When I was a little girl I used to dream of traveling abroad. An avid reader, I quickly discovered literature that would let me vicariously experience lands that I hoped to one day visit. Summer after summer I would lay in the hammock in our front yard and read all the Jane Austen and Bronte sisters books I could get my hands on.

I was obsessed.

My hope was to graduate college, save some money and spend a year traveling and experiencing the world. Alas, life happened and the dream was delayed. It wasn’t until I almost lost my husband that I started rethinking how precious every moment is and how we weren’t spending them together wisely.

Our 20th wedding anniversary was the perfect excuse to visit two places we’d  always dreamed of: London and Paris. Hence the impulse trip to Europe.

There’s nothing like diving out of your comfort zone to teach yourself some new lessons about life. I came back a changed person in so many ways…

5 Life Lessons I Learned While Traveling To London And Paris

5 Lessons I Learned While Traveling To London And Paris

1. Try new things.

This is the whole point of visiting a new place, isn’t it? I’d be lying if I said that my entire trip was inside my comfort zone. There were so many times I found myself staring at a menu realizing that I had no idea what the items were. Or jumping on a train hoping it would get me somewhere close to my destination…

I climbed to the top of towers, attempted to converse in a new language, adopted local customs, and tasted foods that I’m still not entirely certain of the contents. It was glorious!

5 Lessons I Learned While Traveling To London And Paris

(For the record: any French food is good food. Sometimes not knowing the ingredients is serendipitous.)

Never again will I shy away from an experience due to the fear of the unknown. Great things lie on the other side of fear!

2. Live and savor each and every moment.

I credit Paris with this revelation. Life has a wonderful way of surprising you if you allow yourself to be present.

5 Lessons I Learned While Traveling To London And Paris

The French inherently understand the importance of slowing down and experiencing life. I mean, these people read their daily newspaper overlooking fountains and sculpted gardens, for crying out loud.

Paris is a city that begs to be appreciated.

5 Lessons I Learned While Traveling To London And Paris

In Paris I learned to use all of my senses to savor a moment and capture the memory for myself forever. Being present is definitely a skill I’m using moving forward.

3. Look for beauty in the small details.

Much of the beauty and charm in our visit to to each city was found observing the small intricacies of daily life — the bustling London tube, the charming teapot and scones in Bath, the early morning sounds of the Parisians sipping cappuccinos and discussing their lives, and the ease with which people on scooters weaved in and out of cars. There were a thousand tiny little details surrounding me that I didn’t see in movies or read about in books. It was these magical details that really made the trip an experience of a lifetime.

5 Lessons I Learned While Traveling To London And Paris

In my everyday life I neglect to marvel at these details. Just because I’m not in London anymore doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the beauty in my own surroundings.

4. Roll with the punches.

Now you may find this hard to believe, but I have been accused of being rigid from time to time. Shocker, I know. I’m comfortable being spontaneous in small doses, and when appropriate.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my recent travels it’s that there’s only so much you can control. When sudden changes happen, you simply need to adjust your mind and roll with the punches. It was during a few of our “mishaps” that we made the most hilarious memories!

5. Don’t let a fear  hold you back.

Fear. What a terrible word. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been motivated by fear most of my life. Sometimes for the better, but most times for the worse.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

—Winston Churchill

If I’m being honest, fear was a big reason I didn’t travel abroad for many years. Fear of not knowing the language. Fear of spending too much money. Fear of getting lost. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown.

Oh friends, I wish I would have leaped sooner! What a fool I’ve been. I’ll never again let fear keep me from trying something new. I’ll never again miss out due to the unknown, that’s for damn sure.

5 Lessons I Learned While Traveling To London And Paris

If you’re interested in the details of my trips to London and Paris (yummy food, street fairs, murderous pigeons, tears and architecture) you can them find them here:

 

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