When you travel, it is important to keep an open mind. You’ll be presented with new cultures, new places, new languages, new customs, new food, new people. It is important to be receptive of these new things and willing to get out of your comfort zone to try new things and accept new ideas.
To travel is to be surrounded by the unfamiliar, and it is important to keep an open mind to experience and embrace these new and unfamiliar things you are going to see.
The unknown can be a scary thing. Sometimes we will be presented with things we don’t always understand or maybe even agree with. Still, when you are in somebody else’s home it is important to respect their rules and customs.
If you are traveling in the Middle East, for instance, you’re not going to want to strut around in shorts and a crop top. You may not feel that dressing modestly is an important thing to do, but when you are in their home, the respectful thing to do is to follow their rules.
I’ve seen people in my travels time and time again who kept their guard up and refused to fully immerse themselves in the culture at large. We all know the type: the loud man who is demanding to see the manager because “this isn’t how a cheeseburger is supposed to be made!”
Look. I’ve had my share of experiences abroad that I didn’t enjoy. Being an American, I’m used to being able to strut into any establishment in town and use their restroom for free, for instance. Of course, in Europe I quickly learned to carry change with me because, the horror, I had to pay to pee! Did I complain and demand to be able to pee for free, though? Of course not! I just sighed, accepted that things are the way they are, and gathered together all my spare change to give to the attendant.
When you go abroad, things aren’t going to be the way they are at home. There will be some things that are familiar and comfortable, and some things that are new. It’s the whole reason we travel, really. If the whole world was exactly the same, what would be the point of going anywhere? If there weren’t different languages, different cultures, different sights, different environments, why go anywhere?
One travel experience that I recall with dismaying clarity is the time I was in Florence, Italy. I was so happy to be in Italy with my husband and we decided to go to a charming little restaurant for dinner that night. We sat down, ordered our food, and started enjoying our delicious pasta. We enjoyed it, that is, until two men sat down at the table next to us and started talking loudly to one another…
“Yeah, Bro. Did you see that chick? Dude! She was SO hot! Bro. Yeah, so…like, the freeway in L.A…”
All I could think was UGH, did I really fly halfway across the world to hear California bros talk about chicks and the freeway? Ugh.
When I travel, I like to get lost in the place and the culture. I like to sit quietly and enjoy just being immersed in my surroundings.
What I like so much about it is that you really learn about a place when you stop to listen and take it all in. And there’s something priceless about that.