When You Can’t Travel Abroad: 6 Lessons I’ve Learned

I’m gearing up for a trip abroad and have been for some time. However, life happens and I have been forced to postpone it. This has been difficult for a woman who was bitten by the travel bug many years ago! I have been reflecting on what I’m learning when I’m not able to travel abroad on a whim. Here are SIX of those lessons.

  1. Patience is a muscle that needs exercising. Trust me, there are moments that I want to jump online and book a flight that leaves the same day…but since that can’t happen at the moment I have been reminded of the power of patience. Admittedly, my patience waxes and wanes. To encourage a stronger patience “muscle” I have taken to daily meditation. Ten minutes in the morning (and time permitting, at night) and I’m able to breathe through those moments where I want to drop a New York gangster film style “F BOMB” and pack my bags. Then I am reminded of this quote by Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” and I envision the sweet fruit that I’ll be eating (or drinking) on a beach abroad when I DO get there. 🙂
  2. Curiosity is the doorway to growth – at home or abroad.  Since I’m not traveling right now, I’m taking the time to be curious here. This has resulted in more reading, participating in a local farm’s CSA, a plan to engage in cultural cooking with our son that was inspired by Sasha Martin’s Global Travel Adventure, a visit to a President Andrew Johnson’s home in Tennessee, and a trip to a peaceful beach I’d never have thought of visiting in South Carolina. As a result, I’ve learned about varieties of kale and how to store greens, colorful recipes from around the world, a President’s position on the right to vote for people of color (it was a thumbs down), and got to see my son’s reaction to baby tigers at a sanctuary in South Carolina, of all places.  Definitely a reminder to bloom where you are planted at the moment.
  3. Books and Movies are a great escape when you can’t escape. Having a four year old and not living near family makes it more difficult to jet set on a whim, but the local library and a good online media service can be lifesavers when the travel bug is biting. I’m currently reading “American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures” written by actress and activist America Ferrera and other media personalities. I’ve guzzled down various documentaries about food and culture, too!  Some of my favorites have been “Soul of a Banquet” (about how Cecilia Chiang introduced authentic Chinese food to the US) and “City of Gold” (about how the late food critic, Jonathan Gold, explored the culinary culture of Los Angeles). In those moments I’m aching to be on a plane, I am comforted by those who appreciate culture in various forms and generously share their expertise.
  4. Compassion is the highest form of love.
    Not being able to jump on a plane with a passport at the moment is frustrating at times, but the experience is giving me countless opportunities to show compassion to myself and those I love.  Having injured my knee has required me to practice some serious self care, which is tough when you have an active child who goes at full throttle from dawn to dusk. Healing my knee and focusing on my health at home has allowed me to practice endless compassion for our son’s every boo boo and tired and emotional moments, but it has also allowed me to practice compassion for myself and my circumstances.  I wrote a poem while being grounded at home ended with “loving myself deeply…more than in so many decades…”. I do believe compassion is the highest form of love and I’ve had the opportunity, because I am home, to deep dive into it which has been good for my soul.
  5. Travel abroad IS worth waiting for. Regardless of all the lessons I’m learning (and re-learning), the reality is that I physically ache to be able to hit the “purchase” button for that passport required travel and to use my TSA pre-check number. Let’s face it – when you have the travel bug it can be all consuming at times. (Whose head is nodding right now?!) I know, despite all the pain of the waiting, it is undoubtedly worth it. The lessons I learn abroad are endless and I will be “there” soon enough. And it will have been well worth the wait.

What lessons do you learn when you’re grounded?  I’d love to hear!