It changed my life: travels abroad. We just returned from a four-week foreign adventure, our longest vacation in over 20 years. We stayed in Edinburgh, London, and Paris, with a few side trips to the countryside. When I’m asked how the trip turned out I say wonderful, and exhausting, and life-changing.
The wonderful and exhausting parts are self-explanatory for most vacations. But how did four weeks abroad change my life?
- I got intense lessons in detaching. In letting it go, the serenity prayer times 100. Whether in airport security lines, crowded museums, or 94 degree heat in London: if I can’t change it, the only route to sanity is to accept, even embrace it. Travel will offer these learning opportunities at every turn.
- You don’t need much stuff. Really just a few things get the job done and bring joy. What I did and did not miss: I didn’t miss our library of paper books, my crowded makeup drawer, my husband’s French horn lessons, or choosing from ten different diet colas. I missed baseball; apparently Europe does not care for American baseball. I missed my best friends, and my big computer monitor/real keyboard. Yes, I’m a spoiled brat, I missed that big honkin’ screen.
- Wear whatever the heck you want. Nobody notices. NOBODY notices. I wore the same wool dress (gray, merino, from Athleta via PoshMark, similar) in Scotland for eight days straight, then a wash, then two more days. Really, no odors – and i am a fussy-clean woman. I varied the under-layers depending on the temperatures but trust me, nobody noticed. Such freedom! I wore one loose cotton tent dress (similar) in London for three days straight. (purchased at H & M, I am sad to say, but the London heat surprised me and I wasn’t ready. That’ll be my H & M for the year!) It’s freeing to repeat outfits, and it declutters all the phases of packing/unpacking. Next trip I might bring two dresses and five washable undies, and the world’s most comfortable sneakers.
- Ask for help. People want to help you. Even in Paris, where the locals’ reputation is stereotypically aloof, we were treated kindly everywhere. Every native Parisien answered my stumbling French questions in English, to be sure, to remind me I am Americaine. Community, and human kindness, however, is real, and it matters everywhere you go.
- Be grateful for good health. We both got head-colds halfway through the trip and that made me treasure those taken-for-granted days of feeling good. I’m thankful that we’ve recovered, with just the slightest hangover in the form of a stuffy nose.
- Bring Imodium with you. That’s all I need to say on this topic.
- I don’t need to weigh myself every day. We didn’t have access to scales. My weight changed about one pound from the start day of our trip until the end. Why bother my mind every day with a number that never brings real happiness? Once a week is enough for me; many have stopped weighing altogether.
- Accept change as it evolves around you. Travel means something different for dinner every day, fresh faces, unfamiliar accents, new music and odd sleep patterns. I want to bring this lesson home to my familiar surroundings. I want to NOT be in a rut, to try a new way of dressing or eating, or a picnic at the beach across the street.
Have you had a recent experience about which you can say, “It changed my life”? I’d love to hear from you.
Stay fabulous, xo
Wear what you love, always. Here are some goodies to browse: