

    Wonderful post. I couldn’t agree more with everything travel has made you thankful for. (Except the last one. I’m 5’11 so no luck there!) I love what you said about you and your husband too. My husband and I feel the same way. He’s definitely my ideal travel partner. We balance each other out and are always up for adventure. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  8. Abbie

    I love this spin on being thankful – it’s a great list! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  9. TheWordWire

    Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful article — this is the best what-I’m-thankful-for list I’ve seen! Last week when I was thinking about the things in my own life I’m thankful for, the opportunities to travel ranked at the top of my list. I’ve still got lots left to see in the world, but I’m very grateful for the lessons of past trips.

    Reply
  10. Sarah

    Agree on every one of these, JoAnna. Can I add one totally selfish one, though? A steaming hot shower…

    Reply
  11. Anil

    Traveling frequently tends to make you more adaptable and lighter which are two things people sometimes have difficulty with in general. I like being short too, makes those tiny airplane seats more tolerable ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Reply
  12. heather, the kiwitravelwriter

    Good stuff . i must make a list of my own ‘thanksful for’ travel-realted /learnt stuff even if we dont ‘do’ thanksgiving here in NZ

    Reply
  13. Fida

    I could have written that post (just not as excellent as you), except my shortness doesn’t bring the same advantage. Scaling down to bare essentials when packing isn’t my forte – though I am much better then I was ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Happy Holidays and safe travels in 2010!

    Reply
  14. Marc

    This is great, except only being a US traveller I’ve found very little in cultural diversity here, but that is absolutely what I am most thankful for when I travel. Thankfully my recent trips to San Francisco and Phoenix have shown me that. Much more different than upstate New York or Des Moines Iowa. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      I think it depends on where you go in the U.S. Some cities and states are definitely more diverse than others.

      Reply

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