5 Things Traveling The World Taught Me

World traveler(Photo by Gavin Firkser)

Traveling is one of life’s pleasures that can teach you more about yourself then just about anything. I recently had a chance to travel through Europe, and throughout my trip I saw a lot and had a ton of different experiences. When I got back to America I started to reminisce on everything I had just experienced, and I began to realize how many things I learned.

Here’s a list of the 5 main things traveling taught me:

#1. I Am So Lucky To Be American

Being able to even afford the ability to travel the world was a luxury in itself, but once I got to other countries it became all the more apparent how lucky I really am. Through all the different cultures and traditions I got to experience in my seven-country expedition, there was one thing that stood out to me: there is just no place like America.

The simplicity of the US dollar, the technological advances like having a dryer in your home, the ease of splitting checks when you’re at a restaurant, and the general availability of food were some things that I noticed are much more opulent to have in America compared to the countries I went to. While adventuring new places and encountering new people was awesome, there was still that constant lingering thought in my head that “Man, I miss being in America.”

#2. We’re Not So Different

While the language barrier is a common disconnect and the currency is different, at the end of the day these people from other countries are just like me. Going through the markets in Hungary, or sitting down at the pubs in Germany, I began to notice a common theme among the locals, and it was so simple.

When I got a chance to sit down and talk with all the people and share laughs, hugs, and tears over the same things we do in America, I finally realized that they’re not so different from me after all.  Some locals I met were kind while others were rude. Some locals were having a good day while others were having a noticeably bad day. Some of them embraced the tourists, while some didn’t care for us. In the end, throughout noticing these emotions and personalities, it became apparent to me that they have an assortment of people with all different mindsets and thought processes – just like we do in America.

#3. There’s So Much More To Life Than Money

When you get to meet people who have nothing- no iPhone, Macbook, dishwasher, dryer, WiFi, or other modern conveniences – and see them smiling as if all is good in the world, it truly is a culture shock. In a day, and country, where everyone is so used to having things at the touch of a fingertip, seeing people without that access enjoy life more than I do, with everything I have, changed my whole perspective on life and happiness. It feels like in America it’s stressed that money is the motive, when the only true wealth people abroad tend to care about is health and family.

Aside from seeing how people in other countries live and adapt to financial struggles, I began to grasp the general fact that I’d rather spend my time and money on traveling then on any type of superficial item. I can’t recall a time in my life where money wasn’t the root of my thoughts and all I thought about was exploring. That’s what life should be about.

#4. “A Journey Is Best Measured In Friends, Rather Than Miles.”

I had the opportunity to visit seven countries this summer, and my best memories are of all the people I was with. Sure, traveling alone is probably an unbelievable experience and can teach you a lot about yourself, but being able to soak in different societies and to enjoy it all with your good friends makes it that much more memorable.

When I think back to my times traveling, I don’t think of myself standing in front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague, Czech Republic. I picture me and three of my great friends soaking in the art and beauty while joking around and meeting the locals. Had my friend not made a simple comment to one of the locals, my entire trip would have been different. This is just a sample of the amount of trip-changing memories I have traveling with my friends.

#5. Everyone Should Travel At Least Once In Their Life

Since I’ve returned stateside, I’ve received the same questions over and over asking me how my trip was. The thing is, traveling abroad is one of those things that you can’t explain. The only thing I tell everyone is that they’ll never really understand what it was like until they do it themselves. I urge everybody out there not to take my word for what the world is like, and to go spend a hefty amount of time out of your comfort zone. Eventually it becomes quite comforting to feel like you fit in to another society. I even have friends who plan to move to countries we’ve visited because they could truly see themselves living there for years.

I know a lot of people don’t have the financial support to be able to travel, but there are loopholes to traveling that can make it quite inexpensive. However, as I mentioned before, traveling shouldn’t be about money, it should be about experience. My life experience has been enhanced due to my times abroad. If I learned nothing else, I learned that life is short. So, have a great adventure, make some awesome new memories, and live with no regrets!

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About Brandon Plotnick

Brandon Plotnick is a student at Florida State University, majoring in the Editing, Writing, and Media program in the English department, with a focus on sports journalism and media production. He has written for Florida State’s student newspaper, The FSView, as well as a Greek Life newsletter, The Odyssey, in his time at Florida State University. His dream is to cover South Florida professional athletics as a sports writer. Brandon was born and raised in Weston, Florida, and currently has a residence in South Florida.

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