Why Travel Makes You Awesome

be awesome by traveling the worldPeople always ask how travel has changed me. If I look back at who I was before I began traveling and compare that to who I am now, I would have to say that travel has made me a better and more well-rounded person. I’m way cooler now than I was at twenty five when I first left to explore the world.

Simply put, I’m a lot more awesome now than I used to be.

In fact, I think travel makes everybody a more awesome person. We end our travels way better off than when we started. I’m not saying this to be conceited or egotistical; I’m saying it because I believe that travel is something that makes you not only a better human being, but a way cooler one too. The kind of person people gravitate towards and want to be around.

You become like the Dos Equis guy.

How and why does travel make you more awesome? Let me count the ways:

More social – It’s sink or swim on the road. You either get better at making friends or you end up alone, crying each night into a pillow. You learn to make friends out of strangers and get more comfortable talking to new people. When I first started traveling, I was kind of an introvert and uncomfortable talking to those I didn’t know. Now, I’ll happily talk to strangers like we’ve been best friends for years.

Better at conversation – Travel not only makes you comfortable talking to strangers, it makes you better at it too. After talking to people all the time, the same questions get boring. You start to even bore yourself. After a while, you don’t care about where people are from, where they are going, how long they’ve been traveling, and yada yada yada. Those kinds of questions don’t actually tell you anything about the person. You’ll get better at small talk and how to ask interesting questions – the ones that matter and tell you more about the person.

More confident – You’ve traveled the world. Hiked Mt. Everest. Dived the Great Barrier Reef. Wined and dined that beautiful French girl in Paris, navigated unknown cities, and conquered your fear of heights. In short, you did awesome things. How can you not be more confident? How can you not be sure about your abilities? After accomplishing so much, you’re going to feel a lot more confident in your ability to achieve anything you set your mind to.

keep calm and stay awesomeMore adaptable – You’ve dealt with missed flights, slow buses, wrong turns, delays, bad street food, and much, much more. After a while, you learn how to adapt your plans to changing situations. You don’t get mad, you don’t get angry, you just alter what you are doing and move on. Life throws you curve balls and you hit them out of the park. Why? Because you’re awesome like that.

More adventurous – When you become confident in your ability to do anything, you do anything. Last week in Austin, Texas, despite not liking spicy food, I ate the world’s hottest pepper and some pure capsicum extract. Why? Because I wanted to. What’s the purpose of life if not to break out of your comfort zone? My mouth was on fire for ages but I’d do it again.

More easy-going – All those mistakes? They did something else for you, too. They made you more easy-going and relaxed. Why? Because you’ve dealt with all those errors and you don’t care. You go with the flow now, because if travel taught you anything it is that it all works out in the end and that there’s no need to stress.

Sexier – Stress causes aging. Those carefree, relaxing days on the road are going to make you more confident, radiant, and age slower. You’ll look young and sexy. Unless you are George Clooney, who definitely got better with age.

Smarter – Unless you sit at a resort drowning your brain in frozen drinks, travel will teach you about the world. You’ll learn about people, history, and culture, and arcane facts about places some people could only dream about. In short, you’ll have a better understanding about how it works and how people behave. That’s something that can’t be learned from books; you can only pick it up with on the road experience.

Less materialistic – On the road, you learn just how little stuff you actually need. You’ll realize that all that crap they sell at the mall is pretty useless in leading a truly happy life. Coming home, you’ll find yourself a minimalist simply because you realize what you need to live and what you don’t. As they say, the more you own, the more it owns you.

Happier – Travel simply teaches you how to be happy. You’ll become more relaxed, more confident, and see the world as a brighter place. How can you not be happy about life after all of that?

Think about all the famous, successful people in the world. How many of these qualities do those people exhibit? A lot. Why? Because being outgoing, funny, social, happy, confident, and smart are all qualities that make people more successful in everyday life.

