Travel Changed me Forever
Airbnb’s newest campaign talks about the power of travel and how it can transform our perceptions of the world and our place in it. We asked 15 bloggers to share their own tranformative travel experiences. Jenna from This is My Happiness shares her’s below:
I’ll never forget that cold winter morning. I was standing in line at a bus station in a small city in the Czech Republic, on my way to Prague and then Munich, the next stops on my solo trip—but I wasn’t ready to leave. I realized in that moment that my time in this city was not over, that there was more for me to learn, and that my life in the United States was not what I needed. I decided, standing in that line, to let go of my plans and move to this town in the Czech Republic.
What brought me to this moment? I fell in love with the people, and that’s when travel changed me forever.
Earlier in my trip I’d marveled at the kindness of strangers in Italy, yet it was the Czechs’ warmth and incredible hospitality that changed me. I felt a connection with people who spoke a different language and had different pasts yet share my same baseline for happiness. Watching what constitutes life through daily rhythms and behavior of a culture that was different from mine allowed truths to emerge.
Through the people’s love of spending days together cooking, eating, and laughing, they taught me that family is most important. Because they never seemed to be in a hurry, they showed me that life is to be lived, not managed. Because they always had time for their many friends, I learned that friendships are the soul of a happy life. Through their love of nature, whether mushroom hunting, camping in the hills, or hiking in all kinds of weather, they taught me that time outdoors is one of the great joys of life. Basically, by observing them, I observed myself. The differences between what I saw as truth growing up in the U.S. and the way they lived allowed me to see everything in a new way.
As a 20-something college graduate with no savings, I could have stayed home and worked. I also could have traveled abroad with friends on a whirlwind trip of must-see stops. Instead, I set off on a different journey, challenging myself to go places where there was nothing “important” to see and to get to know the people and cultures there. I traveled alone, despite not really knowing what I was doing. I spent money I didn’t have on a language course and stayed with local people. I traveled slowly, spending about three weeks in each location. I am so glad I traveled the way I did—connecting in meaningful ways with the place and people was the travel experience I needed as I entered the vulnerable time of early adulthood.
Do you have a travel story that tranformed your life? Share your story using hashtag #AirbnbViews. See the campaign and find your next adventure at Airbnb.com/Views
This experience was followed by eye-opening discussions with Germans, and later with Brazilians and Japanese and Dutch. The ways that travel changed me have since informed the choices I’ve made as an adult, from my career and my travels to my relationships and even my marriage.
Now, as a parent of two small children, I know that making deep connections to places and people through travel will allow my kids to grow like I did. I hope they will take risks, connect with people they seem to have little in common with, challenge what they have held as truths, and ultimately become more open-minded people who love being around people from all parts of this beautiful world.
In partnership with Airbnb. “Book a home. Get a unique view of the world.” Watch the Airbnb video here.
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