3 min read

The Next Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad

map of places I've traveled

Yesterday I wrote a post about The Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad. In all honesty, the post was "The Ten Things..." but I typed so much, no one was going to read such a long Blog post.  So I cut it in half.  Here are the other five:

35 mm color slides

6. It's Impossible To Travel Alone
I'm not good around a lot of people.  I'm very shy and I have to work hard to be chatty with strangers.  But what I discovered quickly is that whether or not the person you sit next to on the plane chats you up or someone in a bar in Madrid sits down next to you and starts talking…you're meeting people. Taxi drivers love to practice their English and someone in the hotel bar has always missed their flight. The police officer giving you directions will usually ask where in the States you're from. You cannot travel alone, even if you try. Don't fight it. Listen and learn. Enjoy the random acts of good directions or the discussion of politics. Some of my fondest travel memories involve total strangers.

7. It's Impossible To Make People At Home Understand
In my early days of travel, I took hundreds of photos. Back in those days they were "slides" and basically they consisted of film set between a small frame of cardboard. You put them in Kodak slide trays of 80 to 120 and started showing them in a darkened room. My family really could have cared less…they had never traveled anywhere to speak of. And people who had traveled somewhere had not traveled where I had been and they just didn't get all the little innuendos in my photos. When I tried to talk to them about people I met, meals I had eaten and artifacts in museums…all of that fell on well-meaning, but disinterested ears and minds.

Entire chapters are written for returning students…a basic cause of reentry culture shock or reverse culture shock as we call it in our profession.  The University of Iowa has a great article about Reverse Culture Shock.

How can you cope if you are back from doing something that changed and shaped your life and the feeling is that no one really gets it?

What works for me is that I take photos and videos and document my travels really well. You will find a few of my travel journals on our Community Pages.  A couple over on Everlater.  Some here at my home.

Then I turn them into a book at the Apple Store or some other place and use travel quotes to set off the photos from my daily journal. Someone is going to pick up that book at your house or read online and start enjoying all those interesting travel quotes and then start asking some questions. because using quotes draws people in, and once you hook them and they become vested...you will attract a lot more interest in your travels.

8. Knowing The Purpose Of Your Journey Brings Great Results
When the intentions of your trip are supported by a "why" that has meaning, you will find a way to bring them to life on your travels. Making the most of our journey is a matter of continuing to remember why you have chose to do this trip in the first place.

One of the best things about working at GeoVisions is listening to everything people want to accomplish on their GeoVisions program.

In the end focused and persistent effort along the way will help you enjoy a successful trip. When your travel efforts are driven by your purpose, you can keep enjoying exciting trips for a lifetime.

9. A Positive Vision Makes A Big Difference
One of our most read posts is "Think Traveling Or Volunteering Abroad Is Too Expensive? Think Again."  Our Social Media Manager, Alexandra, wrote that post.

If you envision a trip as achievable, it will be. Envision yourself packing, buying your plane ticket and arriving at your destination. Hold that image firmly in your mind and each step will be in this direction. If I want something badly enough, I tack a picture of it above my desk so I see it everyday, all day.

If you choose crowd funding, this positive vision makes your online profile believable, and you'll attract bigger donations.  Knowing you are going to do this project gets you half way there.

map of places I've traveled10. Your Journey Is Ultimately What You Make Of It
There is no such thing as a perfect trip. What does exist is a continuous series of imperfect travel moments filled with infinite possibilities and opportunities for you to interpret them and do with them as you please. What you don't accomplish on this trip can be accomplished on the next one.

You can pave the road you travel with frustration that you "didn't do it all" or "I am not finished." Either way you are going to arrive at the same destination. The only question is, do you want to arrive there with a frown or a smile?


So here, then, are the Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Decided To Travel Abroad. I hope breaking the post into two didn't confuse anyone.

Last week I showed some of our staff my scrapbook of my first trip abroad.  1976.  They were amazed that I had kept the itinerary, photos, and even currency in that old scrapbook these past almost 37 years.  I keep it because it reminds me of what got me to today, and why today is so important and why each trip is something to share.

I'd love to read your comments and ideas about things you wish you knew before you made your first trip abroad.  We have space below if you feel up to sharing.

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