Travel makes people better people. When you learn more about the world and the people in it, push your boundaries, and try new things, you become a more open, outgoing, and awesome person. All the people I’ve known who have traveled are better people ’cause of it. With all the ways a trip can make you more of an awesome person, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be planning your next adventure now – whether it’s around the world or just a short two-week vacation to Mexico.

You can sit at home, wishing you were somewhere exotic, having fun, and doing something cool.

Or you can listen to Kid President, stop being boring, and do something awesome:

The choice is yours.

Want some more inspiration? Check out these must-read posts:

  1. Agreed! I’m sort of a high-stress, quick to worry, and always prepared person and the more I travel the more adaptable I become and all that other stuff just starts to melt away. There’s something really freeing about traveling, being increadibly happy, and not letting the little things get you down.

    • It’s so true!… i had traveled to Mexico, Canada, and Europe before the age of 35 and thought of myself as ‘wordly’. When I traveled to Asia for the first time at 34, I realized I had never really been anywhere out of my comfort zone. It was a huge shock, a scary adventure, and broke down so many barriers and stupid ideas I had about people, cultures etc. I sold all my stuff in 2006 and have been ‘location independent’ ever since. I have a passion for exploring the inner terrain through meditation so I still spend most of my time traveling back and forth to India, but i vary my route to experience different things along my way. I wouldn’t give up my life now for ANYTHING! I love the freedom of belonging to the world.

  2. I can attest the truth of these points… because I’ve also traveled far and wide in the last few years. Among my own realizations:

    * Being social on the road pays off, even if I still don’t have it as easy as you do (being introduced by friends helps a LOT, though)
    * Overcoming the fear of the unknown and rather embrace and conquer it.
    * Get to know the world as it really is, not as others tell you it is like.
    * Realize you actually need few possessions to get by in life. I now think twice about buying something that can’t go with me on the road. In fact I’d rather be having a garage sale.
    * I think I haven’t been through enough travel mishaps, though. (knock on wood!). But on the few times I’ve had one like a date change or a connection delay, I had to put up and find out how to solve it. That not only creates character but also helps build confidence.
    * Get to know your own true self.
    * And perhaps best of all: Have enough stories to tell and pictures to show. :)

  3. So true, all of these. I think travel has really helped me be more confident about approaching other people and taking chances that I may not have otherwise taken. It’s definitely helped me embrace who I am and what I’m passionate about!

  4. Hannah

    I couldn’t agree with this post any more, I got back to the UK two weeks ago from 2+ years away in Asia & Australia. I had the time of my life & already planning my next few years away. Everyone is commenting on how different I look, all I’ve done is coloured my hair…
    Just yesterday i was saying to my travel partner, that who seriously needs the 10 pairs of jeans & piles & piles of tops that I have come home to. Charity shop here I come…

  5. I agree with all of your points! I’ve taken a year hiatus from traveling, and I’m honestly finding it’s taking a hit to my confidence and making me less adaptable than I used to be.

    Thanks for reminding me that I need to get back on the road :)

  6. Incredibly excellent post, Matt.

    Having met you, it’s hard to imagine that you were ever introverted and uncomfortable around strangers.

    What have years of travel done for me? Well, you should have known me before!

  7. This is an excellent post! It inspires me to be a better person, travel more NOW, and be more awesome! I truly cannot wait to leave my job and go live abroad while teaching in Spain. At this point Im not sure where I’m headed in life and that’s ok with me as I know I will end up somewhere better than a dull cubicle with a good salary. Thank you!

  8. What a great post Matt. I’m “bookmarking it” and keeping it as a reminder. We took a 5-month trip to India with my family, and my kids now 7 and 10 are already asking where are we going next… it’s a beautiful experience that no book can bring. Thank you for the reminder, and for the motivation to keep saving for another trip, and to be “more awesome” some day soon.

  9. I agree in a lot of ways – travel has made me more fearless and helped me realize what’s important in life. At the same time, I tend to lose it when I’m back in a fixed place (like I am now in Melbourne) and in a Western country. I wonder if the perspective change is something that everyone can hold onto – namely, me!

