How Traveling In My 20s Prepared Me For The Real World In 8 Unexpected Ways

Traveling has my heart. It's going to sound cheesy and probably overrated at this point, but I've completely fallen head over heels for hopping on planes and exploring the world. I just can't get enough of the evergreens in the Pacific Northwest, and the turquoise water of the Mediterranean Sea. I've found that every trip changes you, and realized just how traveling prepared me for the real world in the most unexpected ways. These lessons are so important. Catch a flight and get your passport stamped, so that you can learn them, too.

I don't know exactly what you've heard about "the real world," but I hope you're ready for it. Soon enough, you'll be out of college and creating a life for yourself. It may seem a bit intimidating, but I promise there's a lot of beauty in the unknown. You might feel lost at times, and wonder if you're heading in the right direction.

With every destination and trip, I found my footwork and discovered what truly sparks my soul. Now, I'm pursuing my passions and chasing a life I was meant to live. Somehow, I became more prepared for the real world along the way. Who would've thought that would happen, too?

Navigating Airports Taught Me To Take Life One Step At A Time
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The real world, like an airport, can be confusing at first. You walk through the revolving door, and suddenly, you're in a sea of people who are all in a rush to reach their destinations. They're trying to get through security in record time, find their gate, and somehow get a sandwich before boarding the plane. You feel like you've just walked into Times Square, and are overwhelmed by the long lines and nerves for your trip.

In these moments, I've learned to take everything in life one step at a time. There are going to be a lot of times in the real world when you're stressed. But, breaking the situation down into steps will make it so much more manageable. Take a deep breath and know you're going to get through it, just like you always do.

Flying Around The World Taught Me How To Appreciate Being Alone
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One of my favorite parts of traveling is the plane ride. It's a few hours where you're forced to disconnect, and can refocus your energy back on yourself. I've found that it's so easy to get wrapped up in your daily routine, commitments, and petty things. Being amongst the clouds reminds me what truly matters. Despite the fact that my feet are so far from the ground, I get the chance to center myself and put my priorities back into place.

In the real world, you may lose yourself in the uncertainty. Seeking out "me" time will be necessary to make sure you're living your life for you. Flying around the world taught me to appreciate these moments when I'm alone more than ever, because they bring me back down to Earth.

Going To The Pacific Northwest Taught Me That More Than One Place Can Feel Like Home
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I've been on the East Coast my entire life. I grew up and went to college in Connecticut, and other than four months in Florence, I've always lived here. Before I started traveling, I assumed no other place would feel quite like home. But, four days in the Pacific Northwest completely changed that for me.

Especially after you graduate college, you're trying to find your place in the world. You want to get that apartment in the city with your best friends, or maybe find a cute space along the coast. Wherever you end up, you just want to feel like it's where you're meant to be. I can't quite describe it, but there's something about Portland, Oregon that felt like home to me. Traveling taught me the beauty of finding exactly where you belong.

Getting Lost In Europe Taught Me To Embrace Every Part Of The Adventure
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When you start looking at life as an adventure, it gets a lot more interesting. Take on the challenge, and see what the universe has in store. For me, it took getting lost in a metro station in Europe to learn this lesson.

My best friend and I were running late for our train, and were sprinting down the stairs to the subways. We probably hopped on at least two cars going in the opposite direction, before we finally figured out where we were supposed to go. Long story short: We made it just in time. Since then, I've looked at every moment of feeling lost or confused as the start of an adventure.

Hiking Mountains And Canyons Taught Me To Trust Myself
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Learning to trust yourself is so much easier said than done. You can have a lot of confidence, and still be unsure that you're making the right move. Hiking mountains and canyons all over the world taught me that I'm capable of much more than I give myself credit for.

It took stepping on rocks and leaping into waterfalls for me to realize my own abilities. I don't consider myself to be the most athletic person, but I definitely feel stronger after rock climbing and walking barefoot into caves. In the real world, you have to trust yourself and go with your gut. Whether you're navigating trails in the woods or your career path, you have an inner compass with you at all times. Use it.

Talking To People From Around The World Taught Me The Beauty Of Empathy
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One of my favorite lessons I've learned from traveling is how to be a human being. Let me explain it a bit more. I'm talking about the one thing that connects everyone on this planet, no matter where in the world they may be: emotion.

I've surrounded myself with people who speak different languages and live entirely different lives. They taught me about their food, and told me their unique stories. In those moments, I realized what I believe human connection is all about. It's about being a good listener, expression, and empathy. Those few things will take you so far in the real world.

Going To The Islands Taught Me To Find Happiness In Every Situation
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Leave it to island life to teach you how to be happy. There are going to be times in the real world when everything seems to be going wrong. You'll feel like the grass is truly greener on the other side, and you may even look at the glass half empty instead of half full. During those times, I challenge you to put on your positive pants.

Sure, it's much easier to find happiness when you're relaxing in a hammock by the pool. But, feeling that amazing feeling just once has made me want to find it in every situation that comes my way. More often that not, life doesn't go according to plan. Finding the rays of sunshine among the clouds will always make your days a bit brighter.

Planning The Next Trip Taught Me That Pursuing Your Passions Is Entirely Up To You
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By now, you've probably heard that dreams don't work unless you do. Well, I'm here to tell you that traveling has made that statement so true. When you're following your wanderlust, you may stumble upon your passion in life. That's where the story could stop if you let it.

Truth is, pursuing your passions is entirely up to you. Nobody's going to hand you plane tickets, a laptop, and a bunch of partnerships with brands. If you want to be a travel blogger, you have to put in the time and work to make your dreams a reality. Now, this may not be your fantasy, and that's totally OK. What traveling has taught me about the real world, is that you create the life you want to live. Make sure it's a masterpiece.