I 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 country—England—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).