  10. The most important thing that travel has taught me is how to enjoy the moment. It’s something that I often lose sight of in the humdrum of daily life. Travel distils what is important in life.
    On a more political note it helps you see through the crap the media drills into us about refuges and see that people everywhere are just ‘people’ who want their kids to grow up happy and healthy and live a safe and productive life. Yep there’s an election coming up in Australia this year!

  11. All sooooo true. No more than the last two in my humble opinion….

    I find myself caring less & less about stuff (until it comes to motorcycles… there, I am as weak as 12/yr old meeting bieber)

    Stuff just comes down to props for perception…. and I think travelers already understand that who someone is or who they are themselves is way more interesting.

  12. Definitely agree with all of these points! One big one I would add is compassion. I think many of us lucky to come from developed, well-off countries don’t realize how hard some people in the world have it, or we know but just don’t really care. When you meet people from these countries when you travel, you really see just how much is happening outside of your own little world. I think it makes us all more likely to start caring a little more about people in difficult circumstances around the world and maybe (even better!) start doing something about it.

  13. I like that quote “the more you own the more it owns you.” I think backpacking highlights this more. I hate carrying stuff, or buying anything they will make me check in my bag.
    I was reading somewhere about the idea that you will be happier with the thing that lasts longer. But, research shows that the same never applies to traveling because the memory of a visit somewhere lasts way longer than any material thing. I guess the question is, how much would you value the memory?

  14. Agree with all of these, especially with the sociable and better conversationalists part. I was a really shy person before I started traveling, when I had no choice but to talk to complete strangers about stuff much more involving than the weather or where I was from. I also believe that traveling makes us much more aware of our surroundings- we become considerate of the people around us (even if they are complete strangers).
    Love this post!

  15. I haven’t traveled as much as others have but so far, I have noticed I became less materialistic and more practical. I used to buy something that looks more stylish than practical, now its the other way around I prefer the ones that are much practical.

  16. Ben

    Love Kid President, great pep talk!

    I just gave my notice at my job, leaving at the end of next month after 10 years of working in low paid hospitality jobs and very little travelling. I plan to build a website with a blog and just start travelling. I have a small budget so I have no idea how long I can keep going for or how it’s going to go but figure I can wing it.

    Just want to say its blogs like yours showing me it’s possible that stop me from talking myself out of it and for that I thank you.

  17. All of these are so true! It really pushes you out of your comfort zone, makes you take risks, try new things, new foods, new languages. Gives you some perspective on things and not be so insular.

  18. I totally agree ! I love pushing past my comfort zone. I’m currently traveling with my two kids (the youngest, 5, has a broken leg). As much as there are moments during the day when I wonder what I was thinking, for the most part, it beats the heck out of staying home. We’re all happier when we are going somewhere and seeing/learning something new.

  19. What a great reflection on your experiences and how you’ve developed and matured with travel. It certainly does teach you to adapt and go with the circumstances.

    I love your well thought out article.

  20. Yup, I agree and I feel pretty awesome right now 😉
    Good sum-up of true stories and another post to send out to all the people who are still unsure if they should and if, when and…

    There are plenty good reasons to travel – one of the best are the people out there!

  21. In the game of life, you’re #winning. (‘awesome’ is a bit over-used these days, so lets use the Charlie-Sheen term ‘#winning’).

    I agree with all you say about travel, I’ve never been happier than when I’ve been travelling. For those who love novelty and new experiences, becoming a nomad is definitely the way to go, and the zen-style minimalism is definitely appealing also.

    Sadly, most people simply don’t get the opportunity to travel for long periods, so you are very lucky to be able to do so. Traveling takes money , and yes, I know you say you *can* do it cheaply, but the reality is that even $50/day location-independent income is a tough hurdle for most people to cross. I’ve never been able to do anywhere the amount of travel I liked, because I’ve never been able to solve the rubik’s-cube of location-independent income.

