Travel Surprises Us, Challenges Us, and Inevitably Changes Us
Airbnb’s newest campaign talks about the power of travel and how it can transform our perceptions of the world and our place in it. We asked 15 bloggers to share their own tranformative travel experiences. Christy Woodrow shares her’s below:
People always talk about how travel is a transformative experience. Likely they follow this up with some personal anecdote about how their study-abroad or year-off changed their life. Well, that’s fine for them, but everyone’s travel experience is different. There’s no guarantee you’re going to face the same challenges, adventures, laughs, and troubles as anyone else. What if you’re not comfortable trying strange foods or meeting new people? What if you’re on a study-abroad course that requires quite a bit of time indoors studying for your courses and not enough for exploring the local culture?
The thing is, that’s the beauty of travel. It’s personal. No matter your situation, no matter how far you travel, just by giving yourself the opportunity to grow, you will. How and how much simply depend on you, and how open to new opportunities you stay.
Choosing to be open to new things and experiences is perhaps the most important way to ensure personal growth while traveling. It can also be one of the hardest. Leaving one’s comfort zone — whether that comfort zone is a small group of friends or a big group of strangers and a bar scene — is uncomfortable, awkward, and occasionally frightening. While you should always listen to your gut in unfamiliar situations, it’s just as important to be able to distinguish the fear of feeling depressed or unsafe from the growing pains of travel. That’s why you should take time to check in with yourself. Journaling or blogging your experiences can be one of the best ways to do this, as well as giving you a way to remember your trip when you return home.
These new opportunities may come naturally, but sometimes you’ll have to take initiative and go look for them. This may require speaking to fellow travelers in your hostel, classmates in your school program, host families, staying with a local through Airbnb, or even complete strangers in public. You may even have to do it in another language, one you don’t speak well. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Making mistakes, whether it’s flubbing your grammar, committing a social faux-pas, or getting incredibly lost in a new city, is how you learn. All good stories hold a grain of conflict, and by staying positive and working one step at a time to solve any problems you may encounter, you’ll end your travel with some really great ones.
Do you have a travel story that tranformed your life? Share your story using hashtag #AirbnbViews. See the campaign and find your next adventure at Airbnb.com/Views
Lastly, it’s important to remember you are in a foreign culture. Not everyone you meet will have the same cultural points of reference or values as you do. Some of their actions, words, and opinions may seem at best strange or uninformed and at worst purposely vicious, but, with rare exception, this won’t usually be the case. Try not to think in terms of “right” and “wrong,” and don’t feel any discussion you get into has to be won by either side. Just listen. Accepting others’ words or action without judgment is hard, but people are generally nicer than you’d expect. Who knows? One of them might change your life. Or maybe you’ll change theirs. You’ll never know unless you try.
In partnership with Airbnb. “Book a home. Get a unique view of the world.” Watch the Airbnb video here.
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