I’ve learned a lot about myself through my travels, and here are some lessons I’ve picked up along the way…

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Learn to let go of the things that are beyond your control. Worrying about things that you can’t change is a useless and unproductive activity. If you are constantly worried about all the “what if’s”, you won’t notice all of the great things right under your nose. If you can’t control it, don’t bother thinking about it. Stop worrying, start living. If you can control it, take action.

All about the people: It’s not where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, or what new things you have tried that makes traveling so special. It’s not the visiting of famous tourist destinations and crossing countries off the passport bucket list. It’s the people you meet that make traveling so special. It’s the conversations you have. The relationships that you build. The exposure to new ways of thinking and living. The experiences that you share. This is singlehandedly the greatest thing that I have experienced through traveling. Thank you to all the beautiful, fantastic, wonderful, loving, caring people I have met throughout the last few years, you are all amazing 🙂

Perceptions Vs. Reality: One thing that I have found consistent from country to country is that ones perception of a country, and the reality of what that country is like, are always two completely different things. Every time I have been to a country, my perceptions and expectations never aligned with the reality. There is no way to get a feel for a country without being there…

Its different for everyone: No two people will have the same journey. No two people will appreciate the same event in the same way. No two people will have the same conversations even if they went to the same places as someone else. You can try and mimic someone’s trip to a T, but it will still be yours. It will still be unique and novel to you, and what you take away from it will be only yours. Create memories that you will look back on and smile, because only you can do that for yourself.

Mistakes: There is no such thing as a mistake. The biggest “mistakes” that we make are often the ones that lead us to the most profound discoveries about ourselves. As long as there is a lesson to be learned from the “mistake” then it was never a mistake at all. Learn from your past decisions and become a better person.

Life isn’t all that different: Many times once we settle down in a new country our life isn’t that much different than it was in our home country that we began in. We go to work, eat some good food, have hobbies and hang out with friends. Yes there is the initial adjustment period, but oftentimes our lives aren’t THAT drastically different. However, when you remove yourself from the comforts and friends that you grew up with, you realize what YOU want to do with your life. You realize what really makes you happy and pursue your own interests…and then you gravitate to the people who you really have been searching for all along. So if you are ever considering moving abroad for an extended period of time, realize it isn’t as scary as you think and take the plunge. You’ll thank me later.

False Association: When something goes wrong during our travels, we sometimes project our frustration onto a country as a whole, rather than the situation itself. For example, we might get food poisoning, or get robbed, and at the end of it say “I hate this country”. It’s unfair to blame an entire country for that problem. You can hate the driver who ripped you off, or the food that made you sick, or the asshole who robbed you, but that in no way is indicative of a country as a whole. So the next time you say “I hate ____ country”, ask yourself, “do you really hate the country, or did you just have a bad experience?”

It makes you appreciate home: After a long time on the road nothing beats seeing your family (+dog of course) and falling into your own bed to sleep endlessly and stuff your face at will. Since traveling I now appreciate the comforts of a hot shower and a great bed, but more importantly I appreciate the scenery. I appreciate the change in season where the leaves turn orange and yellow and it begins to get cold out. I appreciate the nearby mountains and road trips more than I used to. Traveling has given me the ability to get a fresh perspective on my own culture and things that I may have otherwise overlooked.

Do it while you can: Travel the world when you have the opportunity, postponement never works. I have met countless people who say things like “I’ll travel once I have a good job and I’m financially stable”, but those who try this will find that this mentality rarely works. The longer you stay at home the more responsibilities you have, and those responsibilities tie you down. People always say “travel while you’re young”, and they say it for a reason. If you want to do it, go do it, because you may never get the opportunity again.

Personal Fulfillment: Nothing makes me happier than inspiring others to travel the world and helping them find ways to do it. In the last three hours I had two conversations with friends who I grew up with, who now want to travel and work abroad. I had a huge smile on my face the entire time. Why? Because this is what I care about. This is what I love. It is my passion. I want to help other people see the world, and see how they grow from seeing the world. Challenge perspectives and break out of comfort zones. To all those who desire to see and experience more, thank you for inspiring me

Troy Erstling

Originally published at www.braingain.co.

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