    The times that I’ve been able to travel for months on end were the times I got very lucky. So always bear in mind the role luck played, and thank your lucky stars for the life you’ve led.

    You’re #winning Matt. Keep #winning

    • Everyone’s circumstances are different, and it can be especially hard to save if you have family or health issues. But I think that if you’re independent and willing to make more than a few sacrifices, you can definitely save up enough to travel for at least a few months. Maybe not in Europe, but somewhere. Of course, then it can become a cycle of save, spend, save, spend, all over again. But we do have the power to make our own luck and be winners!

  22. Leigh

    Inspirational! I am heading off on long term travel in only a few months now and this is just what I needed to read!

  23. So true. I grew up in a small town in TX where people just don’t leave. The first time I left the country you’d of thought someone died. Several years later when I went to Russia alone it was the same thing; hand wringing. Traveling changes you. It changes the world you see and live in. It most definitely makes you more awesome.

  24. Nadya Toha

    I’ve always believe that travelling will make me more confident, being better at conversations and the highlighted points you mentioned.

    Have always been this person who doesn’t dare to take risk. Have been doing small travelling quarterly as much as I can ever since I’ve started working about 3 years ago. I want to keep reading your blog in hoping I can take the risk I’ve always wanted to make.

    Keep writing mate, you’ve kept me going by stepping small stones all these while! 😉

  25. Travel brings you lot of knowledge, and with knowledge comes confidence and attitude! I may not be traveler my self but i respect those who do lot of traveling.

  26. Marilynn

    Even planning your next trip opens your mind and makes you both freer and happier. After a difficult year dealing with the death of my spouse I decided to book a trip for 2 months to Europe. I used to wake up in the morning thinking of him. Now I wake up dreaming of my future travel. I won’t share traditional pictures because I won’t take a camera. One thing I learned no my first European trip was, my sketchs and watercolors spoke more than any my photos, they meant more. You learn what is important and what is not fast. It puts life and people in perspective. People get along, governments fight.

    • I agree completely! When my mom died, I didn’t think that there was any good left in the world. It took me a few months to start planning a trip, but when I did, just imagining all of the possibilities made me realize how awesome the world still is. Having suffered has made me more compassionate towards other cultures, and my life feels more awesome than ever!

  27. Great shout with Kid President – he is such a dude! But you also put it well yourself, don’t think anyone (though try they might) could argue that travelling is anything but awesome with all the points you put forward. Unless, you don’t want to be smarter, happier, sexier etc.

  28. I think there is one thing that you had not mentioned that really drives it home for me. Travel makes you humble (though ppl may accidentally come off as arrogant / excited to share everything at the same time).

    It teaches you that the world is bigger than you are, that people’s problems are the same no matter where you go (or even worse in some). Travel teaches you to appreciate the little things you have and the things you never realized you did.

    Like you mentioned, travel opens up your eyes and your world, but for me, more than anything else, travel opens up your heart.

    Good reminders on how travel adds value to your life =)

  29. Vee

    You know, I find that when I travel (especially alone), I’m at peace. I never worried about the daily stress, for my mind is too occupied with soaking in new images, information, and culture. I can’t wait to feel awesome (and share my awesome self) with the world when I travel this summer! :) There, I used awesome twice..

  30. I’ve been nomadic for the last two years and recently my parents flew out to visit me in Australia. They commented on how much more at ease I was with everyday tasks, nothing seems to phase me anymore. I no longer worry about mundane issues that used to stress me out. I’m more confident in the company of those I don’t know and feel I can hold my own in situations that stretch my comfort zone. All thanks to my experience of travel.

  31. EXACTLY. Grabbing a flight to a country where you don’t speak the language and don’t know the exchange rate…then landing and realizing you have no idea how to get to your hostel (what was it called again?). No problem.

  32. This is all so true!! I have always thought the same thing about travel. It makes me sad when people fail to see the benefits of traveling and I am so glad my parents started me young, giving me the travel bug from very early on :)

  33. That’s all so true, but the only problem is you don’t know about all of these benefits, until you start your traveling. And when i went abroad for the first time and thought: “Why did i spent almost all my life in one city?”

