how travel has changed me

I’m so grateful for everything we have experienced these past couple of years and I truly believe this situation has made me a better person. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d live abroad and continue to move around every 6 months. And never did I think I’d be married to a man interested in exploring the world with me. When you start traveling and experiencing wonderful, life-changing things, you realize the possibilities are endless. My family can live anywhere and we can do anything — we just have to figure out how!

If you’re new to this blog, you might be wondering why we moved in the first place. You can read the entire story here, but long story short, my husband was offered an assignment in Aberdeen, Scotland so I quit my job and we moved right after our wedding. We lived in Scotland for a year and have continued to move around the United States every six months. Right now we’re located in Boston, Massachusetts. We love exploring new places!

Like I said, the list is long. But here are a few of the ways travel has forever changed me and my family.

Family photo

1. It has taught us to communicate better
Moving right after our wedding was stressful, chaotic, and a lot to deal with after being husband and wife for only a week. We had to pack up all of our belongings, move them into a storage unit, and ended up staying in a tiny hotel room for a while. Newlywed bliss? I don’t think so. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Of course we fought, but I think it made us stronger in the long-run. We didn’t have family and friends in Scotland so it forced us to rely on each other and communicate in a positive way.

Amalfi Coast

2. It has taught us that memories are more important than “stuff”
Like other women, I enjoy purchasing new clothes and the latest purse that everyone is craving, but traveling has made me realize how little I need. Most of the time when we traveled through Europe, we brought a small backpack each. I packed a few shirts, one pair of jeans, and some comfortable boots and flats and was good to go. Sure, I probably looked like a wrinkly mess by the end of our vacation, but I didn’t care; I was having way too much exploring to worry about my clothes, makeup, and hair!

When we move back to DC and go through the storage unit we haven’t seen for 2 1/2 years, you can bet we’ll be donating around 90% of our belongings. We just don’t need it all.

3. We appreciate what we have so much more
Building on the point above, we are more appreciative for everything we have. After handing out pencils and candy to children in the Atlas Mountains and seeing how excited they were just to receive something to write with and munch on, we’ve realized how much have. We have food, shelter, clothing, and so much to be grateful for. Travel definitely changes you in this regard.

How travel has changed us

4. It has made us more adventurous
We’ve tried “weird” foods, we’ve been on camels and hiked up mountains, we’ve had lunch at an Imam’s house in Morocco, and we’ve stepped out of our comfort zone on numerous occasions. Travel makes you adventurous! When we discuss our travel bucket list with family and friends, some of them think we’re crazy but we don’t think anything of it because our goal is to see the world and experience new cultures. I feel like our life is one big adventure now.

Camel rides

5. It has broadened our horizons
I used to work in politics and that turned me into a very narrow-minded individual. Obviously I wanted to make our country better, but I believed my party was always right and I was stuck in these ways. Now that we’ve traveled around and met so many wonderful people, I’m more open to hearing different ideas. And I’ve realized that all we need is love and respect.

Couples photo in Amsterdam

6. It has made us more flexible
We used to be planners and slowly, we’re learning to roll with the punches. We’re not as type-A and we’ve realized that a change in plans isn’t always a negative thing. Flights get cancelled, travel plans are disrupted, and maybe our rotation assignments won’t always work out, but we’re able to deal with that now.

Suitcase photo

And that’s how travel changed me. How has travel changed you?


Filed Under: Expat, Travel22 Comments
  • Lisette

    Traveling has taught me to pack way way less than what I think I need.

    Also, when I was little I saw how hungry and appreciative little kids were when my dad would buy their groceries. Seeing kids’ eyes light up knowing that they were surprising their mom with a terra cotta pit, rice and beans was eye opening.

    Travel is amazing. Everyone (especially Americans) needs to do more of it.

    • Lisette

      To clarify: I was referring to destitute children in the countryside of the Dominican Republic.

  • Kate Hall

    This sounds like Dan and I a lot! I think for me it’s been a lot of changing my outlook on materialistic aspects of my life and learning to let go. It’s also taught me a lot about who I am and the people I want to be surrounded by.

