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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12 things I learned from traveling every month for a year

12 things I learned from traveling every month for a year:

 In 2017 I made it a goal to travel once a month for the full year. I began the year by listing some of the places I wanted to travel to. Looking at the list, I felt overwhelmed, excited, and honestly had no clue how I was going to pull it off. While my husband and I both worked, we didn’t have a lot of extra spending money and we were both new in our jobs so we didn’t have a lot of vacation days. I had the first three months set in stone and decided I would figure the rest out as the year went along. This was the goal I was most looking forward to and after completing it, it’s my favorite goal I’ve accomplished. I have always loved to travel and after spending so much time with it this year, I’ve learned quite a bit from it. Here are my 12 take-aways from traveling each month for a year. 


1.       It’s possible if you make it a priority 

I had a lot of people (myself included) wonder how I was going to make this work. Traveling can be expensive and it is time consuming. I knew early on if I wanted to travel each month, I would need to make it one of my top priorities. This meant less eating out, cheaper date nights, less shopping, searching for deals, traveling with others, and taking advantage of weekends. 9 of my trips ended up being weekend get-aways, preventing me from using any of my vacation days. (I often travelled on a holiday weekend to ensure I had the most time possible). I started following Instagram feeds that posted airfare deals, I found other people who wanted to come with me, who would share a hotel room, and we drove whenever possible. 

Ultimately, what I learned is it is possible to travel often, if you’re motivated enough to cut your spending somewhere else and if you’re able to say goodbye to lazy/busy weekends at home. 

2. Travel isn’t always luxurious, and most of the time it’s not at all. 

I know some people do have luxurious travel and are able to afford tours and nice hotels, but that’s not me. My travel includes affordable airfare, moderate hotels (or Airbnb) and lots of budgeting! Flying can be exhausting, driving can be exhausting, learning where to go once you get to your destination can be exhausting, and walking around all day can be exhausting. Social media makes travel look so glamorous and wonderful and while I love to travel, most of the time it’s not glamorous. And while it’s wonderful, it can also be tiring and hard. 

3.       There’s so much beauty to see

This year my eyes have been opened to just how beautiful this world really is. I know that’s a cheesy thing to say, but there is beauty everywhere. Whether it was a staircase from the 1700s in the Bahamas, arches in Utah, or the beautiful history of Paris; this world offers a lot. Not only are the buildings, structures, cities beautiful, but the people are as well. Which leads me to #4.

4.       This world is good. People are good. 

There’s nothing like traveling, especially to another country, to leave you feeling sometimes helpless or lost. In those moments (as well as others) it’s easy to see how good the world can be. My sister and I were in Paris, with no cell reception or internet, trying to figure out how to coordinate with our AirBnB hostess. We were exhausted after what ended up being more than a day of unplanned travel and wandered into a park trying to find someone to help us. We asked a woman if there were pay phones or somewhere close with free wifi. She took the number we had, called the man, and let him know we were there. As neither of us spoke French, this was so helpful! I witnessed so much good like this all over. 

5.       There’s adventure in your own backyard. 

Traveling this much for me, meant I needed to stick close to home for many of my trips. We went to 3 places in Utah and 1 in Idaho I had never visited. You don’t have to travel far to travel. In fact, I could probably spend every weekend of my life traveling Utah without seeing it in its entirety. Sometimes we think of travel as some far off place, but it doesn’t have to be. Wherever you live, pick a new place and go. I guarantee there is something for you to experience. Traveling around Utah was one of my highlights from the year. 

6.       You can travel to the same place twice and still see something new 

During this year of travel, I visited 7 places I had already been to before. In several of these places, we tried new things, visited new places, and had different experiences. We went off the beaten path and learned there’s more than meets the eye in many places. For one trip, we went to Las Vegas. Rather than staying on the strip, gambling, or going to shows, we went hiking at Red Rock and took the drive to Seven Magic Mountains. While we did visit the strip for a dinner buffet, we didn’t spend our time there, we didn’t even stay on the strip. It was Vegas in a new way and I loved it! 

7.       It doesn’t have to be expensive 

Often, when people think of traveling, one of the first thoughts is it’s too expensive. What I learned this year is traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. I took several trips where I spent less than $200 total. Some tips to save money? Travel with others. This way you can split gas, hotel rooms, and activity costs. Shop around. I live in Utah and follow the Instagram account: flightsfromhome.slc This resource helped me fly roundtrip to Paris for under $500. Use AirBnB. Often, AirBnB is cheaper than hotels. You get to live like a local and often have a kitchen so you can make your own meals rather than eating out. Stay close to home. If you’re budget restrains you from spending too much, stay in state. I guarantee there are plenty of things to see and do in your own backyard. 

8.       You build stronger relationships with the person you travel with 

I primarily traveled with my husband, but also took trips with other family members. My relationships with each person I traveled with was strengthened. Sometimes traveling is hard and having someone stick it out with you brings you closer. Travel also brings inside jokes and new experiences. Research shows when you experience something new with someone, your bond is strengthened. The memories you make with your travel companion(s) will last forever. 

9.       Travel brings wealth 

Have you ever heard the quote: “Travel: it’s the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer”. In my time I’ve spent traveling this year, I’ve found this to be true. I have less money in my pocket than I would’ve had I saved every dollar I spent on travel, however I feel like the experiences I’ve had have made me a better, well rounded person. These experiences have brought a wealthy money can’t buy. 

10.   Travel allows you to try new things/new experiences 

When I travel I like to try new food, walk through regular neighborhoods, and do what the locals do. I’ve found this is the best way to experience a new place. While I still play tourist and visit all of the popular sites, I know there is more out there. I went to Rome a few years ago and tried this lasagna that didn’t necessarily look great, but it looked better than the alternative. I tasted it and it was (and still is) the most delicious lasagna I’ve ever had. When you travel, don’t be afraid to try something new. The experience is worth it!

11.   Travel takes you out of your comfort zone

I hate talking to strangers. I hate getting lost. I don’t like trying new foods. I could go on and on. But travel usually forces you out of your comfort zone. Especially if you want to make the most of it. And it’s okay. Going out of your comfort zone helps you to grow as a person and again, it can give you memorable experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise had. 

12.   It’s good for your mental health + makes you happier

My favorite. I found in traveling every month for a year that traveling does make you happier! Taking the time to give yourself a break for the hustle and bustle of everyday life can do wonders for your mental health! Travel doesn’t need to be stressful and can be as relaxing or as busy as you make it out to be. I’ve found by taking time each month to get away, even for a weekend, I’m able to concentrate on my work better. 

 This year my travels took me to: the Bahamas, Arizona, Moab (UT), Las Vegas, Vernal and Capitol Reef (UT), Idaho, Cedar City (UT), Lake Powell (UT), Paris, Zions (UT), Midway (UT), and California 

So if you’re wondering, should I take that trip or not? The answer is yes. Do it! Travelling is worth every penny you spend. Make it a goal to travel somewhere new this next year. 

What have you learned from traveling? Share in the comments below. 


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