  34. Absolutely love this. It’s all so true and I agree it makes you a better, all-round confident person. I definitely feel more awesome after travelling the world solo. Great read!

  35. Elle of Solo Female Nomad

    Yes! Agree with them all; although the point I agree most with is how traveling has made me less materialistic. It has shown me how little I really need in every day life and during my travels!

  36. It’s sad that so many people wait so long to find out how incredibly awesome it makes you feel to travel the word and experience so many things about themselves they never thought they could do. Travel does indeed make me happier. Thanks for the great post!

  37. I love this post, but the end bit made me a bit sad: “You can sit at home, wishing you were somewhere exotic, having fun, and doing something cool. Or you can listen to Kid President, stop being boring, and do something awesome”

    As someone is not a full-time traveller, I have to wait for my trips and right now am waiting (only for a week but nevertheless…). I want to go away again!!

  38. Agree!

    Before I went travelling I worried way too much, planned everything and was never really relaxed. Now I just bought a bicycle and spontaniously decided to ride to China from Bangkok, without having any idea how to get there- or how to fix a broken bike.

    I’m so much happier now, and I’m sure it’s because I’ve been travelling for quite a long time now. I love speaking to strangers and make super cool friends all the time. Leaving home a year ago was probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

    Great post :)

  39. Dude this is a epic blog post, well done.

    As a traveler you see new things, eat new foods, meet new people, participate in new activities and are constantly doing all these awesome new things. Whilst you are doing all these awesome new things it’s with awesome new people. And with these awesome new people you meet you share your awesome new stories and get awesome new ideas to go on more awesome new adventures and with that how could you not be awesome when you are surrounded and involved in so much awesomeness, its AWESOME!

    To travel is to truly live

  40. Lienke Nijboer

    You have found the right words to spread your message. Perfection of life is: being inspired by the world, so you can inspire others. Pura Vida!

  41. I definitely agree with all of the above awesomeness.

    I’d like to add another.

    I’ve found I have more trust & curiosity of strangers / new people. I have become a CouchSurfer & hostel user in recent years, & people at home are shocked. They have complete fear of things I’ve done, & continue to do, that have brought me some of my most amazing experiences – simply because I trusted others.

    Also, I’ve encountered unbelievable generosity & kindness from strangers. People at home cannot fathom why people would be so kind to a stranger. It saddens me a bit.

  42. Jared

    What a wonderful article. Thank you for reminding me of all of these things and articulating so well the benefits of travel!

  43. This is the fact that a lot of people are around the world who devoted their live to travelling and the guys who are only dedicated to travelling are happier than all other. Secondly I am a bit surprised how much times this blog post is shared on social media platforms. Hats off to your blogging style and the way you write.

  44. Right! So many reasons can be pointed out by a traveler in order to love traveling . The most important point which you have mentioned here at the last – “Happier”. Travelling by this reason absolutely favorable.

  45. I’ve been traveling the world nonstop for almost 2 years now, in part thanks to you Matt & posts like this! While I believe travel is good for everyone, it’s especially helpful to introverts & has helped me to be more adaptable & confident. Thank you for inspiring me to take a career break that changed my whole life!

  46. well said! i think you nailed it. the world could be a much nicer place if everyone had this mentality and traveled. i would know because i’ve changed for the better because of my travel experience.

  47. Matt! Please please swich places with me or have my babies. Whichever u prefer. I am a new reader to your blog and so far I really love it. I don’t know what made you start writing or traveling but life is so much better now that u have.

    I need to travel like I need to breath. I just cant figure how to make it happen on my 20 year old non exsistant budget.

    Anyway. I love your blog and u so have a new reader, check out mine if u like to listen to crazy girls :) runningblind20.blogspot.com


  48. Very true!

    I used to be quite unconfident in social situations and high stress, since I have been travelling more can tell that I feel more confident all the time and (most of the time) will be more easygoing and react to situations better.