  • Amanda

    This is a wonderful post Rachel! I can’t help but nod my head to every single one of these! Number 2 is very important to me. Its hard for people back home (family and friends) to understand that not having a ‘home’ and material possessions aren’t as big of a deal for us! We can travel so much because we don’t have ‘things,’

    And talk about flexible!!!! Nothing like being suddenly asked to move out of your house a month before your supposed to, or having a flight cancelled last minute. Yikes! I’m now randomly having issues with my visa (after living here two years), and I just have to know it’s going to figure itself out. :)

  • Marielle Green

    Totally agree with all of these, especially #2. Traveling really taught me how to pack light, to not spent so much time on my hair/makeup, and to save my money for the important things – like seeing more places! Ironically, I’m back home and the stuff is just multiplying. . .but now I know I can give it all up and not even miss it.

  • Danielle E. Alvarez

    Travel’s so good for the soul, isn’t it? I relate to all of these points–except for the first only because have yet to travel with a significant other :). I’d also say that traveling has made me infinitely more humble and self-assured. When the simple things become difficult and your support system is limited, you truly see how extraordinarily fragile yet incredibly capable you are as a human being.

  • Amy @ the tide that left

    All of these are excellent points but I particularly like this one ‘It has taught us that memories are more important than “stuff”’ When you’re old and grey those memories will keep you warm and that’s the greatest thing about all of this.

  • Sara Louise

    No.6, yep, No.6. It’s amazing how much more ‘go with the flow’ I have become since moving to France. I used to sweat the small stuff but now I don’t because there is no point. France has broken me down and I’m thankful :)

  • donnarossa

    I’ve traveled for one year and it changed me. I’m even more open minded, a less material girl, thankful for what I have and way more relaxed. We live in a material (western) world. When I’ve told my friends I quitted my job for traveling they couldn’t understand and told me that I made a mistake. But it’s the opposite. They’re just afraid of doing it too. To step out of this thinking/ living in a box is the best I’ve ever done so far.

  • Sarah Benson

    We’ve just moved abroad so I’m still waiting to see how it will change us but it has definitely caused my husband and I to solely rely on each other and communication improves so much!

  • Chantal

    Our move to Korea has prompted us to get rid of A LOT of stuff, and I love it. I hate having things we don’t need, or haven’t touched in years. What’s the point?

  • Anna @ Eat, See, Do

    Yes, yes and yes. So true, all of it and a great post. What I love is the way that travel changes your perception of yourself and what you can deal with it. I think when you’re a kid you’re open and then as you grow up you start telling yourself you’re this kind of person or that kind of person and then travel and living abroad challenges all that again.

  • Claire (@Kurea_San)

    All of the above. I would also add that I now have much more empathy for people I come across struggling to get by speaking English. Living in a country where you don’t speak the language is such a challenge!!
    Claire xx

  • Jessa Olson

    I love it!! ANother thing I have learned is what weighs 50 lbs..

  • Danielle

    What a good post Rachel!! I think that travel has made me a lot more patient and tolerant, especially back in my own country with people who are trying to communicate and English isn’t their first language. Being on the other side of the language barrier really makes you empathetic to what foreigners are going through.

  • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

    ummm yes. to all of the above. it’s amazing what seeing the world can do to change your life and your outlook. it forever changes you for the better and has changed our outlook to be much more open to what’s around us and to live a much more simplistic life. and even though i’m still a slightly inpatient person, i’m a whole lot more patient than i used to be!

  • Amy @ ToothbrushTravels

    When i said to my friend that i was leaving my home country (England) to move somewhere new (Bangkok) she said to me “You’ll learn more about yourself in the next few months, than you have in your whole life” and she was right. Travel really changes your perspective, both on yourself, those around you and the countries that you visit. I realised the saying “less is more” has never been more true than when applied to lifestyle.

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  • Fran

    Love it! Traveling and meeting new people really does help opening up our minds and you’re so right – listening and respect are so importatn!

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  • Leah S.

    This is wonderful! I think one of the things I am working on, is trying to focus less on stuff and more on what is important in life. Traveling has taught me that I am so fortunate to live in a stable country and I take that for granted way too often.

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