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How travel has changed me: part 1

I was talking to this guy, his name is Spud Hilton. He used to work for the San Francisco Chronicle. And he and I have been having a couple talks the past couple of days and he's given me a lot of ideas about travel. And since he's a travel writer, and there's one talk we did the other day. The title of the talk was “how travel changed my life”.

And I wanted to touch on some of the experiences I've had, that has changed my life because I've traveled and because I’ve left my homeland, my home country to go and live in Florence. So as I tell you my story of how travel has changed me, I'd like you to think about what has changed for you when you travel.

Maybe think about those things like or maybe you haven't traveled yet or you are thinking ‘damn, like I want to I want to travel I want to see the world through different eyes’ and that's usually when I talk to people that haven't traveled maybe younger people in their 20s that I remember feeling like at 20 or 21 years old. Like how invincible I was to travel. So I encourage you, I implore you, I use that word a lot when I talk about travel. If it's not to study abroad, you take a sabbatical, or a year off after you graduate from college, just travel. There's a lot of jobs where 20 year olds can make ends meet by writing blog posts, or doing videos on Youtube. It's a lot more high-tech than when I was first living in Florence.

So here is my “The more you know” moment: travel changes your life. Travel opens your eyes. Travel gives you a different perspective even on how your home country depicts other countries and their way we react to other nationalities as a whole.

Anyway, how has travel changed me?

Well. I’ve talked a lot about how travel has changed me and how the experiences I've had on my own, traveling alone as a woman and finding my way through the Italian bureaucracy is incredibly confusing. At times. Thank God for friends. It showed me at least this one particular aspect of traveling and living abroad, more so living abroad. I'm going to focus on living abroad for a second.

When you put your mind to something, for example moving abroad, and you take the right steps. Everything happens correctly and the way it should. You find out where you want to be. You’ll embrace the mistakes and celebrate the victories of finding your way through a new city, a new country and a new culture.

Another thing that ties into choosing your path through travel is the idea of happiness. When I thought about moving to Florence, I thought it would guarantee happiness, that's it. I thought I was going to be incredibly happy. Not every day I was happy, but every day I was incredibly grateful. I was in the city that I had strived to live in and make a living in for over nine years before that. It took me nine years to really find my way and make the move. And it was the best feeling because I did it on my own. I had it in my mind to take the risk and to use all my credit cards as much as possible. And pay off my credit cards and when I came back after three months stints, as a nanny, then as a travel writer.

The first time I went to live in Florence was in 2005. It was to learn Italian so I didn't make any money. I just spent all my money. So I think there's something to be said about just in general putting your mind to what your passion is. And following through on your dream. Another passion that a lot of people have is to travel. Maybe it's not just to one place. Maybe it's to a bunch of countries that you have on your bucket list. I say do it.

Because once you find a way to do it, you can do all the other things that you always wanted to do. Honestly, it works out in the end, it really does. I'm not giving you false hopes because it's possible. I did it with a lot of naysayers around me. It's possible.

How has travel changed my life? I think travel changed the way I interact with people. When I moved back permanently outside of Chicago with my now husband I realized how much and how often I wasn't being seen or heard by my family, my siblings, strangers, co-workers. I felt that the internet and the smartphone movement really took a toll on my family and on the people I love. I realized when we moved over in 2013 Stefano would say to me, ‘why is everybody on their phones’. We got our first smartphone, iPhone 4s in 2012. We weren't on our phones when we would go out to dinner with our friends. We would put our phones away.

When I interact with people now, I make it a point to keep my phone in my purse. I try to connect with the person in front of me. And ask them what they're about. Ask them their story. I missed that.

Remember, I started traveling when there were no cell phones. If there were cell phones, it was the cell phone where I would have to get a different SIM card when I got to Italy and use a different phone. And now we have just like these unlimited packages where you are constantly connected. Rightly so, it’s worth it. Especially for GPS purposes. So yeah, travel has changed the way I interact with people, and how I want to learn about people and their stories. And that's what I definitely did.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow...


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