    Travel is better education than any school can teach you!

  49. Osman

    Thanks Matt, stumbled on your blog and so glad I did. Currently doing a three months tour of Europe on my own and learning to much about myself and all the crap I own.
    One week in and I am ready to be AWESOME..

  50. ok.. first of all great post my friend.. i couldn’t agree more especially for the point of smarter! Exploring more cultures is actualy knowledge. And knowledge is power.

    What a great video! It was amazing!
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  51. I love this post! couldn’t agree more. when I travel I feel like I’m smiling more than ever. when I see an amazing landscape I feel like I can breath so deeply and feel so free. when I push myself to do physical activities like climbing mountains or walking until my hole body hurts , it reminds me that everything is possible.(=

  52. Rodney

    It also allows you to celebrate minor accomplishments that don’t amount to anything of meaning in your life. Go you and your Fisher Price culture.

  53. Dan

    I love what you’re doing here Matt – your website was the first one I found one lunchtime at work – and helped inspire me to become a nomad myself.

    Travel is certainly a handy tool for personal development, and you won’t be short of tales to tell when you do decide to have a more permanent base of operations!

    Stay safe Matt, I’ll be sure to bookmark your site and check back often.

    – Dan

  54. True story :) Traveling and getting out of my comfort zone taught me so much. The best benefits for me were that I improved my communication skills, that I realized the world was much bigger and varied than I thought and that I want to travel more and more.

  55. Hey Matt,
    I really appreciate the article that you have written. I travel a lot and maybe I am not that much social with people. I travel and speak less , however your points about happy and less materialistic is true.
    You pulled out a hilarious one by quoting “unless you are George Clooney”..:D

    Great writing and information for the people who are looking forward to a motivation to start travelling..It’s a different world and a real world I must say


  56. I do agree with the fact that travel really broadens your horizons. The decision to travel full time can get quite challenging if you have other hobbies/commitments as well. Not to mention the most important, Moneehh! :) The next best thing is to travel part time which could be the best of both worlds!



  57. Totally agree. For me the best was education and appreciation. You learn so much more when on the road about geography, language, culture etc and also you really appreciate that the rubbish down in the mall doesn’t matter and you are so privileged to be doing it when you look at the millions who are struggling to make ends meet.

  58. I was in need of some inspiration, so I came back to this post. Thank you, Matt. I had a series of unfortunate personal events that led to a delay in my travel plans – my true passion and desire. I guess I just wanted to say thank you for re-inspiring me!

  59. LittleHanoi

    “I’m way cooler now than I was at twenty five when I first left to explore the world.”
    Me too :) I’m cooler now than was at twenty two when i first left to explore the world.

  60. Jacqui Cresswell

    Hi Matt (and everyone), am gaining inspiration through all these comments. I’m single in my mid 50s and will be returning to the UK after over 35 years in Oz, in June this year. I have booked 1 way as I want to travel all over the British Isles and Europe. To say I’m getting scared as the day nears closer is an understatement, and for ever dealing with the naysayers – be careful, single women shouldn’t travel, you dont have enough money etc…. Yes I’m still a bit in awe of what I’m about to undertake but – my tomorrow is just around the corner and I dont want to die wondering – so here I go….

  61. Very true Matt. Travel makes you all of the above and even much more.
    You usually get this feeling of being one with nature and the world.
    Your mind becomes really open and you find yourself easily understanding and loving people of all ages, sexes and races.
    Through experience you become so courageous and confident that you can take on any thing in the world and conquer.
    Then you have lots of interesting experience and photos to share and unintentionally get people green with envy :)

  62. Love this post Matt! All reasons are very true. I have seen first hand the effects that travel has had on the students that I take abroad each year and how they return changed for the better.

  63. Thanks for a great article! I’ve taken a few trips that impacted my life in many ways–giving me experiences I never would have expected (like being tall for the first time in my life!). No matter where I go, though, I always learn something, not only about the places I visit, but also about myself.

