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I caught the travel bug as a child and I still have it. To this day, I can’t get enough of exploring this magical place we call Earth.

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Our planet offers a vast and immense territory that would take lifetimes to discover. I have been fortunate and very blessed for the past 27 years to have encountered various kinds of travel all over the world. Because of this, traveling has spiritually expanded me, blasted open my mind and heart and has provided me with both pleasurable and challenging opportunities for personal growth.

Whether you’re a frequent traveler or want to become one, here are my top five most common and consistent reflections I’ve had from being a globetrotter.

1) GRATITUDE

Whenever I leave home and venture off somewhere, I feel a deep sense of gratitude at being able to have the chance to do so. Whether I am exploring my own country or I am flying across the world, I am always overcome with a deep sense of gratitude for being able to have the time, energy and financial means to take time off of work or school to spend days and weeks on my own, with friends, a partner or my family.

Gratitude shows up when you allow yourself to experience the tremendous amount of beauty that our world offers. There have been countless times where I have felt as though my breath was taken away at seeing the Mediterranean Sea or the Eiffel Tower that once upon a time had been a dream for me to visit.

Traveling has the ability to deepen your appreciation for your own home too! When you get a chance to check out other cultures that do not have the same amenities, ways of living and familiar comforts that you are used to, you anticipate returning home to what you may have been taking for granted.

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I recently took a trip on my own to Mexico where I became extremely ill and was hospitalized. My father had to fly down to accompany me home. It was a scary experience to say the least, and I was so relieved and comforted at the sight of him entering my hospital room, it felt like Christmas. Gratitude and appreciation poured out of me. I felt grateful to be alive, to have the tremendous amount of love from family and friends and to be able to return home safely.

2) BEING PRESENT

Traveling helps develop a strong sense of presence. You need a certain amount of street smarts, keen observation, self-awareness and focus.

Using a map to find your way around a city. Catching a train or flight in a bustling station or airport. Driving on roads with street signs in a foreign language. Needing to find a hotel or a hostel in the late hours of the night. All of those times require being 100% in the moment by showing up fully mind-body and soul. Sometimes your very own life can depend on it!

A sobering reminder that helps me be present is the fact that many times, I don’t know if I will ever again visit that particular place and smell the aromas that are only associated with that place on the planet. Hike the mountain covered with ice caps, swim in clear blue waters of Punta Cana, or talk religion with the shoe shine man on the streets of Jakarta. So if your mind is wandering in the past or venturing forward into a future not yet created, you will miss out on a marvelous and truly heart-expanding moment.

3) FULLY BEING YOURSELF

Unless you’re a world-famous celebrity, chances are wherever you travel to no one will know who you are, what you do or where you come from. This can be a good thing. Traveling allows you the time to practice fully being yourself, which makes you magnetic. You will naturally attract interesting conversations, new friends and adventures you had not planned. You literally have the opportunity to wipe your slate clean and let go of your social inhibitions.

When I was younger, I remember traveling and always anticipating whether or not I would make friends while on vacation. I didn’t want to stay joined at the hip with my family the entire trip, so I would encourage myself to get out of my comfort zone and become friendly with other kids who were also on vacation. Nobody knew who I was and where I came from, and it clearly didn’t matter. I was accepted and made friends fast. My friendliness and choice to put myself out there clearly worked. Before I knew it, I would be off having a blast with a load of new friends that were from all over the world.

4) CONNECTION

Building a connection with local people, food, culture and the land are such enriching experiences. We truly live in a global village. Even though there are differences in the way people live, there are always aspects to our humanity we all connect to. When you start to notice the similarities between the people and the cultures you encounter, you feel the oneness that is the very essence of humanity that keeps us alive.

Even if you can’t understand a culture’s language or relate to the rituals in another country, something special happens when you give yourself permission to let go of the mind’s ability to create separation. When you allow yourself to drop into the space of your heart and feel a sense of compassion and unity, you feel no barriers between you and the rest of the world.

5) SURRENDER

Traveling grants you the chance to press pause on your life and reset yourself through the act of surrendering and letting go. When you remove yourself from your daily grind and start to relax into your being, your worries begin to melt away. By slowing down, your entire mind and body get to recharge. You then open yourself up to incorporating new perspectives and ways of handling your life.

I have personally experienced some of the most profound periods of expansion and transformation when traveling. I always find the first few days of travel the most difficult as my mind and body are so used to working, checking email and Facebook on my phone. But by the fourth or fifth day, I begin to let go of the tension I am carrying, my thoughts slow down and I shift into a state of being rather than doing. When I return from my travels, I feel fully refreshed and excited to get back to my daily life.

It is with hope that my list inspires you to embark on some form of travel or holiday so that you might experience these reflections I have listed and tap into the myriad of ways that traveling can enlighten you. It’s a big world out there. Book a ticket and just go.