No decision has had a greater impact on our lives than the decision to sell everything, leave home, and travel together as a family. We’ve never been happier, felt closer together, and enjoyed our experiences and relationships so thoroughly as we do right now. This month, as part of a group writing project with other traveling families, I’m going to attempt to share some of the life lessons I’ve learned “on the road.”
I hesitated in joining this writing project because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that I don’t know anything. My views are constantly challenged, and the moment I become sure of something is the moment I close my mind to more learning and growth. I feel younger than a baby in my understanding of life, people, and the universe. But without travel, I don’t know if I would have realized this to the same degree, and for that I am grateful.
We’ve been traveling as a family for over 1,000 days now. I have certainly changed during that time, but many of the changes have been gradual, and many of my former beliefs and habits now feel foreign to me. So it’s difficult to put the lessons I’ve learned into words. Also, I don’t necessarily embody all of these lessons completely, but they’re ideas I have found helpful so far in my life, and have learned since we began traveling. I hope you enjoy them.
1. My way isn’t the best way.
It’s just one way. I no longer believe there is a “best” way for everybody. Each person has their own preferences, beliefs, and dreams. Differences are what make life interesting and give it flavor. I’m happier when I appreciate those differences, rather than try to change them to be more like mine. Wade Davis said, “Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you.” And this applies to more than just culture.
2. Change is inevitable.
Change can be resisted, but it cannot be stopped. People grow, age, and die. Small towns turn into cities. Cultures, trends, and businesses gain and lose their influence. Countries form and divide. Relationships begin and end. Emotions rise and fall. I’ve learned that as I “go with the flow,” accept things as they are, and become comfortable with change rather than resist it, life goes more smoothly for me.
3. Life is for enjoying.
That may be the only thing it’s for. It’s important to spend time planning for the future and learning from the past and from others. But the memories that stand out as the most meaningful to me are those when I am mindful and completely present in the moment, grateful for whatever I have and whatever I’m experiencing. Even the simplest and most ordinary moments can be marvelous when I slow down, let my thoughts, labels, and judgments go, and experience life with my other senses. Alternatively, otherwise perfect moments can become miserable if not appreciated. Each breath is precious.
4. It’s okay to say no.
I don’t like to disappoint people, or to miss out on opportunities, but I’ve learned how important it is to respect my needs and limits, and to say “no” when necessary. From being hounded on the streets by overly persistent sales people, to getting vibes about certain people I meet, to recognizing when I’m too tired or overstimulated to go out, I’m getting better at setting my own boundaries and trusting my feelings. This has helped keep me balanced and in a healthier frame of mind.
5. Life is education.
Everything I experience teaches me something, whether it’s a book I read, a person I meet, or a realization that comes when my mind is quiet. This happens on its own, often without me knowing it. Traveling has broadened this education by presenting me with new ideas, situations, and experiences. Learning is much more than a mental exercise or study in a classroom. It’s life.
To read about what other families have learned since they began traveling, check out the links below, and please feel free to share what you’ve learned in the comments.
- Travel Lessons: Can You Embrace the Unknown
- 3 Things We’ve Learned While Living Outside of the USA
- Two things I know for sure
- I Know Nothing (and 99 Other Things The Road Has Taught Me)
- Life Lessons from the Road: A Little Bit of Planning Goes a Looong Way
- So it’s been 6 Months – You won’t believe what we have learnt!
- 6 Life Lessons From the Road
- 15 Lessons Traveling Has Taught Me
- Lessons from the Road of Life
- Lessons from the Journey
- Travel: Teaching Us About Ourselves
- Complaining won’t change a gosh-darn thing
- The Ten Things I Learned on the Road That I Did Not Want To
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Beautifully written! I love how open, honest, and humble your intro is! Well done.
I love all these things you’ve been learning. It’s amazing too that the learning just never seems to end, especially when we allow ourselves to be open to it, as we experience, with all our senses, the wonder of “even the simplest and most ordinary moments.” Learning feels really good. :)
Ashley Pearce liked this on Facebook.
Beautifully written, Brandon. Like Mary said, your introduction is so honest and open. I loved this post and absolutely relate to all the lessons you’ve learned. Really nice.
I might just have to argue the fact that you ‘don’t know anything’. :)
You have inspired me with your successes, thanks for sharing.
Funny how such a small word, “no”, can sometimes be so hard to use! But what a valuable lesson that is to understand and be comfortable using it when appropriate.
I love that quote…“Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you.” I most appreciate it in the context of cultures in general, because I think our home American culture seems to teach our children that every culture wants to be and should be like America. That’s just flat out wrong, and I’m glad I can get out and experience it and see that. Life certainly IS an education–you can’t help but learn endlessly!
Kristin Hays Cottle liked this on Facebook.
I wholeheartedly agree with all of this. You have learned some incredible things that most people (including me) may never grasp. I need to constantly remind myself to strive to live this way in every aspect of my life. Thank you for sharing!!
Nice post Brandon. I enjoyed reading about what you have learned.
Lovely post. Sometimes it’s not until we take a moment to stand back and reflect that we realize how much we get from travel. This series of posts has been the perfect opportunity to reflect and it’s so interesting to see the different ways we’ve all approached it.
Ahhhh “no” the hardest thing a sanguine can say. How to say no to every experience, every dream, every wish… But sometimes – it’s a lesson I learn everyday on the road.
Hi. I was just reading another blog today about a family who’s done something similar but in Costa Rica. Here the link: http://lostandfoundfamily.com/. Thought you might be interested. Good luck on your adventures!
Eloquently stated, as usual. What a beautiful topic from your traveling families group. Really appreciate when you all choose a topic to write on – very powerful.
There seems to be a theme of people learning to say no through travel. I thought it was only me who had trouble saying no without feeling bad!! Love your list and glad you participated. You certainly know lots of useful stuff!
These are wonderful things that you have learned. It’s so good to see that travel can transform your life and views in so many aspects. Thanks for the great post!
“Its okay to say no” is a really important lesson many just dont get….they either say yes to everything, or no to everything. Having the right balance is so critical to life’s happiness IMO.
Yes, important ideas. Thanks for sharing…
Thank you for this list, very inspiring. I’m now considering to carry on my journey when I will have a family :))