Like anything, experience has to be earned.

It’s take guts and a real f***it kind of attitude to say “to hell with survival and comfort, I want to know more.”

Experience changes an individual, often for the better and in permanent ways. So why should it not be fought for, sweat for, bank breaking for, and earned? Many believe that the best things in life are free; that’s true if those things are air, sun, and a view of the stars at night. But in reality, most things today are not free. Not the water we drink, nor the resources we depend on, the grass that we walk on, and even falling in love; it all has a cost. And with the exception of love, those things just sustain, not change us.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

~ Helen Keller

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, where are we with experiences? Stagnation is a sad reality, but growth through learning about more than we are, seeing more than we know, and pondering more than we commonly conceive is priceless…I’d say. Therefore, the best way to learn, see, and conceive more is through experience, and that is what travelling is best for. To be clear, a person does not have to jump on a plane and fly halfway around the world in order to feel like they are legitimately traveling; a neighboring state will do just fine. Although, an opportunity to experience the way a foreign culture lives can promote tremendous perspective in all of us.

Logically speaking, its not the actual experience that brings anyone change. Instead, it is the result of an experience that yields the high returns. The actions–our experiences– those are just the means; the vehicle, if you will. But the result, the facilitator of change in all of us, that must be earned. And the cost…not always a financial dilemma. Rather, the cost of change (of experience) is fortitude; its facing a fear of the unknown, stepping outside the comfort zone, and taking away the most comfortable aspect in our lives, and that is control. Without control a person is powerless, and vulnerability is the absence of control, something travel presents an abundance of.

According to multiple sources, common reasons for avoiding traveling include the following: no one to travel with, can’t afford it, the element of danger out there, a lack of time and vacation days, language barrier, logistical nightmares, and germs (LOL). What these reasons all boil down to is a lack of resourcefulness and/or fear. Overcoming a fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of leaving the comfort zone, it’s not what we are designed to endure. Our brains are designed to do one thing, and one thing only; keep us alive. A desire…that goes beyond survival. It’s take guts and a real f***it kind of attitude to say “to hell with familiarity and comfort, I want to know and see more.”

Like most things in life that aren’t handed to us, we need to earn it. We need to put in, in order to be able to take out something in return. Experiences make a person grow. They formulate differing perspectives, intelligence, understanding, and debate. If you want the experience, you aren’t going to have it given to you. To learn about the world you don’t know, you will have to take yourself from the one you do. And it will cost. It will make you nervous, intimidated, and timid, until you return home a different person than the one who left. OF COURSE it comes with a cost, but almost anything worthwhile does, so you have to make the effort to be someone other than the person in you who refuses to change. You have to actually try, and want to be and know more. Jim Rohn once said, “if you think trying is hard, wait until you get the bill for not trying.”

So, if you want to know what the cost of experience is, it’s life as you know it. And whether a person chooses to experience all that life has to offer or not, they should know that they will pay in any case. Pay for the experiences now, or pay for the regret later. It’s something to think about.

Why traveling says more about you than you think

A departure flight from Nuremberg, Germany to Istanbul, and then on to Tel Aviv, with an arrival of 5:30 a.m. Hit the ground, collect the baggage, head to customs, and then onto a taxi, hopefully getting to a bed sooner than later. Sleep sounds more than ideal, but the sun is already up and the body is fading towards shutdown mode, while the mind is becoming active with every passing minute into the day. Wanting desperately to get some shuteye, the Airbnb flat can’t be checked into for another five hours, so then the choice to grab a hotel room–just to be able to nap–is what happens.

There’s no fear, no regret, and no hesitation to step into a reality other than the one they are most comfortable with.

This was the introduction into one of my travel experiences, in the not so distant past. It was a stressful trip initially, but the thought to avoid travelling again never once came to mind.

Christmas time, 2017, hit the road later in the day, bound for Quebec City (QC), Canada. Traffic thins, temperatures are dropping, the roads of upstate New York are becoming more saturated in snow and ice; something virtually non-existent in the Philadelphia area at that point. Close to crossing the Canadian border and still no word from the Airbnb host, and knowing that cellular service will soon be lost, a decision is demanded in that situation, and once again–just to be able to sleep–a hotel room gets booked. An overnight stay on the outskirts of Montreal, then onto QC to haggle over the first day’s booking cost for a flat unoccupied the night before. Again, the thought of travelling does not become discouraged.

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Travelling is–and always will be–an addiction for many. It’s a sensory experience that rarely goes as planned. Unless you are on a business trip and following a schedule, your time is yours and its subject to the extensive list of experiences that one can add to their individualistic bag. The things that stun and thrill travelers equally–an inability to speak the language, no knowledge of and discovering the hot (less touristy) spots, authentic cuisine, and getting to talk to people from a completely different walk of life–are what keeps them coming back for more.

Like many things in this world, the experience offers a number of stressors, likely to question the less adventurous why travelers do it as often as they do. But the simple, and yet strangely complex, answer…they don’t know. Travelers are special breed; a specific type of individual wired for and geared towards a love for the unknown. They love being out of their element and know that every experience gained in a far away place is just another notch in their adventured personalities. There’s no fear, no regret, and no hesitation to step into a reality other than the one they are most comfortable with. Being a traveler means being adaptive; someone who makes necessary split second decisions, has a sharp sense for independence, and a heightened posture of survivability.

Every traveler knows and can identify many people in and around their circle, who are less than willing to put themselves out of the comfort zone, and yet the traveler cannot seem to mentally identify with that concept. I alone know more than ten people who have never traveled farther than the neighboring state or set foot on an airplane. The traveler, he or she isn’t wired for limitations, for permanence in the comfort zone, or for letting a fear of the unknown trump the feeling of experiences. Being a traveler says a lot about a person, more so than it does to speak against them. They may be a lot of other things in their lives, and in some areas they may be much less. But one thing they will not be in the end is a person who regrets not living to learn and to experience the unknown.

All this is the reason why a traveler is much more than they appear to be on the surface; it’s just not something for everyone.