The One Thing

The One Thing: How Travel Changes You.

February 19, 2015
“If you had met me at the ripe young age of 19 and told me that I would travel to some of the far corners of the world before my 30th birthday I would have told you that you were nuts.”

I never had the desire to travel and always assumed it was out of my reach financially. It wasn’t until several years later that a strikingly handsome and charming Englishman walked into my life and showed me just how wrong I was. Before I knew it I was swept off my feet, my bags were packed, and I was on a one way flight to England with a visa in hand. 
Suffice it to say, since that day, travel has been a huge part of my life. It has changed me in irreversible, soul expanding, life altering ways. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from traveling at least once in their lives, here’s why: 
// It Expands Your Mind, Heart, and Soul //
… in a way few other things can. There is something about being present in those moments and feeling it with all of your senses that leaves a mark on your soul long after you’ve left, in a way that no book or TV program can.
From the shores of Mauritius to the edge of the Grand Canyon, each place I’ve visited has been a place where I’ve done my most valuable soul searching. More so, travel has left me with an even more profound sense of gratitude for all that I have in life. 
// You Discover Who You Really Are //
Traveling to foreign lands tests your emotional limits as well as your knowledge and patience. This is not only a humbling experience, but one that forces you to rely on yourself, know yourself, and trust yourself. Especially if you travel solo. 
I remember the exact moment my soul opened like a giant doorway to a world of new possibilities. I was standing outside the airport in Cairo, Egypt with the hot sun shining on my face, the smell of diesel car fumes in the air and the blaring azan (5x daily call to prayer to broadcast across the city) drowning out all other sounds. 
It was in that moment I felt more alive than ever before. Not the most glamorous or dreamy setting but there was something about the assault on my senses that told me the world was my oyster, and I was ready to explore it. I wasn’t that timid teenager anymore.
// It Scares You //

You might be wondering why that’s a good thing. Ask any traveler to recall a scary moment during their travels and I guarantee most of them will have at least one, and they probably feel some sense of pride from having survived it. 
There are so many unknowns when you travel, particularly to a foreign land. How will I communicate? What happens if I get lost? What will the food be like? 

Big and small fears alike present a unique opportunity to empower yourself and grow as a person. Many of the things we fear in life end up being non-issues. I’m a HUGE worrier. So this has been a big lesson for me.

I can honestly say that out of every scary moment, I can look back and not only have a wonderful story and memory, but a sense of achievement for having overcome it.
My hope is that each one of you finds the opportunity to travel at least once in your life. Whether it’s to the other side of the country or the other side of the world, I’m certain you will gain more from the experience than you will ever lose. 
If you have already started traveling, how has it changed you?
Follow my adventures at:
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*Today’s post was a guest post, written by V from Life+1. If you are interested in sharing w/ Ember Grey readers The One Thing that inspires you or has changed you for the better, you can find more info here

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  • Love following V's adventures!! And I agree with everything she's said here about traveling. This is so good.

  • Jae

    Love this, V! Envious of the places you've been to most especially Cairo, Egypt!

  • A wonderful post! Travel is such an amazing thing and I agree with all of your points 🙂 Travel definitely gave me more confidence and pushed me to challenge myself in new ways. Without travel I wouldn't have met my husband-to-be either 😀

  • Incredible! Ha, my post today is about my desire to travel- we must have a getaway on the brain! I have got to travel some, but I want to do so much more and I want to go as a family- which makes it a bit trickier. Still we they any financial caution to the wind and went on two trips this year and they were unforgettable. Times I will never forget. Hopefully it's the beginning of lots more adventure!

  • Totally agree with all of this! I've been out of the country only 3 times but those times truly did open up my eyes and heart to another culture and help me get outside of myself and all of my preconceived notions about the world.

  • V is so right about the sense of pride and achievement you get from making it through tough adventures whilst trying new things. Travel pushes you to test your own limits and that's one of the best things about it. You can't help but walk away a different (and hopefully better) person.

  • In your own country or on the other side of the world, there is so much to see! I'm glad you've had a chance to get out and explore. :o)

  • Great minds Chelsea,… ;o)

    Travel with children definitely has it's challenges. I've always felt that seeing new places was better than reading about it in a text book. Your little 'Wilds' are already miles ahead of most kids with all of their outdoor exploration!

  • Thank you Marcella! Confidence gained from travel. You're so right, that is such a big thing. Cheers to meeting handsome foreign men! ;o)

  • Thanks Jae. I would love to see some of the Eastern countries that you have been to! Thailand looks amazing.

