What Travel Has Taught Me: 5 Lessons I’ve Learned on the Road

August 3, 2018

A couple enjoys dinner on the Rhine River in Strasbourg, France.

Travel was part of my raising, adventure is in my blood and exploration is #1 in our family manifesto. I could write a book just on little lessons learned while traveling. Actually, I plan to. Here are five things I’ve learned catching flights, ducking down side streets, getting off the beaten path and treating every space as if I were studying abroad in another culture no matter where I am.

Lessons Learned on the Road

—Remember that tiny details matter, even when you miss the big ones. This is one that Morocco taught me, and it fits in the palm of my hand. Nail clippers,  chapstick, a toothbrush, clean undies, a the tiniest face wash/moisturizer kit. You might say these are my creature comforts. Maybe you’re right. But in a country/culture/village where you may start out in one place and sleep somewhere else–for days—these lil’ bitties go a long way. I once lost my luggage from Palestine —> France —> Morocco, but I had my littles and didn’t worry ‘bout a thing. Not even my clothes. So, find your few, palm-of-your-hand tiny details that will take you ‘round the world.

Off the beaten path in Paris, you may find yourself in a hidden garden bar drinking the best rose on a lovely spring day.

—Go with the flow. It really is all about the journey, not the destination. The destination is like a checkmark, but you would’ve never gotten there without the lessons in between. The journey experience is where we grow and expand in heart and soul, mind and body. Sure, the destination gives you an aim, but it’s all about how you get there. There have been many a trip where Thomas and I may or may not have some loose “plan,” with the idea that we’ll leave space for play and just figure it out when we get there. Sometimes it works magnificently. Sometimes, not so much. Every time it’s a lesson and a memory for which we’re grateful.

Poppies grow wild from the walls in French Provencal towns.

—Know when to fold ‘em. In January 2017, Thomas and I backpacked through the Torres del Paine in Patagonia, Chile. It was then that I started asking my favorite go-to question, “What are our core family values?” Obviously, the answers are pretty much the same, but it sparks those trail memories and ignites a the cutest little eye roll from my patient man. For some reason, we had the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler,” on repeat in our heads.

“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.”

Since then, I’m STILL learning about amending the plan—embracing that it’s not a failure, it’s part of going with the flow and knowing when you just need to adjust the course.

Street art found in an alley in Strasbourg, France.

—Do the local stuff. Know some words, try them out. Does the culture appreciate haggling in shops? Try it! (Pro tip: you should ALWAYS haggle in Morocco—it’s a respected, expected and appreciated part of the culture!) Stay with locals. Book an Airbnb or a similar local service. Try an Airbnb Experience. Explore, don’t just “adventure.” You can copy anyone’s adventures and snag that picture you’ve seen before. Or you can be curious and go your own way. Find something new, different. Get lost and learn something along the way.

Eleanora leads her cruiser bike home from her neighborhood market on a rainy Sunday morning in April in Paris.

—Get out. Go hike. Our trip to France this spring was the first time we didn’t plan to backpack or hike during an adventure. Boy, did we miss it. Even though we live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and get to romp around them any day we want, we realized that mountains and outdoor activities are what soothes our souls no matter where we go. It’s how we reset, re-center and enjoy time together deeply. And we want to be in allll the mountains that we see. Nature is different and amazing, no matter where you are and THAT is also part of the experience of the place. We think the Rockies are world class, but there’s no substitute for exploring the outdoors everywhere you roam.

The Verdon Gorge is a magnificent canyon in southeastern France. It's a sight well worth the winding, narrow roads away from all major civilization.

Here are a few more images from our latest trip to France (Spring 2018):

We loved the way that light and rain danced off the windows of this lovely Paris apartment.
Paris is full of beautiful views.
Locals abound in the late afternoon at this secret gem of a park on the outskirts of Paris.
Vins, bieres and gnomes make an appearance at this lovely hidden garden bar in Paris.
Paris locals gather at a hidden garden bar tucked inside a massive green space in a northern arrondisement.
Off the beaten path in Paris is a huge park frequented only by locals. Tucked away in that park was this vintage photo booth, just outside the most delightful garden bar.
Rose and film strips are the way to a birthday girls heart in Paris.

Paris is full of surprises, like this beautiful English coffee shop in one of it's artsy neighborhoods on a quiet street.
Thomas makes his way to the pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, France.
Visitors orient themselves in the hallways of the Louvre. Paris, France.
A stormy sunset illuminates the Sacre Coeur in Montmarte, Paris, France.
Sunlight paints the skies and the Sacre Coeur in Montmarte.
Well-kept vintage cars abound in the unlikeliest corners of Paris, even at the top of the escalator at Montmarte.
An old French car speeds down an alley of Montmarte.
A woman prepares delicious crepe-style snacks in the Provencal market in Antibes.
A pigeon takes flight on an alley behind this vintage motor bike in Loumarin, Provence.
The French Provencal village of Lourmarin emanates beautiful old world luxe vibes.
The French Provencal village of Lourmarin emanates beautiful old world luxe vibes.
Quiet scenes like this one are easily found in the winding streets of the French Provencal village of Lourmarin.
Quiet scenes like this one are easily found in the winding streets of the French Provencal village of Lourmarin.
Sunlight provides space for vines to grow at the end of an alley tunnel in Lourmarin, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
Much life and character is represented in these still French doorways.
Ancient little towns dot the hilltops surrounding Provence in France.
Perhaps one of the best parts of France is the doorways lining the streets of every quaint town and city.
A solitary swan floats near the shore of Lac Leman in Switzerland.A wacky tree found in a park on Lac Leman in Switzerland.
A solitary soul enjoys a book on the Rhine at sunset in France.
People sit atop a covered bridge at sunset on the Rhine River in Strasbourg, France.
In a very "Pretty Woman"-esque moment, the girl in the polka dots was whisked away on a Vespa in Strasbourg, France.

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