I often say that I didn’t choose travel, travel chose me. When I signed up for that year-long study abroad program in France my junior year of college, I had no idea it would lead to a lifelong love affair with globetrotting.
Now, nearly 15 years after I crossed the Atlantic for the first time, I’ve set foot in nearly 100 countries, made a career in travel (first through international teaching, currently as a travel writer), and I can’t imagine life any other way.
Travel has been a guiding force in my existence—wholly transformational and absolutely educational. People often ask about the most powerful things I’ve learned in my around-the-world explorations. This is what I tell them....
1. People are inherently good. Despite the scary anecdotes from news outlets, movies, and well-meaning, but uninformed friends, the world isn’t as dangerous as it seems. Let’s get real: The likelihood is that you won’t get kidnapped and tortured as you backpack across Europe à la the poor souls in the movie Hostel! On the contrary, local people in the places I’ve travelled to have accorded me a stunning amount of respect, kindness, and care; strangers from Mexico to Mongolia have opened up their homes to me and have welcomed me to their countries with open arms. The bottom line, as Mahatma Gandhi himself once said: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
2. You grow through what you go through. From the planning stages to actually being on the road, I’m a firm believer that travel makes you stronger on all levels. Trekking through the foothills of the Nepali Himalayas with a bum leg and an upset tummy tested my physical and emotional mettle; going to the Old City of Jerusalem and wandering through the Muslim, Christian, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters challenged my spiritual beliefs; and bargaining in Beijing’s market (with limited Chinese!) made me flex my mental muscles. Travelling has forced me to think more quickly on my feet, become more knowledgeable, resourceful, and empathetic. If these experiences haven’t made me a stronger person, I don’t know what possibly could!
3. Gratitude is the sign of noble souls. The Greek storyteller Aesop said that, and any good traveller should never forget it. Exploring the world, as well as seeing how other people live, has made me recognize how hugely privileged I am. I have travelled to countries where poverty is rife, where the infrastructure and political situation have made day-to-day life difficult, and where freedom of speech and movement are nearly impossible. I’ve met children who will never have the opportunity to continue their education beyond high school because they have to go work in order to support their families; I’ve met women who will forever be seen and not heard because that’s the expectation in the communities they inhabit. By contrast, I am free, well-fed, well-educated. I am more than my gender, I am from a country that is politically stable, and I have a voice. All of these things make me more privileged than the vast majority of the world’s population—and for that I will be eternally grateful!
As your new Sun Goddess here at Horoscope.com, I look forward to sharing more life lessons from my life as a digital nomad: from the best vacation destinations and deals for spirit-minded travelers; to on-the-road self-care tips; to insights on how you can harness the power of travel to gain clarity, get empowered, and become your very best self. I'm thrilled that we'll be discovering some of the world's most beautiful places, traditions and spiritual practices, together!