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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director

There are options out there we never knew about.
Take the American couple who was traveling in France. They discovered that all of Europe is connected by a canal system, and lots of people lived on boats. Voila! They bought a barge and spent a decade cruising throughout Europe.

Time is treated differently.
In the U.S., we talk about “spending time.” And “saving time.” We’re always rushed and multitasking and expecting things to be open around the clock. But it’s not like this everywhere. In Italy, for example, they appreciate a slower, more thoughtful pace and value time in a very different way. In fact, their expression regarding this is passare il tempo. To pass the time, not spend it like a commodity.

We have to rely on people.
Even if you’re the kind of person who wouldn’t ask for a sip of water in the middle of a desert, when you travel, you’re going to need help. When you get lost, can’t figure out where a bus is going or where a bathroom is, you’ll be forced to come out of your shell. And you’ll want to share the same kindness you received during your travels with other people in need when you return home.

Very little is communicated with language.
The first time you discover that you can really like someone, or despise them, or even fall in love with them, even though you don’t speak the same language, is truly mind-blowing. This revelation teaches us that the qualities we exude, not the words we utter, are what’s really important.

We get to be kids again.
Remember when you were little, trying to piece things together, and making wild leaps of logic with precious little information? You’ll experience that again when you travel. Signs and menus won’t make sense. The stuff in the grocery store will be baffling. Figuring out the rules will be confusing. At times, it will be frustrating, but you’ll also be seeing things through entirely fresh eyes.

We are ambassadors.
There will probably be times in your travels when you are the only (insert your nationality here) that someone has ever met. You are the sole representative of your country, and it’s on you to make a great impression. There will likely be other times when the people you meet have encountered plenty of (insert your nationality here) and impressions weren’t always favorable. You’ll have the opportunity to even things up by being a respectful, considerate guest of their country.

Our way isn’t the only way. Or even the best way.
When we travel, we get to see how people around the world choose, or are compelled, to live. Where their priorities lie. How they view work, family, education, the environment, friendship, food, possessions and many other things. And how this compares to our experiences at home. Understanding that there isn’t just one way to do things opens our minds up to a whole world of possibilities.

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