  • Aww, thanks Amy. What a sweet comment. Made me smile. :o)

  • What a beautifully selfless way to travel Megan! That sounds like the beginning of a great plan…I really hope it comes to fruition soon! Keep us posted. :o)

  • I love this. I really wish I had the funds to travel more often.

  • Thanks Stephanie. That was a major concern of mine for many years as well. Once I decided to take the plunge I found that traveling is not as expensive as I had thought and there are many ways to make it more affordable. I truly hope you are able to travel somewhere new this year! :o)

  • oh I absolutely love this. And the pictures with it just makes the post! 🙂 I've never done any travelling. Not outside of the US anyway. It's something my husband and I plan to do when the kids are older. Both of us are dying to see Puerto Rico!

  • I love this. I didn't realize how deeply I needed to travel until I just did it. I'm so glad I did. I'm glad that I thought "I can pay my student loans off when I'm dead" + made travel a priority over them.

  • Thanks for sharing, V! I love traveling, and especially traveling on a budget. I'm a firm believer that most people can travel if they budget correctly and embrace simple living in other areas of life. We don't need extra income to make it happen, we can work with what we already have. I will always believe that money spent on travel goes so much farther than money spent on possessions, cars, bigger homes, etc. Travel creates memories that last for a lifetime, builds up our relationships, and expands our minds! I love how you mention that traveling has helped you be brave and overcome fears. I've experienced the same thing. 🙂

  • I feel the same way about my student loans! I pay them regularly but don't let them get in the way of travel.

  • YES! I couldn't agree with you more Brittany. It's just getting over that false belief that all travel is unaffordable. In fact, some of the most humbling and gratifying travel experiences come from seeing a culture in a realistic way. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  • You can't take it with you when you go! But the memories of traveling will stay with you for a lifetime. How do you put a price on that?

  • Thanks so much for the kind words Melissa. I really hope you make the leap into traveling someday soon. I can totally understand wanting to wait until your kids are a bit older. We are often the same when planning travel with our son. So many things we want to save until he's actually able to remember it!

  • oh my gosh, the scary one – my mind went back to the memory i always think of when i think of a scary moment, and it was my first trip to america. yep, i am damn proud i survived that lol.

  • Ooooh no. I'm afraid you're gonna have to tell me now Kristen!…

  • Love this! I've always felt the same about traveling. I did a lot in my 20's and don't as much now but I'm so glad that I learned the things mentioned in this post while I could 🙂

  • Thanks Kelli. What has been your favorite destination that you visited and why?

  • I'm with V- I need to know too, Kristen! 😉

  • Then it's a must!!! It is for sure on my prayer list everyday!! I am hoping that God will bring it into place!! I have no idea where I would want to go…It just sounds amazing!

  • We went with our church to Romania. Amazing trip!!

  • I have traveled to lots of the U.S. and Mexico but really need to get out of the country and check some stuff out! Seeing your Grand Canyon pic….my daughter (24 mind you) was having a complete panic attack on our visit yesterday at people moving out towards the edge! I seriously had at least 6 feet between me and the edge and she was begging me to come back! Girl needs to live a little

  • aww! haha! When I went to the Grand Canyon with my family, we rode donkeys into the canyon and let me tell you- that ride is NOT for someone who is afraid of heights. My poor brother – I didn't know if he was going to make it!

  • Liz

    This is so true. Beautiful post! My family gave us great travel opportunities when we were younger around the US and to Canada. As I got older, my husband and I have traveled to Europe (I visited…we met in Rome, after he had a summer internship in Turkey), and to Mexico, but after having three little ones, we have not gone anywhere in a while. We were just talking about this the other day! Take advantage while you can…and you are right…it opens you up to entirely new feelings and experiences. Loved this <3

  • It's so lovely of you to say. I don't always feel courageous!

  • Oh gosh there are so many favorites. New Zealand was such a unique trip due to the sheer beauty of the mountains!

  • chall1018

    Beautiful post! Nate and I always say that when we retire we are going to travel the world!

  • Well I LOVE that idea! Where is the first place you'd want to go?

  • chall1018

    We are huge baseball fans…so we really want to travel and visit all the different stadiums around the US. Preferably when the Rangers are playing!!

  • Love it!! That sounds like my bff and her husband – they try to take a small trip once a year to see all of the different baseball stadiums, but now with 2 kids it's hard to get away. Fingers crossed you guys get to do this!!