  64. Thank you very much for this excellent post!
    I fully agree: traveling makes most people more awesome.
    I have been brought up abroad and only returned to my mother country, Germany, when I was 17.
    At the age of 53 I still travel – and feel better and a lot more relaxed when doing so. Especially when I traveled to Portugal!

  65. I definitely agree with all the points. As I was reading them, I said check, check, and check 😉

    To travel is to live!

    I am very glad I had the opportunity to start going around the globe from an early age and it has helped me become who I am today.

    I hope to keep on doing it for as long as I am alive 😉


  66. Adree

    This makes me think back to laying on the sand at sunset in Dominical, Costa Rica after surfing and feeling complete. It reminds me of the time in New Zealand where I took a local overnight bus to get down to Christchurch. I had the flu and held my lemon and honey concoction tight while slapping the bus driver to stay awake. And the time I solely witnessed the best proposal at the highest waterfall in Croatia. Now, I am planning on my next journey for this year. I find myself hesitant and worried as if I never been anywhere. I need to do it though! Thanks for the read.

  67. So true ! I noticed so many changes that came from travelling! I am now doing my end of study thesis on the effects of long-term travel, it’s such an interesting subject (so thanks for writing about this, I’ll probably use bits of that post for my argumentation if you don’t mind :) )

  68. Tom

    I’m merely 22 and I truly want to be really successful. I want to make tons of money and be acknowledge by people. However, I keep travelling the so called ‘running away’. I don’t want to compromise. I want both – to be successful with lots of money, and to travel and meet people and live free to explore whatever I want.

    I will not compromise. If you own a business and can work through Internet i can do both. I believe travelling will somehow help me succeed to. Who knows, I might just not gonna be able to succeed at both, but that’s who I am and who I will always be.

  69. Bonnie J

    I’m now a 62-year old grandma and retired, still traveling whenever I get the chance (with and without my husband of almost 35 years), and so do my daughters. In 1978, I was a brand new Army lieutenant assigned to the Netherlands, and my adventures began; I was not near any large military bases and I was a single young woman in a very married community. I had a good education, but was more than a little naive; I was a nice Catholic girl from a medium sized midwestern city. I am a natural introvert, but I love art (in retirement I’m a painter!), so the land of Vermeer, Hals, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh was a dream! Loved going to all the galleries and museums. I ended up traveling all over the continent, and later all over North America. I have painted in Provence and Santa Fe. People are amazed, but I love it. Comfort is more important to me now (and we sometimes use hotel points from my husband’s business travel), but I’m still always on the lookout for good deals and how to save a buck or a euro. We usually travel independently or in small groups. Have learned so much during my travels. In my 20s, I learned one night in Amsterdam that I could take care of myself when some toughs followed and harassed me (ducked into the nearest bar, and when they came in, I pointed them out to a police officer). I gained street smarts. My car’s battery went out in a remote village in Germany, and the mechanic and I went back and forth, laughing, using a phrasebook and using our “Deutschlish.” I discussed the presidential primary system with an innkeeper in Arles. Loved bargaining in a Turkish bazaar near Ephesus. In Rome I had a mystical experience in an ancient church. I safely strolled the Champs Elysees in Paris at 1AM with throngs of people, and have stayed in hostels, castles, and farms. My husband and I fell in love in Europe and married in a German castle. Can’t wait to see Asia and also walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain and see my grandmother’s ancestral village in Poland. Gotta stay healthy so I can show my grandsons more of the world!

  70. I love to travel alone and enjoy every moment of it.. Chinese Proverbs dated 5000yrs “Walk Thousands of miles is always better than reading 10 years of script & books”. On the contrary, now the West learn it but the East kept it!

  71. John

    Nice post Matt! I was looking for something like this for a while and planning on writing a similar thing on my blog. Can I get some of your inputs from this article? This is indeed very inspiring! :)

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